"Chicken" George Lea (Moore in the miniseries) is the son of Kizzy Kinte and grandson of Kunta Kinte and Belle Waller. He is also the great-great-grandfather of Alex Haley. He is best known for his colorful personality, green scarf and black derby hat with rooster feathers. And a great trainer.
George was born into slavery on the winter of 1806 in Caswell, North Carolina to Kizzy and their master, Tom Moore (Lea in the novel), who named him "George" after the first slave who died many years before. He was conceived when his mother was repeatedly raped by her new master after her arrival on the Moore Plantation from Virginia. Even though her son was born because of rape, Kizzy still raised George with love and considered him a grandson of the African instead a son of Tom Moore. George grows up not knowing Tom Moore had sired him. By the time George was three or four years old, his mother began telling him the story and passing knowledge of his African grandfather, Kunta Kinte, which would became a family tradition. At age six, George started out as a field hand at the fields, which he disliked, alongside his mother and other slaves; however, his fun-loving personality and mimicry skills impressed Massa Moore so much that the latter promoted George as a performer at the master's big house for guests who visited the plantation. Meanwhile, George started to visit the mysterious Uncle Mingo's place, where the latter fought and trained fighting chickens for Massa Moore. Sister Sarah told Kizzy through fortune telling that her son would grow up to be somebody.
At age 12, Massa Moore moved George from his mother's cabin to live at the gamecock pen where Uncle Mingo lives and he trains and cares chickens and fighting roosters for the master. Around age 14 or 15, George started to travel with Massa Moore and Mingo, where he won in his first cockfight. At age 18, Massa Moore promotes George as the new head trainer for cock fighting as he sees George's potential to bring him wealth and fame. Uncle Mingo gives George black derby hat with rooster feathers that would later became his trademark along with the green scarf. He earns the nickname "Chicken George" for his colorful, flamboyant personality and his amazing cock-fighting skills. Although he was a ladies man, he met his future wife Matilda, a strong faithful Christian slave woman who once preached the gospel at freed blacks which scared them off where they were partying. They married and have eight children, including Tom and Lewis Harvey.
Chicken George, the No. #1 Cock fighter in Caswell CountyEdit
Now a successful and number one cock fighter of Caswell County, Chicken George traveled across the southern states of America with Tom Moore, winning most prize he was coned out money from cockfights. Due to George's amazing skills in cockfighting, he and Master Moore became best friends.
Nat Turner's RebellionEdit
One day, after winning a match in cockfights, George had a conversation with former slave about freedom, the latter told George that being free is better than everything. On their way back home, Chicken George driving while Master Moore sleeping in the back of the wagon, were confronted by three aristocrats. They asked George if he knows about a slave named Nat Turner and threatened to kill him if he does, George replied he didn't know anything about Turner's rebellion. He was luckily saved by his master, whom the aristocrats insulted for being drunk. When they came back to the plantation, Missus Moore, scared and paranoid, fired shots at George (one of them hits George in the right arm) after she thought he killed her husband. Kizzy warns "Chicken" George that he couldn't trust Massa Moore as his friend because he is a "toubob." George tells Kizzy that Massa Moore is his friend. However Massa Moore bursts into George's family cabin with a shotgun threatening the family that if he sees any rebellion from the slaves, he will shoot them, He then orders them to retrieve everything to the Big House. This caused George to figure a way to buy freedom for his family and himself. Things went back to normal after Nate Turner was caught and hanged. George and Matilda discovered a dead remnant of Turner, Matilda asked George why the dead remnant is smiling.
Shocking Truth and BetrayalEdit
On his way to visit Tom Moore, Squire James sees Chicken George and his wife Matilda picking cotton. James tells George that he and Sir Eric Russell issued a challenge to Tom Moore in cockfighting and he also says that he would buy George to train other cock fighters and would free him and his family in five years, however Master Moore refused Squire James to buy George, which infuriates Chicken George making him understand that his mother was right about never trust a crooked white like Master Moore. Angered and betrayed by Tom Moore for denying any chance of freedom, George went back to the woods and picked up a gun from the dead remnant to kill Tom Moore, but Kizzy prevented him by revealing that Tom Moore was his father. Later, George confronted his father, saying how could Moore denied him, his own child of his chance of being free. Master Moore replies that he has twenty children besides George in different counties by slave black women whom the master raped during his/their trips. When George told Moore that he wasn't fighting his chickens anymore, Master Moore threats George that he would sell George's son, Tom, or Matilda which gives George no choice but to continue cockfighting for Master Moore.
