On January 23, 1977 Roots premiered on TV s ABC. Purchased by ABC two years before the book s publication and aired shortly after its release, Roots was not only recognized for its popularity, but also for its form and subject matter.
The cast fit the shows content; The oppressed were predominantly black, while the oppressors were white. Thus fitting the period of history in Haley s ancestors life. Roots was a moving story about an African American family s search for the past. Adapted by Alex Haley s best seller Roots , the mini series dramatizes a century in Haley s life in eighteenth century Tribal Africa. The eight part mini-series began with the birth of Kunta Kinte, Haley s fourth great grand father. At the age of 17 he (Kunta Kinte) was captured from West Africa by slave traders and taken to the Americas.
The twelve hour miniseries (which included four two hour and one 1 hour) was said to be one of the highest-rated mini series. The A.C Nelson company estimated that about 130 million viewers watched at least part of Roots. It was reported that mayors from over 30 cities proclaimed the week to be Roots Week. After viewing the program officials in over 250 colleges and universities offered to develop courses dealing with the films/books subject matter.
The eighth episode of Roots averaged a 44.9 rating and a 66 share of audience, far surpass any previous series of programs. The seven episodes following the opening show took the top seven spots in the ratings for that week. The final two-hour telecast notched at 51.1 rating and 71 share, making it the leader in all-time number of TV homes; with 36.98 million as compared to 33.65 million for Gone with The Wind. (NY Times encyclopedia of TV)
Roots was produced by Stan Marguiles and assisted by David L. wholper. It was
distributed by time life videos. The saga ended on Sunday January 30, 1977.