Roots: The Next Generations
|Roots: The Next Generations|
|Created by||Alex Haley|
|Based on||Roots: The Saga of an American Family|
by Alex Haley
|Screenplay by||Ernest Kinoy|
|Directed by||John Erman (eps. 1, 3, 4, 7) |
Charles S. Dubin (ep. 2)
Georg Stanford Brown (ep. 5)
Lloyd Richards (ep. 6)
|Starring||James Earl Jones |
Georg Stanford Brown
|Theme music composer||Gerald Fried|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||7|
|Executive producer(s)||David L. Wolper|
|Running time||840 minutes|
|Production company(s)||David L. Wolper Productions|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original release||February 18 –|
February 24, 1979
|Preceded by||Roots (miniseries)|
|Followed by||Roots: The Gift|
Roots: The Next Generations is an American television miniseries based on the last seven chapters of Alex Haley's 1976 novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family. First aired on ABC in February 1979, it is a sequel to the 1977 Roots miniseries, tracing the lives of Kunta Kinte's descendants in Henning, Tennessee from 1882 to 1967.
For the first part of the story, see Roots
Chapter 1 – 1880s
The story resumes in 1882, 12 years after the arrival of "Chicken George" Moore (Avon Long) and his family in Henning, in West Tennessee. George, elderly and showing his age, moves in with Tom Harvey (Georg Stanford Brown), one of his sons, along with Tom’s wife, Irene (Lynne Moody), and their two daughters, Elizabeth and Cynthia. Tom, a great-grandson of Kunta Kinte, has become a leader of the black community in Henning. Although he has established a working relationship with the town's white leader, Col. Frederick Warner (Henry Fonda), a former officer in the Confederate Army, race relations are strained, due in part to the new Jim Crow laws and similar influences.
Col. Warner's younger son, Jim (Richard Thomas), meets and falls in love with Carrie Barden (Fay Hauser), an attractive young African-American schoolteacher and a graduate of Fisk University, a black school in Nashville (the capital of the state and in Middle Tennessee). Tom has taken the lead in hiring Carrie for the local school for the black children. Col. Warner disapproves of the relationship between Jim and Carrie, so he seeks to persuade Tom to fire Carrie or to close the school. After an argument between Tom and his older daughter, Elizabeth (Debbi Morgan), about his refusal to accept her suitor, John Dolan (Brian Stokes Mitchell), because he is half white, (although Irene reminds Tom that his father Chicken George is also half-white, and Tom himself is a quarter white) Tom decides to allow Carrie to continue teaching. Jim and Carrie marry in Memphis, then Col. Warner disinherits Jim (by removing him from his will), but he says that he will ensure that no harm comes to the couple from the hoodlum white element of the town. Jim, with his new bride, receives a warm welcome to the local black church.
A year later, Chicken George dies in 1883 at age 83 (note in Roots, George is said to have been born in 1806, which would make him 77), and the family bury his body beside that of his wife, Mathilda "Tildy", who died in 1875 at age 76.
Chapter 2 – Turn of the 20th century
In August 1896, 13 years later, Elizabeth, Tom's older daughter, arrives from Kansas City, Missouri, for an extended visit, amid tension between Tom and Elizabeth, due to Tom's rejection of her suitor years before.
Cynthia "Cinthy" (Bever-Leigh Banfield), Tom's younger daughter, meets and falls in love with Will Palmer (Stan Shaw), an ambitious and hard-working young man; after a properly supervised courtship the couple marry in their church.
While Will works for Bob Campbell (Harry Morgan) at his lumberyard, he does so in such an enthusiastic, industrious, and effective way that he attracts the attention of both Col. Warner and T.J. Calloway (John Carter), the local banker. Because of Campbell's increasing problems with alcohol and his decreasing attention to his business, and after Campbell's default on his loan from the bank, Calloway forecloses, takes over the lumberyard, sells it to Will, and finances his purchase. Thus the R. Campbell Lumber Company becomes the W.E. Palmer Lumber Company.
