Facts about Kunta Kinte

Born: c. 1750
Died: c. 1810
Birthplace: Gambia, West Africa
Best known as: Hero of Roots


Kunta Kinte Biography

Kunta Kinte is the central figure in Alex Haley‘s 1976 book Roots. According to Haley’s research, Kunta Kinte was a real historical figure who was 17 when he was captured and taken to America as a slave aboard the ship Lord Ligonier in 1767. Roots traces the lives of Kinte and his descendants down to Haley himself, Kinte’s great-great-great-great-grandson.

The book was turned into an epic 12-hour TV miniseries in 1977, starring LeVar Burton as young Kunta Kinte and John Amos as the older Kinte. The miniseries was a landmark hit: “For eight consecutive nights it riveted the country,” reports the Museum of Broadcast Communications, adding that Roots “scored higher ratings than any previous entertainment program in history.” In a 2016 remake on The History Channel, Kunta Kinte was played by Malachi Kirby.

Extra credit

A memorial to Alex Haley and Kunta Kinte stands in Annapolis, Maryland, at the dock where Kinte arrived.


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