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    SUBJECTS — U.S./1865 - 1913 & Diversity;

    Age: 12+; Not Rated; Drama; 1977; 90 minutes; Color. Available from Amazon.com.

    Description:     Roots is a video presentation of Alex Haley's Pulitzer Prize winning book, Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Volume VI covers the period from Emancipation through Reconstruction.

    Benefits of the Movie:     The "Roots" series describes important aspects of the black experience in the U.S. and, for all Americans, helps in facing the legacies of slavery and segregation.

    Possible Problems:    MINOR. There is some violence but it is appropriate to the film's message. The ending of this film is improbable. It is unlikely that Chicken George and his family would be permitted to take mules and farm implements and leave whites tied up to trees without being pursued and prosecuted in local courts.

    Parenting Points:     Before watching the movie, review the Helpful Background section and describe its contents to your child. Immediately after the movie ask and help your child to answer the Quick Discussion Question.

    Alex Haley

Benefits of the Movie
Possible Problems
Parenting Points
Selected Awards & Cast
Helpful Background
Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)
Bridges to Reading
Links to the Internet
Assignments, Projects & Activities

MOVIE WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following movie worksheets to keep students' minds on the film and to focus their attention on the lessons to be learned from the movie. Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM's Historical Fiction in Film Cross-Curricular Homework Project and Movies as Literature Homework Project.

Additional ideas for lesson plans for this movie can be found at TWM's guide to Lesson Plans Using Film Adaptations of Novels, Short Stories or Plays.

    Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

      Selected Awards:  The "Roots" series won a Golden Globe Award as the Best Television Series of 1978, nine Emmy Awards, and many other honors.

      Featured Actors:  Ben Vereen, Lloyd Bridges, George Stanford Brown, Olivia Cole, Brad Davis, Burl Ives, and Lynne Moody.

      Director:  Marvin J. Chomsky.

QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION:  What would you have done if you were a black American living in the South during Reconstruction?

Suggested Response: There is no one right response to this question. Look for creativity and an understanding of the historical situation.

    Helpful Background:

    For information on lynching, see Learning Guide to "To Kill A Mockingbird".

    Reconstruction was the process of rebuilding the South that followed the Civil War. It extended from 1865 to 1877. The federal government divided the South into military districts and stationed soldiers there as an army of occupation. The Freedman's Bureau tried to help slaves for a time. During this period, the federal government tried to remake the South. White resistance took the form of passive resistance, terror from masked riders, and economic tactics designed to place blacks in a position similar to slavery. Reconstruction ended with the collapse of the last Southern state governments under Republican control in 1877. Thereafter, in a period called "the Redemption" by Southern whites, the remaining reforms of the reconstruction era, including black suffrage and universal public education, were scaled back.

Click here for TWM's lesson plans to introduce cinematic and theatrical technique.


    Discussion Questions:

    1.  See Discussion Questions for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.

    2.  What would you have done if you were a black American living in the South during Reconstruction?

    3.  What would you have done about issues of race relations if you were a former Confederate soldier living in the South during Reconstruction and the Redemption?

Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

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Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.

    Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)

    Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.


    (Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule; Be tolerant of differences; Use good manners, not bad language; Be considerate of the feelings of others; Don't threaten, hit or hurt anyone; Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements)

    1.  Why was the institution of segregation disrespectful of black persons? Suggested Response: It denied their full humanity and equality as human beings.

Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.

Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner" and uses The Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.

Character Counts and the Six Pillars of Character are marks of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

    Bridges to Reading: Older children who are good readers will enjoy the book Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley. See also Reconstruction: America After the Civil War by Zack Metgar. Rebels Against Slavery, by Patricia and Frederick McKissack, is suitable for ages 11 and up.
  MOVIES ON RELATED TOPICS: All other "Roots" episodes. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman extends the experience of a black family into the era of the Civil Rights Movement. "Roots, The Next Generation" is a sequel to "Roots." We have not seen it.

    Links to the Internet: None.

  PHOTOGRAPHS, DIAGRAMS AND OTHER VISUALS:   Photographs of Signs Enforcing Racial Discrimination: Documentation by Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Photographers from the Library of Congress.

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