ROOTS VOLUME IV
SUBJECTS — U.S./1812 – 1860 & Diversity;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Rebellion;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Respect.
AGE: 12+; Not Rated;
Drama; 1977; 90 minutes; Color. Available from Amazon.com.
MOVIE WORKSHEETS & STUDENT HANDOUTS
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.
Roots is a video presentation of Alex Haley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Volume IV shows slave life in the early 1800s and concentrates on the disruptive effects of slavery on family and personal relationships.
SELECTED AWARDS & CAST
The “Roots” series won a Golden Globe Award as the Best Television Series of 1978, nine Emmy Awards, and many other honors.
John Amos, Chuck Connors, Scatman Crothers, Sandy Duncan, George Hamilton, Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs, Carolyn Jones, Robert Reed, Richard Roundtree, John Schuck, Madge Sinclair, Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen, Olivia Coles.
Marvin J. Chomsky.
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.
MINOR. There is some violence but it is appropriate to the film’s message.
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, the Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Question under Rebellion, and the Question on Morality and Ethics.
See the TWM student handout Slavery: A World-Wide View, Then and Now.
As shown in “Roots”, slave families were often disrupted and family members sold to distant plantations. This practice was so common that the marriage vows of slaves were modified. The traditional words “til death to us part” were changes to the words “til death or distance do us part.” As “Roots” shows, “enlightened” slaveholders tried to keep families together but would split them up without compunction if a slave ran away or was disruptive to the plantation.
As shown in this segment, slaves were not permitted to learn to read. In fact, it was a crime in most southern states to teach a slave to read. Educated slaves had a tendency to revolt or run away. Literate slaves could more easily conspire to seek their freedom. There is a lot that has been written about the equality of men. Through reading and observation, educated slaves might realize that they were equal to or better than their masters. The gulf between the master and an educated slave is obviously less than that between an educated master and an illiterate slave.
1. Describe some of the differences between slavery in Roman times and slavery in the American South. Why was Rome subject to major slave revolts which threatened the Empire (see Learning Guide to “Spartacus”) but there were no slave revolts of major proportions in the American South?
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS (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. Is it possible for a slave owner to be respectful of a slave’s humanity? Why?
No. The very nature of the slave/master relationship is for the owner to take advantage of the slave. The slave serves the owner without recompense. A good employer/employee relationship is much different. The employer pays for the work of the employee at a reasonable rate. An employer can also train an employee so that he can undertake new responsibilities, have a more satisfying job and make more money.
ASSIGNMENTS, PROJECTS & ACTIVITIES
BRIDGES TO READING
Older children who are good readers will enjoy the book Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley. Books on this period of American history that have been recommended for children ten years and older include: Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters by Patricia C. & Frederick L. McKissack; The Glory Field, by Walter Dean-Myers, a history of the Lewis family from the capture of Muhammad Bilal in Africa in 1753. Historical novels dealing with experiences of slaves and of the South from 1812-1860 that have been recommended for children ten to fifteen include: Nightjohn, by Gary Paulson and Get on Board: The Story of the Underground Railroad, by James Haskins. Rebels Against Slavery, by Patricia and Frederick McKissack, is suitable for ages 11 and up.
This Learning Guide was last updated on July 21, 2011.