By this time Jim and Carrie already have a son, named Frank "Frankie" (Marcus Chong), and they live peacefully and happily in the black community of Henning.
However, in the atmosphere of the growing anti-black attitudes in the South during the 1890s, racial tension increases in Henning too, as several incidents demonstrate. For example, Tom suddenly becomes turned away when he again applies to register to vote, and he forcefully insists that every time since the Civil War he has voted without interference, in both Alamance County, North Carolina, and in Lauderdale County, Tennessee.
Chapter 3 – World War I
By September 1914, after 17 more years, telephones, electricity, and automobiles have arrived in Henning, both the town and Will Palmer's lumber company have grown, both Tom and Irene Harvey have died, as has Mrs. Warner, and Andrew Warner, the colonel's older son, now serves as a member of the US House of Representatives.
Dr. Frank Warner (E. Lamont Johnson), the son of Jim and Carrie Warner, has completed undergraduate college, medical school, an internship, and a residency, and he's about to start his medical practice. Cinthy calls him "the first colored doctor in the county".
Col. Warner, frail and confused, collapses on a street while Jim, Carrie, and Frank are present nearby. They rush to him, and Frank starts to treat him. However, Earl Crowther (Paul Koslo), the Warner chauffeur, and a gang of rednecks take charge, ignore both Jim and Frank and nudge them aside, and insult Frank, who predicts that the colonel will die before they get him to the white physician. He does indeed die.
At the college Bertha meets and soon falls in love with Simon Alexander Haley (Dorian Harewood), a waiter in the dining room and a son of a sharecropper, who lives and works near Savannah, Hardin County, Tennessee, about 116 miles due east of Memphis. Simon, who greatly admires Booker T. Washington, quotes to Bertha from his writings, including these words: "The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges to come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than artificial forcing". Referring to Washington, Simon says, "I have formed my life in his image".
The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) resurges in Henning. They burn a cross, hold a parade, and burn down the clothing store of a Jewish merchant, Mr. Goldstein (Jiří Voskovec), who has moved to Henning from Chicago, Illinois, and who returns there.
Simon leaves Lane College, and he has made plans to continue his education at the Agricultural and Technical (A&T) College of North Carolina (which later becomes renamed as the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical (A&T) State University), in Greensboro, North Carolina. He has applied to enroll in the school and has arranged to work on the campus to pay for his room and board.
His father, Alec Haley (Hal Williams) has promised him $50 to pay for his tuition, but now he tells him that he cannot keep his promise because of the recent poor crops due to floods and boll weevils. To avoid becoming an indebted sharecropper himself, Simon works the summer as a railway porter for the Pullman Company. He works with an older porter, Dad Jones (Ossie Davis), who becomes his fatherly friend and—in one instance with another porter—his protector. During one trip Simon meets and talks with a kindly and wealthy passenger, R.S.M. Boyce (James Daly), an executive of the Curtis Publishing Company, the publisher of The Saturday Evening Post and several other well-known magazines. They discuss Simon's plans and difficulties. When Boyce steps off the train, he hands to Simon a generous tip and one of his business cards, inviting him to inform him of his progress. When Simon leaves his position to return to school, he learns that Dad was fired for discussing unionization of the porters with a labor spy. When Simon arrives at the college, he learns that Boyce has already paid for the coming year in full for his textbooks, tuition, and room and board.
Simon and Bertha continue to keep in touch with each other, and Bertha and her parents, Will and Cynthia, travel to Simon's graduation, where he will receive his bachelor's degree in agriculture. When the family arrives at the campus, Bertha receives a message that Simon and six of his classmates have just left and enlisted in the US Army for service in the World War (the "Great War", later renamed as World War I). The young couple see each other briefly when Simon and his all-black platoon of recruits board a train to go to the next stage in his life.
