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Roots: The Next Generations is a 1979 television miniseries that continues the story of the family of Alex Haley from the 1880s, and their life in Henning, Tennesseemarker, to the 1960s, with Haley researching his family history and his travels to Africa to learn of his ancestor, Kunta Kinte. This sequel to the 1977 miniseries is based on the last seven chapters of Haley's Roots: The Saga of an American Family and additional material by him.

Roots: The Next Generations originally aired on ABC as 7 two-hour episodes for consecutive nights from February 18 to February 24, 1979.

Plot summary

The story resumes in 1882 where Tom Harvey (Georg Stanford Brown), the great-grandson of Kunta Kinte, has become a prominent leader of the black community in Henning, Tennesseemarker. Although he has established a working relationship with the town's white leader, Col. Warner (Henry Fonda), race relations in the community are still strained. Jim Crow laws, literacy tests, and later the Ku Klux Klan increase the tensions.

Tom's youngest daughter Cynthia (Bever-Leigh Banfield) falls in love and marries hard-working Will Palmer (Stan Shaw). Despite the racial oppression, Will wins the trust of the local business leaders and is allowed to takeover the local lumberyard after its previous owner Bob Campbell (Henry Morgan) ran it into the ground.

As both the town and the lumber business grows, Will and Cynthia are able to send their daughter Bertha (Irene Cara) to Lane College. There, she meets and falls in love with classmate Simon Haley (Dorian Harewood), the son of a sharecropper. With an insufficient amount of money to attend A&T Collegemarker, Simon gets a summer job as a porter for the Pullman Company. He meets a passenger who later identifies himself as R. S. M. Boyce (James Daly), an executive of the Curtis Publishing Companymarker, and offers to help pay Simon's tuition and board.

Soon after he graduates from A&T, Simon enlists in the military to fight in World War I and is deployed to Francemarker with a segregated, all-black unit. After the war, he returns to America and marries Bertha. Simon then gets a job as a professor of agriculture at the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical Institutemarker. During the New Deal era, Simon tries to organize the local farmers, much to the resistance of the local white cotton landowners.

As World War II approaches, Simon convinces his seventeen-year-old Alex (Damon Evans) to enlist in the military. Alex joins the U.S. Coast Guard. During his service in the Pacific theater of operations, he teaches himself how to write stories. After the war, he successfully petitions the Coast Guard for permission to transfer into the field of journalism, but his career ambitions end up costing his marriage to his first wife Nan (Debbie Allen).

Approaching his 40s, Alex (now played by James Earl Jones) has become an established journalist in the 1960s, drawing high-profile interviews with such figures as George Lincoln Rockwell (Marlon Brando) and Malcolm X (Al Freeman, Jr.), and collaborating with the latter to write The Autobiography of Malcolm X. A visit to his relatives in Henning then sparks his desire to research Kunta Kinte and the rest of his family history. The miniseries ends after Alex travels to Africa and listens to a tribal historian tell the story of Kinte's capture.


Comparison to book

Based on the final seven chapters of Haley's Roots: The Saga of an American Family and additional material by him, Roots: The Next Generations has minor differences compared to its source material.

TV One

In July and September 2007, the network TV One reran the series hosted by several of the original cast including Lynne Moody, Dorian Harewood, Stan Shaw, Kristoff St. John, and Irene Cara.

DVD release

The miniseries was released on DVD by Warner Bros. on October 9, 2007

External links

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