It ties in with everything I care about as it pertains to collectively educating ourselves and using what learning and education (and learning about history) offer to unravel things like prejudice so we can–collectively–get on with the hard work of making this world a better place.
Roots the TV series circa January 1977 framed my worldview; I watched it then at all of 6 years old as I began 1st grade at an integrated school in Denver.
Roots the book had a greater impact on me than anything I’ve ever read.
And have you been checking out that new series “Underground” on the WGN Network about slaves in Georgia and the Underground Railroad? Excellent, really excellent stuff. The show’s produced by the recent pop music phenom John Legend. And one of the executive producers is Akiva Goldsmith. Is the name not immediately familiat to you? He won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “A Beautiful Mind”, but of greater relevance in many ways to the topic at hand and of this as well as my past two posts, is that he was also a producer of the much-overlooked historical period piece I wrote about previously: Jonah Hex. And indeed, the same production elements that I cited as groudbreaking in Jonah Hex are absolutely being deployed in this show “Underground”: contemporary, fast cutting (editing) style of visual pacing and contemporary music tending towards the more dissonant and dark side of the tune; these things help the productions feel immediate, rather than historical, which to me, is the goal.
And then Roots! Comin’ back. Crazy! And awesome. The production team, acting team, everything seems top notch and I can’t wait.
Then, to boot, I found out the other day that a cousin of mine is appearing in it! (He’s a fine actor and a guy of depth. He was also in Dallas Buyer’s Club.) How cool is that?! Very. It’s very cool.
I mean, this production: Laurence Fishburne as Alex Haley, Forrest Whittaker as Fiddler. And annointing this iteration, in the role this time as a producer is LeVar Burton–who of course catapulted into his career as Kunta Kinte, Haley’s African ancestor back in the 70s…only to go on to enlighten millions of kids’ minds with Reading Rainbow and then to go …where no one has gone before in Star Trek the Next Generation. The Point is, it’s top brass on this deal, and I’m stoked for my cousin to get to be part of such a high-profile project.
And here’s another very cool thing:
My best and oldest friend’s grandfather–a man who was also the closest thing I ever knew or had to a grandpa since I didn’t know either of mine–I discovered a few years ago is related to Roots author Alex Haley. Check it out: