HFTSSSome of my favorite type of television shows are those that provide historical information through a fictional drama.  Many of them are available from streaming subscriptions and for purchase on DVD too.  We all know how Downtown Abbey has become a hit show and although it is the sensational drama that brings many of us to the screen, underlying it all is the history.  I am going to attempt to highlight one of these programs each Saturday in place of my “What Happened on” post (Sometimes in addition).

Do you have any favorite programs that fit this category?  I’d love to hear your ideas and I would be glad to include the program in an up coming post.  I also would welcome a guest blogger.

Roots

Roots is a television miniseries in the USA based on Alex Haley’s 1976 novel, entitled Roots: The Saga of an American Family.  Aired by ABC-TV, in 1977, Roots received 37 Emmy Award nominations and won nine. It also won a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award.  The series finale holds the record as the third-highest-rated US television program.

Alex Haley

Alex Haley

In the series beginning, we see the story of Kunta Kinte born in Gambia, West Africa in 1750.  As he grows to manhood in the Mandinka tribe, he takes part in tribal manhood training and later witnesses white men with firearms.  He is captured and sold to a slave trader where he journeys to Colonial America.  The ship arrives in Annopolis, Maryland and the slaves are sold at auction.  A plantation owner buys Kunta Kinte and gives him a new name, Toby.  An older slave and fiddler is assigned to teach Toby English and to train him to be a slave.  From the beginning, Kunta Kinte struggles to be free and has several unsuccessful escape attempts and persistently voicing that his name is Kunta Kinte.  He is whipped until he acknowledges his name is Toby.

LeVar Burton as Kunta Kinte

LeVar Burton as Kunta Kinte

The mini series continues with the story of Kunta Kinte as an adult and then several generations of his family through the l8th and 19th century including the Civil War and the post war period.

Adult Kunte Kinte and his wife, Belle

Adult Kunte Kinte and his wife, Belle

In the end, Alex Haley takes the viewer to Kunta Kinte’s great-great-granddaughter and then to himself.

The program’s popularity lead to millions of people researching their own roots.

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