During May 1918 Simon receives his basic training in an all-black company at Camp Grant, Illinois, near Rockford, about 85 miles west-northwest of Chicago, then he, in an all-black outfit, goes to France and takes part in the fighting against the German Army of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Before Simon goes overseas, Bertha meets Simon in Chicago for a weekend (after Cinthy pleads Bertha's case with Will, who first has vigorously opposed such a trip but eventually allows it).
While Simon is in the Army in France, Cousin Georgia Anderson (Lynn Hamilton), from Kansas City, visits Will and Cinthy, and she reveals that Chicken George fought with the Union Army during the Battle of Fort Pillow, due west of Henning, on the Chickasaw Bluffs, overlooking the Mississippi River. (That point implies that he survived the infamous Massacre of Fort Pillow.)
In July 1918 Simon receives word in France that his father has died in a hospital in Memphis; in due time, after the end of the war, Simon returns to the U.S.
Andy Warner raises his political sights even higher, and he becomes elected to the US Senate.
After the Army discharges Simon, on his way back home to Henning, he and several friends stop at the home of one of them in Knoxville, in East Tennessee. While they are there, the Knoxville Riot of 1919 (a part of the Red Summer of 1919) takes place. Earl Crowther, now an aide to Sen. Andrew Warner, goes to Knoxville to take part in the mischief, and he dies there (at the hands of one of Simon's Army buddies).
Simon arrives in Henning and receives a robust welcome, especially from Bertha, and the young couple move ahead with the plans for their wedding.
Will builds an attractive bungalow for Bertha and Simon, assuming that they will settle in Henning, but without asking about their own plans.
On the first Sunday after the completion of the house, the wedding takes place in their church building, then everyone adjourns to the front lawn of the new home for the reception, and a number of white friends and neighbors join them. Among them are Sen. Andy Warner and his fancy new wife, from Washington, DC, and New York City, who arrive in a Rolls-Royce open touring car with a chauffeur.
In November 1921 Simon and Bertha return to Henning to visit Will and Cinthy, and they surprise them with their three-month-old son, Alexander Murray Palmer Haley, whom Will promptly carries outside, lifts up, and ceremonially shows the Moon, in a tradition which was first portrayed in the first Roots series by Omoro Kinte and baby Kunta Kinte in The Gambia in West Africa in 1750 (though, in the first Roots, the tradition was a naming ritual, where the father held the naked child to the stars, gave the child a name, and said, "behold the only thing greater than yourself.").
Chapter 4 – The Great Depression
Late in the summer of 1932, after 11 more years, during the Great Depression, Simon, Bertha, and their children stay temporarily in the bungalow with Will and Cynthia. At age 10 Alex (Christoff St. John, who later respelled his first name as Kristoff) has two younger brothers, George (Stevan Crutchfield), named for Chicken George, and Julius (Ticker Thompson). While working at Will's lumberyard, Simon unsuccessfully tries to show Will better methods for bookkeeping and inventory control, but Will disregards and uses him as a manual laborer.
Shortly, however, Simon receives a special-delivery letter offering him a job as a professor of agriculture at the State Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) Institute for Negroes, in Normal, Alabama. (The school later becomes renamed as the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) University; the campus and the former town of Normal, named for the normal school established there, now lie within the city limits of Huntsville.)
Simon promptly and joyfully accepts his appointment, and he and his family move to Normal in their Chevrolet four-door sedan.
Not only does Prof. Haley teach his students in the classrooms and laboratories, but he also approaches the local farmers and, with little success, tells them about techniques which would enable them to replenish the soil and to produce better crops, using simple techniques, such as crop rotation. He meets Lyle Pettijohn (Robert Culp), the county agricultural agent and a son of a sharecropper in Greene County, Tennessee, so the two of them easily find mutual interests and objectives.
However, both Simon and Pettijohn meet resistance and incite violent reprisals by the white landowners.
Soon afterward Will dies in Henning.
