Roots: The Next Generations

Season 1 Episode 5

Part 5

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Feb 22, 1979 on ABC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Eleven years after the Haley's return home with baby Alex, the story opens in 1932 in Henning, Tennessee during the Great Depression, with Simon still unable to find a job as a professor. In the interim, the family continues to live with Bertha's parents and Simon works for his father-in-law hauling lumber. Simon finally receives and accepts a job offer as Director of Agriculture at A&M Institute in Normal, Alabama, and moves his family there. He meets and eventually works with a white Federal County Extension agent while visiting black farmers in the area. Simon shadows the agent, offering growing advice in an attempt to alter the old destructive farming practices, and notifying the farmers of new farm subsidies recently set up by President Roosevelt. However both men face resistance from the county's largest landowner, who not only refuses the advice, but wants to keep the subsidies for himself. When both men push too far, Simon's house is trashed and the agent is assaulted as a warning. Meanwhile, Bertha slowly takes ill, trying to hide it, but eventually succumbing.moreless

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  • Jumping hurdles...

    In yet another informative episode, we find that the hard times of the Great Depression doesn't discriminate by class. And so now with a double burden, Simon Haley is left scraping for a professorial job somewhere and everyone suffers. But as millions of families did in real life, they came together and pooled resources, and this was shown dramatically with Simon working for his father-in-law at the lumber yard, and in a way, was lucky to have that. However his drive to get his plum job is strong and he does finally get it. However we are now treated to still more injustices that take place within the historic context of Roosevelt's "New Deal" and the creation of subsidies in the farm sector, as the country moves further and further away from agricultural pursuits and is going full force into the industrial age. And being involved in a school specializing in A & T, Simon is smack dab in the middle of it. With this as a backdrop, we are shown more injustices within the society, as some within the African American community rise up into the lettered society while others are trapped as share-croppers and even bilked out of their share of subsidies. And even within the colleges, we find that it often made no difference, as "shuckin' and jivin'" was still expected, whether you were an illiterate farmer or a PHD.

    Sadly, as we segue back into the family story, we find young Alex trying to deal with his mother's illness but throughout it all, the legacy of his family and oral history of its members, continue to be passed onto him.

    A good episode, although a bit too-focused on the farm sub-plot.moreless
Dennis Fimple

Dennis Fimple


Guest Star

Lynn Hamilton

Lynn Hamilton

Cousin Georgia

Guest Star

Les Lannom

Les Lannom


Guest Star

Debbi Morgan

Debbi Morgan

Elizabeth Harvey

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Will: (to young Alex while pointing to tags pinned on the rings of a large tree slice) This here is when I was born and this here, that's today. And all in there (gestures at an area between 2 tags), that's my whole life.
      Alex: But it seems so small.
      Will: Oh it is small. See what seems like a long time to us is nothin' but a tiny span in the life of a tree. And that same tree ain't nothing but a tiny span in the mind of God. Now when you stand back and look at it, you don't see no wars and you won't see no people's lives. All you see is time. Year on year. Everything has its time. The time to be born and a time to die. When the time comes, grandpa will die.

    • Simon: I have a Masters degree in agriculture from Cornell University and there can't be more than a handful of colored men anywhere with my credentials. What do I do with my wonderful credentials? I tote lumber. I don't select it. I don't order it. I totes it. If I have to go on much longer like this, won't be my back that gives out, will be my soul.

  • NOTES (0)