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Oprah And The Legendary Cast of Roots • 35 Years Later
Oprah And The Legendary Cast of Roots • 35 Years Later
Oprah Winfrey welcomes the cast of Roots to her California home as she marks the 35th anniversary of the mini-series that captivated the nation, set ratings records and changed the way Americans thought about their history. Her legendary guests include Cicely Tyson, LeVar Burton, John Amos, Leslie Uggams, Louis Gossett Jr. and Ben Vereen where they recount how Americans came together as never before.



Oprah And The Legendary Cast of Roots • 35 Years Later
Roots: The Saga of An American Family • Award Winning Cast
A Roots Reunion
When Roots premiered in 1977, the nation came to a standstill. Eighty million people tuned in to the Roots miniseries that would become legendary. Thirty-five years later, Oprah has reunited six of the cast members who made television history at her California home. Get reacquainted with them and find out what they're doing today.
Ball Dearest Oprah Ball
I want to sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart for keeping the vision alive, I'm talking about the one who depicted Black History and ever so deeply touched us inside.
The ABC producers unfortunately decided to let the 35th Anniversary of Roots casually slip away, Yet you were the one who summonsed the cast members and invited them by your place to stay.
I mean we are talking about Gossett, as Fiddler, who completely forgot who he was while portraying his part on the set, As soon as he began to utter the words, "Lord God, help that boy. They gonna whip him dead."
All of America became completely silent with Gossett now convulsing and voicing these words on his own, "What you care what that white man call you? You know who you be—Kunta! That's who you always be—Kunta Kinte!"—[a Mandinka Warrior of your African home!]
You couldn't even hear a pin drop as all of America stood silent and then cried wondering what else Gossett was going to say, As he cradled Kunta into his arms and grunted the words, "Dey's gonna be another day! You hear me! Dey's gonna be another day!"
And that was the cry being cried by all people—the black people, the white people, the red people, the other people living in that time, Because it was the most powerful and emotional scene ever to be aired captivating 130 million viewers without a single soul left behind.
You know Oprah, David Wolper and the producers were totally scared out of their wits to air the mini-series once every week, So with their eyes fully closed they aired it eight nights straight and prayed very deeply that there would be no riots in the streets.
But those riots didn't happen because Alex Haley's message and vision were both ever so genuine and pure, As he created the deeper understanding of a trying time in American History and fully healed the subject all others prior had purposely ignored.
I mean even I can't imagine what it was like for Leslie Uggams, as Kizzy, to be chained to a wagon and then carted on off and away, From her mother Madge Sinclair, as Belle, and John Amos, as adult Kunta, leaving them completely daughterless forever on that day.
And all Kizzy did is what any decent human being would do in giving the one that they love their chance to escape to the North, Yet she was made an example of by Robert Reed, as Dr. William Reynolds, for forging the traveling pass for Noah that he handed forth.
But lucky for her later life treated her well where Ben Vereen, as Chicken George, became her true pride and joy, And due to fighting cocks for Chuck Connors, as Massa Tom Moore, became the very first descendant of the family to no longer be an imprisoned slave boy.
But there still was a struggle in keeping the family together even though Chicken George had all his freedom papers fully intact, As Lloyd Bridges, as Evan Brent, told him that if he stayed more than 60 days in the state he'd no longer be free and as such interact.
So off and away from his wife Olivia Cole, as Matilda, Chicken George rode but not before speaking 'bout the African to his son Tom, So that the heritage of the family that was passed on through Kizzy would transcend down the generations to the very next in line.
And when the war finally ended some of the family wanted to leave the plantation where Matilda came forward and firmly said, "No!" And the sole reason she gave was that Chicken George would return back to the family because he as her man had promised her so.
And exactly as promised Chicken George returned back to Alamance County and saw that he had one more final barrier to overcome, As his family even though now free had their totally forgiven crop debt reinstated which kept them confined and with no place to run.
So he concocted a plan to keep Evan Brent and Burl Ives, as Senator Arthur Johnson, completely unsuspicious and also fully at bay, By letting them think that Brad Davis, as Ol' George Johnson, whom they put in charge, had it all under control for them to look away.
And then during an unannounced and surprise visit by Evan Brent and the Senator, Ol' George Johnson very diligently enacted his part, By showing them both his work was in order and how with six more young mules the 100 acres to be planted would get a faster start.
The next part of the plan was for Ol' George's wife, Lane Binkley, as Martha, to go into town to lure Evan Brent back to the farm, Where she hysterically pretended and told him that Ol' George had an accident where his leg may be broken as the possible harm.
At first it appeared Evan Brent came completely unattended so that's when Tom Harvey, the Blacksmith, firmly drew his gun, And mentioned that he and his family only wanted to get out of the county and for them not to be stopped while this was being done.
However, Evan Brent wasn't that foolish to walk into an ambush where his backup men came about and pointed their guns at Tom, Where Tom was then told he was about to lose any remaining skin on his back and Ol' George Johnson was struck to the ground.
Now the question Evan Brent demanded to be answered while fully clenching his fist and ready to strike Ol' George Johnson again, Was where were the remaining family members hiding causing Martha to cry out, "They're in the barn" with a very frightened amen.
But Kizzy's true pride and joy, Chicken George, was eagerly ready and waiting and had his cleaver backup plan firmly intact, Where as soon as Evan's men forced opened the barn doors, it was the thrown cocks at their faces that began their strike back.
Chicken George then came 'round from the side of the barn and reminded Evan Brent that it was he who once chased him out of town, Where he simply reiterated that he only wanted to leave the county peacefully and then turned Evan over to Tom to be broken down.
Now tied to a tree Evan was asked, "How do it feel Mr. Brent to be tied up like a hog for slaughter waiting for your flesh to turn to jelly? How do it feel Mr. Brent to be on the other side of the lash?" Where all Evan could say was, "No Tom, please Tom!" in fear of the gash.
But that initial cutting gash never happened because Tom purposely lashed his whip at the ground and to the side of where Evan stood, As I guess right then he was thinking 'bout the African and his struggles for freedom where whipping another ain't gonna do any good.
The family then boarded their wagons and proceeded to leave but Matilda first had something very important to say about the plantation, Where she told her man, Chicken George, "This ain't never been our home! When we ride out of here I ain't never gonna think of it again!"
The family safely arrived to Henning where Chicken George and Tom spoke about the African and his land of the free across the big sea, And they all knelt down in prayer with, "Hear me oh African the flesh of your flesh has come to freedom. You is free at last. We is free!"
"And I never forgot those stories which my grandmother Cynthia told me. And in 1963, after I had retired from a career in the U.S. Coast Guard, I became obsessed with a desire to know more about our family, more about its history. It was a search that would take me finally twelve years to complete. And those things that I learned I wrote in a book called Roots." ~ Alexander Murray Palmer Haley