While Bertha is out of town with the two younger sons for the funeral, Simon and Alex spend some special time together, during which Simon says to him, "There's one thing poor people have in common no matter who they are, they have no education. Education is the key; it's the way up, the way out. That's why you must do well in school Alex, not only for yourself but to help others as well".
When Simon and his family return to Normal, they find that his antagonists have broken in, damaged their home, and destroyed much of their property.
One afternoon Simon returns to his home and learns that Bertha has experienced a relapse in her illness, and that her condition has become serious. Minutes later, because of internal bleeding due to an undisclosed problem, Bertha dies in Simon's arms while Alex watches.
Soon Simon drives his three sons to Henning, where the boys move into the bungalow with Cynthia and Elizabeth. On the front porch of the bungalow Alex listens to Cynthia, Elizabeth, and sometimes Cousin Georgia, while they retell the stories about Kunta Kinte, Kizzy, Chicken George, Tom, and the others.
Shortly afterward Grandma Cinthy shows Alex a large cross-section disc cut from the trunk of a redwood tree in California, and she explains it to him. Will has marked the annual rings of the trunk in such a way as to indicate the years when various relatives had been born, and when several major world events had occurred.
Chapter 5 – World War II
On May 1, 1939, seven years later, at age 17 Alex (Damon Evans) arrives in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where Simon now lives with Zeona (Diahann Carroll), his second wife, and where he now teaches agriculture at the Elizabeth City State Teachers College (a black school, later renamed as the Elizabeth City State University). Alex promptly sees that Zeona is pregnant. Although he was bright enough to enter college at age 15, his academic work has become so lackluster and mediocre that he has dropped out of the Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) College (another black school, later renamed as the Alcorn State University), near Lorman, Mississippi. Simon strongly encourages Alex to enlist in one of the branches of the armed forces, in the expectation that two or three years of military life will cause and allow him to gain maturity.
In August 1939 Alex enlists in the US Coast Guard in Portsmouth, Virginia, and he reports directly aboard a cutter, USCGC Mendota (WHEC-69), without receiving the benefit of any boot camp or other basic training. However, Percival "Scotty" Scott (John Hancock), a gruff but kindly steward's mate first-class, the leading petty officer in the wardroom area among the mess attendants and steward's mates, takes Alex in tow. Alex begins as a mess attendant, starting on the career path toward his becoming a steward's mate, one of the few ratings available to black enlisted men in either the Navy or the Coast Guard during the era of World War II (WW2). (The real USCGC Mendota (WHEC-69) served 1945-73.)
While attending a church-sponsored dance for servicemen and local ladies, Alex meets Nan Branch (Debbie Allen), a timid, attractive, naïve, single young woman, and they continue to meet at the church dances. On the eighth such meeting Alex proposes marriage to Nan, and she accepts. They soon marry, then they visit Simon, Zeona, and their new baby, in Elizabeth City. Simon expresses disapproval because Alex has departed from his plan for him, and Zeona urges Simon to stop interfering.
Meanwhile, on December 7, 1941 the Empire of Japan attacks the USA at Pearl Harbor in the Territory of Hawaii, thus drawing the US into the new war. By this time Scotty has advanced to the rate of chief petty officer (chief steward's mate).
By July 1942 Alex and Chief Scott are somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean aboard USS Murzim (AK-95), an ammunition ship, one of several Naval vessels manned by Coast Guard crews during WW2. Scotty asks Alex why he receives so many letters, and he answers, in effect, that, if he wishes to receive letters, then he must write letters – to friends and relatives back home. Then, at Scotty's request, Alex writes a love letter for Scotty to a girlfriend in Auckland, New Zealand, where the ship will make a port visit about two months later. The letter works so well that Scotty sets up Alex to write love letters for other shipmates for one dollar apiece. Thus Alex enters the writing business. (The real USS Murzim (AK-95) served 1943-46.)
