The Only Thing Greater Than Yourself…

Sadly, the majority of young people today have no knowledge of the TV mini-series “Roots,” and how groundbreaking it was to see a Black family’s journey through the Middle Passage, enslavement and eventual freedom. Roots brought the reality of American chattel slavery into the homes of millions of Americans in a way that would forever destroy the myth of the “contented slave” that so many people believed.

Based on Alex Haley’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, the program garnered 36 Emmy Award nominations and won nine.

The Museum of Broadcast Communications recounts ABC Network execs’ fears that Roots would flop:

“…the show’s consecutive-night format allegedly resulted from network apprehensions. ABC programming chief Fred Silverman hoped that the unusual schedule would cut his network’s imminent losses—and get Roots off the air before sweeps week.”

Despite the network’s fears, each nightly broadcast of the 8-episode series drew 61-71% of all television viewers (!) The final episode of Roots was watched by more than 100 million people. That episode (aired in 1977) was the most watched television program ever, and even after 30+ years, it still stands as the fourth-highest rated U.S. television program in history.

The series is available for purchase at many online locations, and you can watch Roots episodes on your PC at Amazon.com


6 Responses to “The Only Thing Greater Than Yourself…”

  • Top Posts — WordPress.com Says:

    […] The Only Thing Greater Than Yourself… Sadly, the majority of young people today have no idea what the TV mini-series “Roots” was, and how groundbreaking it […] […]

  • RR1985 Says:

    Hard for me to see why a show about being slaves could be something i want to watch or want to show to my kids. I see enough negative ish about my people everyday I’ll pass.

    • kathleencross Says:

      That could only be said by someone who has never seen it. Your point’s well taken, but, one of the things we’ve done is listen to too many versions of what slavery was and what it did to us. Roots is like a visual talking drum that sings about dignified Africans who survived and thrived against the greatest of all odds. Interesting how other cultures speak often of their holocausts with the understanding that the cure for the pain is in the pain. Watching Roots will make you feel proud, not the opposite.

      • RosefromPittsburgh Says:

        I agree with Kathleencross! As a young girl one of the first books I read was “Roots”. My parents made sure that my sister and I watched every episode of Roots when they ordered the whole series on TV long time ago on VHS. To this day my parents still have those tapes and I hope to one day to have my soon to be born son to watch as well. It gave me a better understanding of slavery and who I am as an Black American. My dad even did the “The Only Thing Greater Than Yourself on me the day I was bought home from the hospital after being born. I don’t think there’s anything negative about Roots it’s American History and Black History that we would not get to see or study about in school. Maybe if a lot of these kids take a look at Roots they might stop and think about killing each other (black on black crime) and start respecting one another. Roots is a must watch!!

  • Dawn May Adams Says:

    I feel sorry for the person who said they would pass. I watched every episode of “Roots” when it first aired on TV. I also read the book by Alex Haley. This wonderful African/American human being, spent years searching for his roots–and found them, and by telling his story helped countless others to search for theirs. How could anyone who is interested in bringing peace on this earth, and the unity of mankind not want to teach their children about the history of our origination with all of its verities. I am a human being who happens to be White. I love my brothers and sisters of all ages, sizes, colors, shapes or whatever. We are all God’s children, and He loves us all. For His sake–don’t close your mind. Learn all you can, and teach your children how to learn. HELP WIPE OUT IGNORANCE–it’s a killer!!

    • RosefromPittsburgh Says:

      I agree with you 110% Dawn May Adams. I wish there were more people on this planet like you! God Bless!!

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