How Will the Remake of “Roots” Influence Baby Names?

"I am Kunta" ad, Roots, History Channel

The phenomenally popular mini-series Roots (1977) didn’t just set TV viewership records and win a slew of awards. It also had a big impact on U.S. baby names — the biggest impact of any pop culture event of the 20th century, in fact.

But I’ve already posted about the influence of Roots on baby names. So why am I bringing it up again?

Because it’s back! The History Channel will be airing a 4-part remake of Roots in a couple of weeks, starting on May 30.

Many of the ads I’ve seen so far happen to be name-focused, ironically. Several of the teaser clips on YouTube feature a voice saying, “Your name is your spirit. Your name is your shield. Your name is Kunta Kinte.”

I don’t expect the new version of Roots to have the same impact that the original did. But I’m sure it will raise the profile (and thereby increase the usage) of at least a few baby names — likely a mix of names we’re already familiar with (e.g., Kizzy, Kunta) and names that are new this time around, such as:

  • Malachi – the name of the actor who plays Kunta Kinte
  • Regé-Jean – the name of the actor who plays Chicken George
  • Emayatzy – the name of the actress who plays Belle
  • E’myri – the name of the actress who plays young Kizzy
  • Cyrus – the name of a (new?) character, played by hip-hop artist T.I.*

Which baby name do you think will get the biggest boost from the remake of Roots?

*The baby names Major, Messiah and King made big gains in 2012 thanks to T.I.’s reality show T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle.

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