6 September 2015 | bkoganbing
Kunte Kinte's legacy lives on
Although Roots is about slavery it is also about family and legacy and as such has a universal message. The superb quality of the first mini- series is carried on in Roots: The Next Generation.
The first series left off at the Reconstruction Era where hopes of legal, economic, and social equality are dashed, most especially during the Populist era of the 1890s. That was when a lot of demagogic politicians especially those in the South linked racism to economic advancement for poor whites. A legacy the South still has to deal with today.
Great Grandson Tom Harvey of Kunte Kinte from Africa and his wife Irene played by Georg Stanford Brown and Lynne Moody carrying on from the first series. Legends of Kunte Kinte renamed Toby here are handed down to the family as he's referred to as 'the old African'. The issues in their different forms are being addressed down to the present generation as author Alex Haley played by James Earl Jones rediscovers and documents the family's African roots.
Marlon Brando won an Emmy and is unforgettable as George Lincoln Rockwell head of the American Nazi Party. You will not forget his performance as the personification of hate and James Earl Jones's extreme uncomfortableness doing an interview. By contrast Jones develops a rough rapport with Malcolm X played by Al Freeman and gets his first acclaim as a writer doing Malcolm's autobiography.
One role I particularly liked was that of John Hancock who is the CPO of the steward's mess in The Coast Guard and mentor to young Alex Haley played by Damon Evans. It's a similar to the non-commissioned officer that Hancock played in A Soldier's Story.
Also in a mentoring role of sorts is Ossie Davis who mentors Alex Haley's father Simon Haley played by Dorian Harewood in the ways of being a Pullman Porter. The issues involving that job and the organization by A. Phillip Randolph of The Brotherhood Of Sleeping Car Porters ares touched on here, but dealt with fully in 10,000 Black Men Named George.
Roots: The Next Generation continues an excellent tradition and will be seen by more generations than the old African Kunte Kinte could have imagined.