Conservatives should love this series because it shows that despite incredible odds that argued against success, the subjects Gates profiles overcame overwhelming obstacles to achieve something significant. Long before the birth of our entitlement generation, we held these kinds of role models up to young people. The message was, "If they could overcome, so can you." That's what Rice's parents believed. On "Finding Your Roots," Rice said her parents told her that even though she might not have been able to drink a soda at the local Woolworths segregated lunch counter in 1963, she could be president of the United States if she wished.
She came close.
In an age when we change homes and jobs many times during our lifetimes and families are broken up because of divorce and other factors, finding one's roots is an important component to filling in ones family tree.
Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I headed? These are all fundamental questions to which every human being, regardless of race, gender or background, wants answers. Professor Gates provides these answers to the people he profiles, but his programs also encourage viewers to explore their own family histories so they can know more about themselves.
If you missed "Finding Your Roots" or any of Gates' other series, check your local PBS listings for rebroadcast dates or buy the DVD at www.pbs.org/wnet/finding-your-roots. Your purchase will be worth the investment. This is some of the best television you'll ever see. It is also something rare for television today: a program that helps you truly appreciate the value of your own life.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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