The book Roots: The Saga of an American Family
By Alex Haley
Was written as a result of the author's quest to trace his personal ancestry, a quest that led him deep into American history, and resulted in a larger truth, one that embodied America as a whole.
The book became a televised sensation, leaving in its aftermath, 37 Emmy nominations, resulting in nine wins, as well a a Golden Globe award.
I remember when Roots first aired in 1977, and I was so greatly affected by its cultural and emotional power that I wrote about it in my own memoir, Torn From the Inside Out, by Sara Niles
An excerpt follows:
"We, as a country, were like an old faithful hunting dog who had just fought off a bear for his family and came home to lick his wounds. The timing was right for what happened next.
The social unrest that existed while the Vietnam war was ongoing, had become less intense since the war’s end, allowing the country to reach a state of calmness that enabled it to come together to watch the premier of the television version of Alex Haley’s Pulitzer winning novel: Roots. Eighty million people watched Roots, making it the most watched movie in the history of Television; in fact, the massive audience surpassed even that of the fabled movie: Gone With The Wind.
I will never forget the impact the televised series of movies had on me, for it was more than entertainment, it was a slap in the face at the appropriate time, and provided a timely awakening for a country slumbering in racial apathy. This was not the first time an author had provided that much needed slap in the face. Harriet Beecher Stowe shook a country with her simple novel: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, because it was the right thing at the right time, and I believe Root’s was the right thing at the right time too. "
Torn From the Inside Out, Sara Niles
The new remake of Roots, the movie, is proving to be a masterwork of similar magnitude as the first. The first showing is airing on the History channel and Lifetime, along with a few others, this week.
It is not to be missed, for it is more than a movie, it is the story of our American past.