While at sea Alex receives the news that Nan has given birth to a girl, and that she has given her mother's name, Lydia, to their baby. Alex expresses his pleasure about his new fatherhood, yet he says that he had wanted to give the girl the name of Cynthia, his maternal grandmother.
World War II ends, and both Simon and Alex start thinking about their respective plans for Alex. Simon makes a train journey to California, where he meets Alex at the Coast Guard Station on Yerba Buena Island, in the San Francisco Bay. Alex has advanced to the rate of petty officer first-class (steward's mate first-class). Simon and Alex articulate a sharp disagreement about the differences between their plans for Alex; Simon wants him to return to academia, but Alex intends to stay in the Coast Guard at least until he decides or discovers what else he should do. (Simon expresses a dream that Alex might become even a president of a university.)
Alex returns to the East Coast and to Nan and Lydia, and Nan again becomes pregnant. Alex requests and gets an assignment in New York City, so that he can live and work closer to the editors there, because of his intense interest in writing and his goal to become a published author.
Chapter 6 – Postwar
In November 1946 he and his family, in their Ford woodie station wagon, head northward to his next duty station, and they encounter not only racial discrimination but also frustration and disappointment while seeking a room in a motel or "auto court". Alex starts working, writing press releases in the public-relations (PR) office of the Coast Guard in Manhattan. While off duty he starts writing proposed articles and submitting them to magazines, but he receives only rejection slips.
Cdr. Robert Munroe (Andy Griffith), the officer in charge of the PR office, a Southerner with 30 years of experience in journalism, dismisses Alex's early writings as amateur but takes an interest in Alex, his work, and his plans, and he offers him constructive advice and guidance.
Alex continues to work hard on his writing, both on duty and off duty. He spends so much time on his own writing that Nan begins to complain, saying that he neglects her and their two children, Lydia (Kim Fields) and Billy (Joel Herd), by giving them so little time and attention.
While on annual leave from the Coast Guard, Alex and his family visit Cynthia, Elizabeth, and Cousin Georgia in the bungalow in Henning, and, partly with the encouragement of Grandma Cinthy, he starts to feel a need or wish to learn more about the roots of his family. (During that visit Cinthy tells Alex that the old slice from the redwood tree has become hauled away to a dump because insects had begun reducing it to sawdust.)
Alex continues to feel much frustration and disappointment about his lack of success in civilian commercial writing.
Alex seeks and in 1949 receives a change of his rating from steward's mate first-class to journalist first-class, and he remains as a journalist (no longer in the wardroom area). Later he advances to the rate of chief petty officer (chief journalist, the first chief journalist in the Coast Guard), and he continues as a chief journalist for the remainder of his 20-year military career.
On Christmas Eve 1950 Mel Klein (Milt Kogan), an independent writer on an assignment from a magazine editor, consults Alex, to get some statistics to go into a new article about the Coast Guard, and Alex asks Mel for advice. Mel tells him about Coronet, a small-format magazine (somewhat similar to the Reader's Digest), which, according to Mel, can't get enough short (600-word) human-interest stories.
In response to Mel's advice Alex that same night dives into his work after hours in the office and submerges himself in his writing and rewriting – to the extent that he loses sight of his special duties to his family that special night – to take home the gifts and the tree, for which Nan and the kids have prepared a place in their apartment, and which they have awaited and anticipated.
Sometime after sunrise on Christmas Day, Alex finally arrives at their apartment – barely in time to see Nan and their children as they walk out and step into a taxicab – because Nan has decided to leave Alex and to move in with her mother in her home. Nan and Alex later divorce.
Chapter 7 – The 1960s
In October 1960 Simon, Alex (James Earl Jones), George (Howard Rollins), and others gather in Henning for the funeral of Aunt Lizzie. George is an attorney and a state senator (and the second black graduate of the School of Law at the University of Arkansas), Julius is an architect, and Alex is, as he describes himself, a professional writer with a respectable living. Simon implies that he does not feel as pleased with the accomplishments of Alex as he does with those of his two younger brothers.
