Roots parents guide

Roots Parent Review

The injustices and violence depicted here honor the memory of those lost to slavery, but also make this remarkable series recommendable only to older teens and adults.

Overall A-

Best-selling author Alex Haley chronicles his genealogical roots from Kunta Kinte, who was abducted from his African homeland in 1765, to Chicken George, who eventually leads his family to freedom after the Civil War.

Violence C
Sexual Content C-
Profanity B
Substance Use C

Roots is rated Not Rated TV-14

Movie Review

In a village somewhere near the Gambia River, Binta (Cicely Tyson) struggles to give birth. Soon, proud father Omoro (Thalmus Rasulala) presents his new son to the universe and names him Kunta Kinte. With wise and loving guidance from his parents, the child develops in a rich and diverse African culture during the 1700s. At fifteen years old, he is ready to enter his manhood training, where he will learn all that is necessary to become an adult and tribal warrior.

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In a distant place, another kind of preparation is underway. Thomas Davies (Edward Asner) surveys the inventory of his vessel: branding irons, thumb screws, neck and leg shackles. The religious first-time captain of a slave ship clearly wrestles with the morality of this venture, while his crewmen look forward to their pillage and full purses at journey's end.

Inevitably, the slavers arrive and the abductions begin. Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton) and others are ripped from their homes, chained together, and packed literally like sardines amidst pools of their own vomit. These terrified victims endure the long ocean voyage only to be sold as slaves to the highest bidder in the New World. Thus begins the epic masterpiece chronicling the family of author Alex Haley as they strive for freedom during America's tumultuous infancy.

Parents have a lot to take into consideration when evaluating the appropriateness of Roots for their families. The compelling story pierces the soul and cries out at the injustices inflicted, and the complacency that facilitated man's brutality to man. As a result many content concerns arise: Female nudity reflects the tribal clothing standards, barbarous slave traders are guilty of numerous rapes (implied, not seen), and young girls are sold for sexual purposes. The film is punctuated with violence including a distressing scene of unrestrained whipping.

Despite the dire circumstances presented in this drama, there is joy to be found. Roots beautifully demonstrates the strength and comfort derived from the family ties and close friends of a people who had nothing else. Our hearts soar as we watch an entire society triumph over ignorance and oppression.

Directed by David L. Wolper Productions. Starring LeVar Burton, Todd Bridges, Robert Reed . Running time: 570 minutes. Theatrical release December 31, 1969. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Roots here.

Roots Parents Guide

Slavery may have been abolished long ago, but prejudice has not. Why can’t changing a law change a person’s attitude? How has the history of slavery in America’s past contributed to racial tensions that exist today?

What lessons can you learn from the suffering of this people? How can these insights be applied to other situations?

To learn even more about the production of Roots and the history of African-Americans, check this website:

Roots played an important role in a renewal of interest in one’s genealogical history. If you have a desire to trace your roots, check out the wealth of information available at—it’s free.

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