First Look: Oprah And The Legendary Cast of Roots
First Look: Oprah And The Legendary Cast of Roots
Sneak Peek: Roots Cast Members Arrive at Oprah's Home
In this OWN special event, Oprah opens the doors to her home and reunites the legendary cast of Roots 35 years after they helped make television history. Cast members from Roots arrive at Oprah's home. It's a conversation you won't want to miss. Watch as Oprah welcomes them to her California home.


Cicely Tyson And LeVar Burton On Roots And History
Cicely Tyson On Roots, Grief And Strength
LeVar Burton On Revisiting History's Painful Past in Roots
Cicely Tyson plays Binta, the mother of Kunta Kinte, in Roots. During filming, Cicely lost her own mother. Watch as she discusses how being "broken open" influenced her onscreen portrayal of a mother whose son was taken from her and why Cicely treasures the negative experiences in her life more than the positive ones. The Middle Passage was the hellish 4,000-mile journey slaves were forced to endure across the Atlantic Ocean and a nightmare actor LeVar Burton had to portray on film as Kunta Kinte in the legendary miniseries Roots. Watch as LeVar Burton explains how he believes the ancestors helped protect him during the difficult shoot.


LeVar Burton, Leslie Uggams, Sandy Duncan On Roots
LeVar Burton On Filming The Whipping Scene From Roots
Leslie Uggams And Sandy Duncan On The Wagon Scene
It was one of the most chilling scenes of Roots. Louis Gossett Jr., the actor who played Fiddler, was actually convulsing on the set as he cradled LeVar Burton into his arms. Watch as LeVar Burton, the actor who played Kunta Kinte, reflects on filming the whipping scene and the network's reaction to it. Viewers haven't been able to forget the heart-wrenching scene in Roots when Sandy Duncan's villainous character Missy Anne doesn't stop Leslie Uggams' character Kizzy from being sold. Watch as Leslie and Sandy reflect on filming that scene and find out why Sandy has never watched Roots all the way through.


The Impact of Roots On America And Memories From The Set
The Impact of Roots On America
Memories From The Set of Roots
Did Roots open the door to a greater conversation about race in America? Watch as John Amos, Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen and Louis Gossett Jr. discuss why that door needs to be opened wider and where they think the country is today. Even before Roots riveted Americans, cast members say they knew they were a part of something special. Watch as cast members John Amos, Leslie Uggams, Louis Gossett Jr. and Ben Vereen describe the atmosphere of the set.


Ben Vereen On Chicken George And LeVar On Roots Influence
Ben Vereen On Becoming "Chicken" George
How Roots Influenced Reading Rainbow
When Ben Vereen first heard about a project called Roots, he knew he wanted to be a part of it. His agent had other ideas. Watch as Ben shares how the role of "Chicken" George finally came his way thousands of miles from Hollywood. LeVar Burton was first introduced as Kunta Kinte, but an entire generation now knows him from Reading Rainbow. Watch as he discusses how Roots showed him the power of television and how he used that to connect children with literature.


LeVar Burton On His Faith And On Life's Big Questions
LeVar Burton Opens Up About His Faith With Oprah
LeVar Burton And Oprah Debate Life's Big Questions
At age 13, LeVar Burton studied for the Catholic priesthood. Watch as LeVar discusses his journey through faith, how to find a spiritual center and why life is like a walking prayer for LeVar. It's the question no one has asked LeVar Burton before: What's your definition of God? Watch to see his answer—and his discussion with Oprah about more of life's big questions.


Louis Gossett Jr. And Oprah's "Back To Our Roots" Dinner
Louis Gossett Jr. On Winning The Academy Award
Oprah And Cast Members Enjoy A "Back To Our Roots" Dinner
Louis Gossett Jr., who portrayed Fiddler, won an Emmy for Roots as Best Actor and was only the third African-American male to win an Oscar for An Officer and a Gentleman. Watch as Louis describes how his life changed after winning the Oscar. Oprah and the cast from Roots sat down for a "Back To Our Roots" dinner. Watch as Oprah and chef Art Smith consult on the menu. Then, join Oprah and cast members in a toast of thanks to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Alex Haley.

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