In 1960, Alex meets Malcolm X (Al Freeman Jr.), and later he interviews him and a number of other notable people, including George Lincoln Rockwell (Marlon Brando), while writing for Playboy and the Reader's Digest.
While Alex makes another visit in Henning, Cousin Georgia encourages him and his curiosity about his family heritage, then Alex continues his research – to the National Archives, a private source in North Carolina, a historical society in Annapolis, the headquarters of the United Nations, and eventually to the village of Jufureh in The Gambia in West Africa. Before Alex leaves for West Africa, Simon reconciles with his son, saying that he is proud of Alex's work on The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
In Jufureh, Alex listens to a native griot (a tribal oral historian), who tells about a young Mandinka man, Kunta Kinte, who went out to fetch wood to make a drum and was never again seen. Thus, Alex concludes that he has truly discovered his ancestor and his history in Africa.
As with the original, the new series again concludes with a postscript by Alex himself, who encourages viewers to explore their own genealogy, in part by interviewing their older relatives, consulting written records, and holding family reunions.
For the first part of the story, see Roots.
Number in parentheses indicates how many episodes in which the actor/character appears.
- Georg Stanford Brown – Tom Harvey (2)
- Lynne Moody – Irene Harvey (2)
- Debbi Morgan – Elizabeth Harvey (6)
- Beah Richards – Cynthia Harvey Palmer (older) (2)
- Henry Fonda – Colonel Frederick Warner (3)
- Olivia de Havilland – Mrs. Warner (2)
- Richard Thomas – Jim Warner (3)
- Marc Singer – Andy Warner (4)
- Stan Shaw – Will Palmer (4)
- Fay Hauser – Carrie Barden (4)
- Irene Cara – Bertha Palmer Haley (3)
- Avon Long – Chicken George Moore (1)
- Roger E. Mosley – Lee Garnet (1)
- Paul Koslo – Earl Crowther (4)
- Harry Morgan – Bob Campbell (1)
- Dorian Harewood – Simon Haley (5)
- Ruby Dee – Queen Haley (3)
- Hal Williams – Alec Haley (1)
- Greg Morris – Beeman Jones (1)
- Brian Stokes Mitchell – John Dolan (1)
- Ja'net Dubois – Sally Harvey (1)
- Slim Gaillard – Sam Wesley (1)
- George Voskovec – Mr. Goldstein (1)
- Jason Wingreen – Judge Quartermain (1)
- Charlie Robinson – Luke Bettiger (1)
- Ossie Davis – Dad Jones (1)
- Kene Holliday – Detroit (1)
- Albert Popwell – Fader (1)
- John Rubinstein – Lieutenant Hamilton Ten Eyck (1)
- Bernie Casey – Bubba Haywood (1)
- Pam Grier – Francey (1)
- Roosevelt Grier – Big Slew Johnson (1)
- James Daly – R.S.M. Boyce (1)
- Percy Rodriguez – Boyd Moffatt (1)
- Robert Culp – Lyle Pettijohn (1)
- Dina Merrill – Mrs. Hickinger (1)
- Brock Peters – Ab Dekker (1)
- Bever-Leigh Banfield – Cynthia Palmer (young adult) (3)
- Paul Winfield – Dr. Horace Huguley (1)
- Lynn Hamilton – Cousin Georgia Anderson (3)
- Kristoff St. John – Alex Haley (child) (1)
- Logan Ramsey – F.R. Lewis (1)
- Dennis Fimple – Sheriff Duffy (1)
- Damon Evans – Alex Haley (ages 16–28) (1)
- Debbie Allen – Nan Branch Haley (1)
- Andy Griffith – Commander Robert Munroe (1)
- Diahann Carroll – Zeona Haley (1)
- Rafer Johnson – Nelson (1)
- Carmen McRae – Lily (1)
- John Hancock – Scotty (1)
- Telma Hopkins – Daisy (1)
- Kim Fields – Lydia Haley (1)
- Milt Kogan – Mel Klein (1)
- James Earl Jones – Alex Haley (ages 39–46) (1)
- Howard Rollins – George Haley (1)
- Marlon Brando – George Lincoln Rockwell (1)
- Al Freeman, Jr. – Malcolm X (1)
- Barbara Barrie – Dodie Brattle (1)
- Linda Hopkins – Singer (1)
- Bobby Short – Himself (1)
- Lee Chamberlin – Odile Richards (1)
- Norman Fell – Paul Reynolds (1)
