Stirring Remake of ‘Roots’ Needed for Modern Times

Levar Burton (right) of the original Roots poses with newcomer (left) Malachi Kirby who plays Kunta Kinte in the remake
ACTOR MALACHI KIRBY stars as Kunta Kinte in the remake of the miniseries “Roots,” which will air Memorial Day on the History channel.
Alex Haley
Alex Haley

When it debuted on ABC in 1977, Alex Haley’s “Roots” stirred the nation with its gripping story of tortured Blacks who were sold and worked as slaves on sweeping plantations in the South. As millions remain glued to television sets, the story of Kunta Kinte was often talked about in America’s offices, bars, classrooms and homes.

In the Black community, the miniseries was a compelling history lesson that sparked conversations about race in living rooms and the dinner table. To many Blacks, it was a time of enlightenment and self-examination.

Many Millennials weren’t around to view the unprecedented miniseries, which became the second most watched television miniseries in U.S. history. Nominated for 37 Emmy Awards, it won nine. Nearly 40 years later, “Roots” returns to the tube on Monday, May 30 on the History Channel. It’s a powerful remake with an all new, star-studded cast that includes Oscar winner Forest Whitaker and rapper T.I. The eight-hour series will be shown over four consecutive nights.

As America remembers the fallen during Memorial Day Weekend, on Monday, May 30, many Blacks will be reminded of the horrific journey their ancestors endured in a country that viewed them as second-class citizens.

The “Roots” remake comes as racial tensions rock American cities while a younger Black generation assert themselves to gain justice and equality in courtrooms, boardrooms and classrooms. Among older Blacks, the “Roots” remake may be a fresh reminder of one’s heritage and racial identity, which are sometimes at odds with the pursuit of the American dream and careers in corporate America.

Glowing reviews of the “Roots” remake have poured in after advance screenings have been held in several cities. In Atlanta, it was shown at historic Morehouse College on May 23. Afterwards, a panel discussion with rapper T.I. was held. He was joined by The Rickey Smiley Morning Show personality Jeff Johnson, as well as T.I.; Will Packer; Ed Lover, Hip Hop legend and host of the nationally syndicated “The Ed Lover Show” and V-103 morning show personality Ryan Cameron of The Ryan Cameron Morning Show.

Former Mayor of Atlanta, Ambassador Andrew Young, was also in attendance and made a couple of remarks at the close of the Q&A.

That same day, another advance screening was shown in New York at the famed Lincoln Center.

Plenty of celebrities — many of them cast members from the 2016 version of the TV classic – turned out on May 23, 2016, to see the first installment of the four-night series.

LeVar Burton, a star of the 1977 “Roots” and a producer of the current version, was joined by director Mario Van Peebles, stars Chad L. Coleman, Anna Paquin, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Malachi Kirby.

The new “Roots” premieres at 9 p.m./8 p.m. Central.

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