EW Reunions: 'Roots' stars LeVar Burton, Ben Vereen, and Louis Gossett Jr. discuss the ground-breaking miniseries

“There’s a line that goes through the Civil Rights movement, through Roots in [the] 1970s, to Barack Obama being elected,” LeVar Burton notes as he and Roots co-stars Ben Vereen and Louis Gossett Jr. reminisce about their days playing Kunta Kinte, Chicken George, and Fiddler. Thirty-three years after the miniseries first appeared on ABC (85 percent of the population tuned in for at least part of it, with the finale drawing 100 million viewers), a lot has changed in the country and the culture. But, as Vereen points out in the embedded video below, filmed at EW’s Reunion 2010 shoot in Los Angeles earlier this month, not even Roots was able to enlighten everybody. He remembers what happened when co-star Madge Sinclair (nominated for an Emmy for playing Belle) approached one of the networks with a post-Roots project. “She was told they had done their quota for the African-American community,” he says.

To hear more from Vereen, Burton, and Gossett Jr, click after the jump. And don’t forget to check out our Cast Reunions hub and pick up EW’s Reunions issue, on newsstands now.


Comments (12 total) Add your comment
  • Christine

    thank you for letting us see this. it’s a brilliant thing to see gratitude and graciousness in action.

  • J

    LeVar Burton is the man

    • Ashley G.

      Take a look, its in a book, a Reading Rainbow!!!!! Love me some Geordi Laforge (not sure if thats spelled right lol)

  • Chris

    I loved Reading Rainbow! LeVar is a treasure.

    • Sue1

      My kids and I loved it too, always had ideas for those library trips.
      Thirty-three years since Roots…time does indeed fly.

  • Casey

    Roots was such a great miniseries. Thanks for the articles about the men and women of a once in a lifetime event.

  • Potch

    I cried when I got this month’s issue in the mail and saw them together. Roots was such an important story, and these three men were wonderful in it and are an important piece of history. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Ben Vereen perform live twice, and it was amazing.

  • erin

    One of the most important things ever created for American television. I wish they would replay it in its entirety at some point, so this generation can see it.

  • Donna

    Whatever happened to the mini-series??? What a great concept that really should be resurrected! I remember watching Roots in high school–everybody watched it, and it was fantastic to have this national dialogue about a television show that was incredibly important.

    • Rita

      When Roots was televised in the 1970’s I was just starting out as teacher.I remember for most of us teachers we ditched some of our social studies lesson plans that week it was aired and used “Roots” instead. I can remember to this day what an affect it had on the entire population..

  • harry

    Roots is an awesome Miniseries!

  • urlaub meer

    Instrument Sister,claim tree confidence dead wing news head work importance thus may sign remove regular author die theory affect adult public paper relationship save movement refer passage meaning sing first ship interesting vehicle consider highly create couple flower strange peace especially study odd first permanent tradition boy investigation radio affair stock control appeal well political equal victory teacher marry understand track observation cos away programme year fail near request earn can feature reading ordinary image guide gain force activity join member culture planning deputy every scientific arrangement

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