- James Broderick – Dr. Lewis (1)
- Michael Constantine – Dr. Vansina (1)
- Johnny Sekka – Ebau (1)
- Zakes Mokae – African Minister (1)
- Claudia McNeil – Sister Will Ada (1)
- Bianca Ferguson – Sophia (1)
- Philip Michael Thomas – Eddie Franklin (1)
Producers Stan Margulies and David L. Wolper were initially reluctant to make a sequel to the 1977 miniseries, but later agreed to do it. Writer Ernest Kinoy then originally wrote an outline for Roots: The Next Generations based on the final seven chapters of Alex Haley's book Roots: The Saga of an American Family and about 1,000 pages worth of family recollections that Alex Haley dictated into a tape recorder.
While Haley contributed as a consultant during the production, many of the family and other events depicted were factually inaccurate or wholly fictionalized. Some glaring examples include:
1. Jim Warner and Carrie Barden were in reality James Turner and Carrie White. James was not the son of a prominent Colonel, who lived in Henning and did not have a brother, who eventually became a Tennessee senator. The miniseries opens in 1883. Jim and Carrie are introduced as strangers and later get married by running off to Memphis. In reality, Jim and Carrie were married in Lauderdale County, TN on 21 Apr 1876, seven years prior to the year the miniseries begins. It is also likely that Jim was not “white” since, in 1876, Interracial marriages were illegal. Lauderdale County officials would have refused to issue a marriage license to any interracial couple seeking to marry. Jim was likely a mulatto. In fact, according to the 1891 Tennessee voter registration rolls, Jim was identified as “black”. The best evidence proving that Jim was not white is an affidavit found in his 1942 probate file in Lauderdale County signed by his widow, Carrie. In paragraph 2 of the affidavit, Carrie referred to Jim (J.B. Turner) as "colored”.
2. W. E. Palmer was Alex Haley’s grandfather as portrayed by Stan Shaw. He married Cynthia Murray (Harvey in the miniseries). Part V opens in late summer, 1932 with interaction between Wil Palmer and his grandson, Alex. Wil shows Alex a slice of a tree explaining that time is short for people compared to the life of a tree. Alex’s parents are living in Henning waiting for Simon to be hired by a college. Eventually Simon is hired by an Alabama College and the Haleys relocate there. After the move, Bertha learns that her father died in Henning. In reality, both Wil Palmer and Bertha Haley were dead by “late summer” 1932. Wil died on 5 Feb 1926 and Bertha died in Normal, AL on 16 Feb 1932. The scene regarding the tree slice could not have happened as portrayed since Alex was less than five years old when his grandfather died.
3. Part VII opens in October 1960 with the funeral of Aunt Lizzie Harvey. In reality, Elizabeth Murray died in 1952, preceded by her sister Cynthia in 1949.
Also, in Part VII, Haley’s interview of George Lincoln Rockwell is presented as having taken place prior to the assassination of Malcolm X when, in fact, the interview occurred in April, 1966, more than a year after Malcolm X’s death.
The producers aimed for casting high quality actors, and basically had no trouble signing the people they wanted because of the success of the first miniseries. While Georg Stanford Brown reprises his role as Tom Harvey, James Earl Jones was selected partially due to his physical resemblance to Haley. Wanting to also participate in the miniseries, Marlon Brando called "out of the blue" and asked for a small yet memorable role; he was cast as George Lincoln Rockwell and won an Emmy Award for his performance.
