Arts and Culture

Shani Gilchrist



Charleston’s Avery Research Center to host screening of documentary honoring Kunta Kinteh’s story

Posted 8/2/2013 7:55:00 PM

So many of us remember watching the television miniseries “Roots” and having it profoundly impact the way we viewed America’s history. The movie was based on Alex Haley’s book of the same name, which was about his ancestor, Kunta Kinteh, who was captured in his native Gambia and sold into slavery. Before leaving Gambia, Kinteh was held at Fort James Island, a British fortress that was a holding cell for slaves during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. From there he was shipped to America, where he would endure one of our country’s darkest periods whose repercussions still ripple through our modern narrative. 

In recent years, the Republic of Gambia has reclaimed the fortress and has renamed it Kunta Kinteh Island. The process is documented in Elvin Ross’s film “Kunta Kinteh Island: Coming Home Without Shackles."  The film explores the points of view of the Gambian government and members of the Kinteh family, who are now residents of neighboring Juffureh Island. The film features narration by Ben Vereen, who tells the story from the point of view of a grandfather sharing his family’s history with his grandson.

Since the release of Ross’s documentary it has toured the country for special screenings that open up a dialogue about the history that is shared between continents. The film will be shown in Charleston at 7 p.m. this Friday, Aug. 2 at the Avery Research Center, 125 Bull St., and will be followed by a panel discussion with the film’s producer. Seating is limited, so be sure to reserve a spot by calling (843) 953-7509.