Presenters Join Pulitzer Prize Winner at Roots at 40 Conference

On October 6, 2017, Goodwin College in East Hartford will host Roots at 40, a day-long academic conference commemorating the 40th anniversary of the landmark 1977 miniseries based on the book by Alex Haley. Keynote speaker for the conference is Colson Whitehead, author of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad. Whitehead’s other works include The Noble Hustle, Zone One, Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, and a collection of essays, The Colossus of New York. His reviews, essays, and fiction have appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Harper’s, and Granta.

The inspiration for the October conference is Goodwin College’s collection of Alex Haley’s research papers for Roots. The College has invited experts from throughout the country to submit proposals for related presentations. As of this writing, the list includes:

Reconsidering Roots: Race, Politics, and Memory, Erica L. Ball (Occidental College) and Kellie Carter Jackson (Wellesley College); Haley and The Gambia: Tensions Between Kunta Kinte’s Story and Gambia’s Atlantic Past, Liza Gijanto (St. Mary’s College of Maryland); An American Horror Story: Apocrypha Noir as the Apocalypse to the American Fairy Tale; or Black Film as Pedagogical Imperative, Kelisha Graves (Fayetteville State University); Carly Houston Overfelt, Kunta Kinte’s Linguistic Legacy; Good Slaveholders and Questionable Allies: The Moral Ambiguity of the White Characters in “Roots,” Laurie F. Leach (Hawai’i Pacific University); and “Needed More Than Ever”: Re-watching Roots in the Context of Black Lives Matter, Allison Page (Old Dominion University), and Making Roots: A Nation Captivated, Matthew Delmont, (Arizona State University).

Reservations for attendance may be made at – special rates for students and groups. Questions on the Roots at 40 conference at Goodwin College may be addressed to Susan Hansen at or 860-727-6782.

Roots at 40 is funded, in part, by Connecticut Humanities, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, supporting cultural and historic organizations that tell the state’s stories, build community, and enrich lives.