Fight against Sir Russell; Heading to EnglandEdit
Before their match (which would be their last match together) against Squire James and Sir Eric Russell, Master Moore promises George that he would give his freedom if they win their match against Sir Russell. Back on good terms with Tom Moore, their chickens fight Sir Russell's chickens. During break, Tom Moore bet high with $20,000 against Sir Russell, Russell accepts, however one of Tom Moore's chickens lost to Russell's chicken. Tom Moore lends Chicken George to Sir Russell in order to pay the debts. Before he heads off to England to train other cock fighters, George encouraged his family to stay strong and told the story of the African, known as Kunta Kinte, his grandfather. George would train other cock fighters for Sir Russell and after over 20 years of his servitude to Sir Russell, Russell sends George back to America.
Return to America as a FreedmanEdit
In 1861, Chicken George, aged 54, returned to the Moore Plantation only to find out that his family (except Kizzy) were sold off to Sam Harvey's Plantation in Alamance County, North Carolina. George found one of his slave friends sitting in the grass, he asked her where his family was and she told him she knew where his mother was, and took him to a grave. George visited Massa Moore for one last time, he was stunned when his father became a lonely drunken, desperate man. Tom Moore told George that his mother, Kizzy, had passed away last spring. Chicken George reminded the master about the promise Tom Moore made of George's freedom. Although Master Moore promised George that the latter would get his emancipation paper once he return, he pretended that he never made a promise to his son. Then Massa Moore tried to persuade George to stay and help his daddy in fighting chickens again, George then replied that he didn't had a daddy. After the conversation, Tom Moore kept his words and gave the emancipation paper to George, earning George the first member of the Kinte family to become a freedman. After George received his emancipation paper, he left the Moore Plantation in the search of his family. Chicken George reunites his family however due to a law that if any free man stay sixty days in a slave state, he/she will return as a slave. Before he heads to Canada, Chicken George shared a family tradition oral history with his son, Tom Harvey, about himself, his mother Kizzy, and his grandfather the African, Kunta Kinte. After the Civil War and slavey ended in 1865, Chicken George reunited his family and told them about a new place in Tennessee where he settled for them to live. Chicken George and his family devised a plan to scare Evan Brent who have been terrorizing the family since slavery ended. When they had Evan tied to a tree and Tom almost whipped him, George told Brent that if he tries to threaten his family again, George would kill him. Before they leave, his wife Matilda reminisced that all the sufferings and their lives in different plantations through slavery, it was never their home. After, George and the family left North Carolina to start a new life at Henning, Tennessee. During their trip, Matilda told her husband that his mother, Kizzy and his grandfather, Kunta Kinte, are smiling above from the heavens.
The family landed on Henning, Tennessee and founded the New Hope Church. His wife, Matilda died in 1883 after an argument between her son, Tom, and his daughter, Elizabeth. George became depressed and bittered after his wife's death. Chicken George was badly burned by fire in an accident and shortly died in 1890. His family and friends were extremely saddened at his funeral.
- "Chicken" George was portrayed in 1977 television miniseries, Roots, by multi-talent actor, Ben Vereen, Ave Long in 1979's Roots: The Next Generation, and by British newcomer Rege-Jean Page in the remake.
- He became the first member of the Kinte family to earn his freedom.
- In the miniseries, when Chicken George was about to kill Master Moore, his mother Kizzy told George that the master was his father, he was in the mid-thirties by that time. While in the novel, Kizzy, infuriated by thirteen-year-old George having moved out of their cabin to train at gamecock pen by Master Lea, abruptly revealed that Tom Lea was his father.
- In novel, as a son of Kizzy and Tom Lea, Chicken George was light-skinned biracial "sasso-borro" due to having two African and Caucasian ancestries.
- In the novel, Massa Lea did not keep promises to George which led George to outsmarting his father.