Monday, May 30, Memorial Day, History Channel presents “Roots” a four part mini-series based on the novel by Alex Haley, chronicling the history of his family from slavery to freedom. Before you say it’s been done before, please note the History Channel says this groundbreaking series is reimagined, a different telling for a new generation. As Anika Noni Rose who stars as Kunta Kinte’s daughter Kizzy says young people of today should know “…They didn’t come from chains.”
Helmed by some of the most talented and celebrated Black actors, actresses and writers, directors, costumers and producers in Hollywood, “Roots” delves deeper into love, pride and joy of being African, and the struggle to find and maintain a warrior’s spirit in the wake of unimaginable cruelty and hate.
The producers insist that the intention is not to take away anything from the original “Roots” the groundbreaking miniseries that aired in 1977 with more than 100 million viewers, Black and White. It was a time when everyone knew the name Kunta Kinte.
LeVar Burton, who portrayed Kinte in the original series, will co-executive produce the new miniseries. “My career began with ‘Roots’ and I am proud to be a part of this new adaptation,” said Burton. “There is a huge audience of contemporary young Americans who do not know the story of ‘Roots’ or its importance.”
Burton, now 59, went on to play countless roles (including Geordi La Forge on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) and host the PBS children’s show “Reading Rainbow.”
Executive producer Mark Wolper, son of the original producer David L. Wolper, added, “Kunta Kinte began telling his story more than 200 years ago and that story went through his family lineage, to Alex Haley, to my father, and now the mantle rests with me. Like Kunta Kinte fought to tell his story over and over again, so must we.”
In a recent interview, Burton shared his thoughts on the importance of “Roots” and its impact on America with CNN Host of “Shades of America,” W. Kamau Bell. Burton said, “Well, how often have we seen Holocaust stories? I bring that up because there’s a wonderful tradition in Jewish culture that is about “never forget.” In insisting that this story is passed onto each successive generation, it has become part and parcel of Jewish identity. Human beings have remarkably short memories, and so it is essential that we continually remind ourselves.”
“Roots” stars Malachi Kirby (BBC’s “Dr. Who”) as Kunta Kinte, Anika Noni Rose (“Dreamgirls”) as Kizzy, Rege Jean Page (“Survivor”) as Chicken George, Academy Award winner, Forest Whitaker will star as Fiddler, and Laurence Fishburne (ABC’s “Black-ish”) as Alex Haley. Kirby and Jean Page will be officially introduced to the American TV audience.
If you’re not sure you want to revisit “Roots” or even see it for the first time, I urge you to visit the History Channel website and view the clips and background information on the retelling of the story. Also thoughts shared by the cast and crew put a totally different light on the subject of slavery, they are coming from a place of strength and not weakness and finally they tie-in the events of today, basically saying we’re still in the struggle. Check out History.com for more on the miniseries.
History Channel presents “Roots” airing over four consecutive nights at 9 p.m. beginning Monday, May 30, Memorial Day.
You won’t be disap