Roots begins with Kunta Kinte, emerging from childhood and undergoing warrior training in his tribal homeland. The slavers arrive soon enough, and after a harrowing three-month ride back across the Atlantic, Kunta is sold, becomes Toby under his new master, attempts repeated escapes, and eventually accepts his fate as he settles down with a wife and child. The Revolutionary War comes and goes, and Toby's daughter Kizzy is sold, becoming the mother of her new master's son, known as Chicken George. Chicken George in turn is sent to England to pay off a gambling debt. When he returns home after 14 years, he is a free man. The Civil War arrives, and the rest of the slaves are freed. Soon enough the family faces the perils of vehement racism and the KKK, and Chicken George finally leads his family to safety in a new settlement.
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Overnight the film changes completely: Gone is the narrator and the documentary feel. Now the film is in color, and the mud people are no longer savages. They have miraculously evolved into proper ladies and gentlemen, complete with tuxedos, dinner parties, dancing, and plenty of gossip. The absurdity continues, just in a different way. Title cards appear willy-nilly, in various foreign languages. Parlor room conversations contain the kind of pseudo-intellectual nonsense you'd expect, only these statements are nonsense -- the characters saying them are all primitives!
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The former President quoted Nelson Mandela in the wake of the violence.