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Groundbreaking Miniseries "Roots" Celebrates 30 Years

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In 1977, the miniseries “Roots” captivated the nation, as more than 100 million people tuned in to follow the lives of several generations of American slaves.

Now, as Alex Haley's groundbreaking work celebrates its thirtieth anniversary, it's finding a new audience and a new home here in New York City. NY1’s Cheryl Wills filed the following report.


Eighty-five percent of all television homes in the U.S. watched "Roots" thirty years ago.

The gripping family drama based on Alex Haley's Pulitzer Prize winning book chronicled several generations of an African American family from slavery through freedom. Roots author Alex Haley died in 1992, and now his widow and son are keeping his legacy alive.

"’Roots’ wasn't dad's work; it was God's work,” says Haley’s son William Alexander Haley. “That's how we feel about it."

The mini-series was based on Alex Haley's extensive research spanning more than a decade. Haley learned he was a seventh-generation descendant of Kunta Kinte in The Gambia in West Africa.

Genealogists have long disputed Haley's research but Haley's family says the story is based on facts and stands the test of time.

"When Kunta was captured, you knew who Kunta's mother and father were,” says Haley. “So he was a person, not someone we created out of the blue."

And it looks like “Roots” may find a home here in New York City.

"’Roots’ on Broadway is coming,” says Haley.

No word yet on when production begins, but Haley says it’s in its planning stages.

- Cheryl Wills


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