‘Roots’ stars John Amos, Louis Gossett Jr. look back

NEW YORK — It’s been 45 years since the mini-series “Roots” became one of the most-watched series in television history.

The final episode was watched by a then record-breaking 100 million people in the United States.

What You Need To Know

  • “Roots,” the mini-series, is celebrating its 45th anniversary.
  • Alex Haley wrote the novel “Roots.”
  • Louis Gossett Jr. says “Roots” is relevant now more than ever.

“Roots” was based on the novel by Alex Haley, telling the life story of Kunta Kinte, who was captured in West Africa and sold into slavery in Colonial America. Two actors played Kinte: Levar Burton and John Amos.

“That program elevated the American consciousness,” said Amos. “And I think even the international conscious as regards to the history of race, and slavery, and what the impacts are even unto this generation.”

The mini-series starred other big names in entertainment, including Cicely Tyson, Leslie Uggams and Louis Gossett Jr., who played Fiddler, and says “Roots” is still relevant today.

“I think it’s relevant more now than ever, because we’re on the brink of being one nation under God, indivisible,” said Gossett. “So now we have the ability to maybe unite the world with a common credo that is going to take mankind to save mankind.”

Amos believes the reaction to “Roots” today would be mixed.

“It would be curious because of the political atmosphere that we all presently live in now,” he said. “It would range all the way from wonderful, it’s time to show it again, to total indifference.”

Both Amos and Gossett remember the nationwide reaction to “Roots” when it first aired in 1977.

“Everywhere we went supermarkets, we were noticed, the people from “Roots,” said Gossett. “Made me feel very good.”

“It was the event to watch on television,” said Amos. “We enjoyed the highest viewing audience of any mini-series in the history of the medium.”

“Roots” is streaming now on HBO Max.