Roots: The Saga of an American Family

By Alex Haley; Published In 1976
Genres: Fiction, Classics, Historical
Carrying little Kunta in his strong arms, he walked to the edge of the village, lifted his baby up with his face to the heavens, and said softly, “Fend kiling dorong leh warrata ka iteh tee.” (Behold—the only thing greater than yourself.)


Fend kiling dorong leh warrata ka iteh tee.


he found himself pondering what it must be like not to belong to someone. What would it feel like to be “free”? It must not be all that good or Massa Lea, like most whites, wouldn’t hate free blacks so much. But then he remembered what a free black woman who had sold him some white lightning in Greensboro had told him once. “Every one us free show y’all plantation niggers livin’ proof dat jes’ bein’ a nigger don’ mean you have to be no slave. Yo’ massa don’ never want you thinkin’ nothin’ ’bout dat.” During

He meant you no harm?" said Omoro.
"He acted very friendly," said the old man, "but the cat always eats the mouse it plats with.

Is this how you repay my goodness--with badness?” cried the boy. “Of course,” said the crocodile out of the corner of his mouth. “That is the way of the world.

I was weeping for all of history's incredible atrocities against fellowmen, which seems to be mankind's greatest flaw...

Jabon Sallah,


nightly boiling and then cooling a broth of freshly pounded fudano leaves in which she soaked her feat -and the pale palms of her hands- to an inky blackness. When Kunta asked his mother she told him to run along. So he asked his father, who told him, "The more blackness a woman has the more beautiful she is.

So Dad has joined the others up there. I feel that they do watch and guide, and I also feel that they join me in the hope that this story of our people can help alleviate the legacies of the fact that preponderantly the histories have been written by the winners.

The first time he had taken the massa to one of these "high-falutin' to-dos," as Bell called them, Kunta had been all but overwhelmed by conflicting emotions: awe, indignation, envy, contempt, fascination, revulsion—but most of all a deep loneliness and melancholy from which it took him almost a week to recover. He couldn't believe that such incredible wealth actually existed, that people really lived that way. It took him a long time, and a great many more parties, to realize that they didn't live that way, that it was all strangely unreal, a kind of beautiful dream the white folks were having, a lie they were telling themselves: that goodness can come from badness, that it's possible to be civilized with one another without treating as human beings those whose blood, sweat, and mother's milk made possible the life of privilege they led.

Through this flesh, which is us, we are you, and you are us!