Roots: The Next Generations originally aired on ABC as 7 two-hour episodes for consecutive nights from February 18 to February 24, 1979.
|Episode||Approximate time period||Featured Kinte descendants|
|Chicken George||Tom Harvey||Cynthia Harvey Palmer||Bertha Palmer Haley||Alex Haley|
|Part I||1882 – 1883||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Part II||1896 – 1897||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Part III||1914 – 1918||Yes||Yes|
|Part IV||1918 – 1921||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Part V||1932 – 1933||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Part VI||1939 – 1950||Yes||Yes|
|Part VII||1960 – 1967||Yes|
|Nº||Title||Directed By||Teleplay By||Original runtime||Original air date|
|1||"Part I"||John Erman||Ernest Kinoy||2 h||February 18, 1979|
|2||"Part II"||Charles S. Dubin||Ernest Kinoy||2 h||February 19, 1979|
|3||"Part III"||John Erman||Ernest Kinoy||2 h||February 20, 1979|
|4||"Part IV"||Charles S. Dubin||Sydney A. Glass and Ernest Kinoy||2 h||February 21, 1979|
|5||"Part V"||Georg Stanford Brown||Thad Mumford and Daniel Wilcox||2 h||February 22, 1979|
|6||"Part VI"||Lloyd Richards||John McGreevey||2 h||February 23, 1979|
|7||"Part VII"||John Erman||Ernest Kinoy||2 h||February 24, 1979|
Ratings and viewers
|Part I||#8||N/A||65 million||27.8%||41%||February 18, 1979||ABC|
|Part II||#9||22 million||65 million||29.5%||N/A||February 19, 1979||ABC|
|Part III||#4||24.4 million||70 million||32.7%||50%||February 20, 1979||ABC|
|Part IV||#6||23.7 million||N/A||31.8%||N/A||February 21, 1979||ABC|
|Part V||#7||23.6 million||N/A||31.7%||N/A||February 22, 1979||ABC|
|Part VI||#10||21.5 million||N/A||28.9%||N/A||February 23, 1979||ABC|
|Part VII||#11||N/A||N/A||28.6%||N/A||February 24, 1979||ABC|
^[a] Part I aired a week prior to the rest of the series in the ratings.
- Best Limited Series
- Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special – Marlon Brando for "Episode VII"
- Best TV Series – Drama
- Outstanding Achievement in Makeup
- Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special – Al Freeman Jr. for "Episode VII"
- Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special – Paul Winfield for "Episode V"
- Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special – Ruby Dee
- Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series or a Special – Ernest Kinoy for "Episode I"
In July and September 2007, the TV One network reran the series hosted by several of the original cast including Lynne Moody, Dorian Harewood, Stan Shaw, Kristoff St. John, and Irene Cara.
- Rich, Frank (February 18, 1979). "Television: A Super Sequel to Haley's Comet". Time. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
- "Roots: The Next Generations". Turner Classic Movies. United States: Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
- "ABC Soard in Ratings With 'Roots' Sequel". Schenectady Gazette. February 24, 1979. p. 12. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
- "110 million see 'Roots' video special". The Tuscaloosa News. March 1, 1979. p. 8. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
- "'Roots' Ratings Dip". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. February 28, 1979. p. 29. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
- Hanauer, Joan (February 28, 1979). "ABC Takes "Roots" Again". The Bryan Times. Retrieved 2010-02-26.
- Museum of Broadcast Communications
- "Sunday's 'Roots II' Tops 2 Movies But 'Mork & Mindy' Leads Nielsens". Toledo Blade. February 20, 1979. p. P-4. Retrieved 2010-02-28.
- Harrison, Bernie (February 24, 1979). "Final 'Roots" Series May Lose Viewers". The Times-News. p. 11. Retrieved 2010-02-26.