In 1976, a television event made American history. Depicting the generational struggle of an African family — from capture on the African continent all the way through the end of the American Civil War — “Roots” gives viewers an alternative view of life in early America. Monumental for both its historical context and popular success, the miniseries will soon see a modern revival.

 

Last week, it was announced that three television networks — A&E, Lifetime, and History — would all broadcast an updated version of the 1976 classic. The production appears to quite literally refer back to its roots. LeVar Burton, star of the original miniseries, will co-produce the updated “Roots” alongside Mark Wolper, son of the man who produced the original.

 

Aside from the original version of the production, the producers have stated that they will draw considerably from the source novel, “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” as well as consult with African-American historians.

 

 

The timing for the “Roots” revival makes sense from a cultural standpoint, as African-American history has become a ripe topic in media over the last few years. With Oscar wins for films such as “12 Years a Slave” (Best Picture) and “Selma” (Best Original Song: John Legend and Common), people seem to have become more willing to talk openly about the black experience in America.

 

We must never forget the reality behind this candidness. Racial tensions in the United States have reached a fever pitch in recent years. Between the widely publicized deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Freddie Gray (to name but a few), and disproportionately high numbers of incarcerated African-Americans in prison, attention needs to be paid.

 

Looking to the past is an important part of shaping our future. Co-Producer Burton himself stated in an interview: “I believe now is the right time to tell this story, so that we can all be reminded of its impact on our culture and identity.”

 

Are you excited for the “Roots” remake? Do you think it is important that this story be told to a new generation? Comment below or tweet @connerws to tell us what you think!