In the wake of successful slavery-themed movies like “12 Years a Slave,” “The Butler” and “Lincoln,” the History Channel just announced plans to remake “Roots,” the landmark 1977 mini-series that drew record ratings. How will they handle the hoax problem?
“Roots” was based on the late Alex Haley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning runaway best-seller, which was billed as a factual account (albeit with some fictional embellishments) of his family’s history from Africa through slavery in the South to present times. All this was said to be based on generations of oral history corroborated by painstakingly researched outside documents.
But as I wrote in these pages back in 2002 (when ABC, which aired the original series, declined to broadcast a 25th anniversary tribute), historians and genealogists now widely agree that “Roots” has been discredited as a historical hoax.