Although not as popular or garnering the same sorts of ratings or accolades as its predecessor "Roots", "Roots: The Next Generations", originally billed as "Roots II: The Next Generation", proved to still be a ratings leader when it was first broadcast and garnered its share of awards, but for subject matter that proved in the end, to represent a more painful chapter, history-wise, in the franchise's run.
When one looks at historic dramatizations taking place more than 1 - 2 centuries prior to the present, there is often a sense of fantasy attached to the story and setting, where the early eras had little if any visual or other media documentation outside of written material, artwork, artifacts, and oral history. But in the case of this miniseries, covering a time when visual (photos, film, or television) and audio (radio, records/tapes, television) documentation was available, and for those who are here today having lived through some of those times, it tends to make this depiction more painful, not only in the acknowledged persistence of the injustices, but in reliving them through this venue.
In a nutshell, I think this story hit a little too close to home for many and with the first miniseries having been a shot heard around the world for uncovering and depicting subject matter rarely if ever discussed in such graphic detail, its time period still allowed it to be a remote event for viewers, as if watching something from the dinosaur age. However this sequel miniseries treatment brought the saga right up to near the present day of its original airing (which was 1979), with a final commentary by the author himself at the conclusion, where he urges people to take the time to research their own family histories.
Certainly, the combination of both series, coupled with similar miniseries covering a multitude of ethnic and cultural groups and their trials and tribulations in similar fashion during the time, set off a chain reaction of interest in genealogical searches that is still prevalent today, but that now incorporate DNA testing to trace one's heritage far back in time, often leading to ancestors in other countries.
Having not actually watched this miniseries since its first run in 1979 (although I had taped it in 1992 but didn't have chance to watch it again in its entirety until the past week), it was interesting to revisit it again in full. And in doing so I realize, almost 30 years since I last watched it, how painful it was (and still is) in terms of what it was trying to convey after attempting to fight its way past the glow of its predecessor's uniqueness. As the saying goes - "To every thing, there is a season", and for this miniseries, perhaps now might be its season rather than when it originally aired, with major history still being written (e.g., debates about school busing and affirmative action, etc.) even while it was airing.
In any case, by engaging my emotions so many years later, it certainly rates a perfect 10 in my book.