Roots (1977)
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Part I 

In 1750, in Gambia, West Africa, Kunta Kinte, son of Omoro and Binta, distinguishes himself among his tribesmen in manhood training rituals. But he does not enjoy his new status long: slave... See full summary »


David Greene


William Blinn (adaptation), William Blinn (written for television by) | 2 more credits »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Edward Asner ... Capt. Thomas Davies
O.J. Simpson ... Kadi Touray
Ralph Waite ... Slater
Maya Angelou ... Nyo Boto
Ji-Tu Cumbuka ... Wrestler
Moses Gunn ... Kintango
Thalmus Rasulala ... Omoro
Hari Rhodes ... Brima Cesay (as Harry Rhodes)
William Watson ... Gardner
Renn Woods ... Fanta (as Ren Woods)
LeVar Burton ... Kunta Kinte / Toby
Cicely Tyson ... Binta
Ernest Thomas ... Kailuba
Rebecca Bess Rebecca Bess ... Girl on Ship
Henry Butts Henry Butts ... Sitafa


In 1750, in Gambia, West Africa, Kunta Kinte, son of Omoro and Binta, distinguishes himself among his tribesmen in manhood training rituals. But he does not enjoy his new status long: slave traders sweeping the countryside seize him. Chained with other captives, Kunta begins an agonized odyssey to the New World. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

23 January 1977 (USA) See more »

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Did You Know?


Kunta Kinte was born in 1750. See more »


The real Juffure, was a large town of around 7,000 people as of the mid-1700's. The series depicts Juffure as having only a few hundred inhabitants and existing as a mud brick village (this would be corrected in Roots). See more »


Wrestler: Kunta Kinte, the panther has courage. So does the warthog. Which kind of courage should a man have?
Kunta Kinte: The best kind.
Wrestler: If it is for certain that you are not yet a man - and that is for certain - then it is more certain that you are not a philosopher. "The best kind" is not an answer, Kunta Kinte.
Kunta Kinte: Well... a warthog's courage, then.
Wrestler: Why?
Kunta Kinte: Well, a warthog never retreats, he never gives up.
Wrestler: And all the hunters admire that warthog's courage.
Kunta Kinte: That's right.
Wrestler: They all say what a brave animal that warthog is.
Kunta Kinte:
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Referenced in Roots: The Gift (1988) See more »

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User Reviews

LeVar Burton debuts as Kunta Kinte
15 January 2017 | by kevinolzakSee all my reviews

ROOTS wasn't the first of what became known as the miniseries, following RICH MAN, POOR MAN, but remains the most famous, the subject matter of who we are and where we come from touching a nerve with audiences of all races. It turned out to be a wise choice to schedule the episodes throughout the week, ratings increasing as word of mouth kept raising the stakes. The opening chapter begins in West Africa's Gambia region for the 1750 birth of Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton), son of Omoro (Thalmus Rasulala) and Binta (Cicely Tyson), growing into manhood with youthful impatience but greater courage than his warrior brethren. Manhood training with the Kintango (Moses Gunn) and the Wrestler (Ji-Tu Cumbuka) serves as more than an apprenticeship, as Kunta also endures his first encounter with white men and their thunder sticks. Returning a man ready to start anew with his own hut, Kunta leaves the village to perform a good deed for his little brother, in search of a log to make him a drum, unaware of the slavers lurking in wait. As fast and cunning as he is there proves to be no escape, captured along with the imposing Wrestler, and chained aboard the Lord Ligonier captained by Thomas Davies (Edward Asner). The topless nudity (done without sensationalism) and frank language, in particular Ralph Waite's course first mate, certainly opened quite a few eyes in the days when the networks normally didn't approve of such details. The African scenes were filmed in Georgia, with first time actor LeVar Burton making the strongest impression in his most famous role. Nominated for an Emmy for their performances were Burton, Cicely Tyson, Moses Gunn, and Ralph Waite, the lone winner Edward Asner.

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