Haley during his tenure in the U.S. Coast Guard
|Born||Alexander Murray Palmer Haley|
August 11, 1921
Ithaca, New York, United States
|Died||February 10, 1992 70) (aged|
Seattle, Washington, United States
|Alma mater|| Alcorn State University |
Elizabeth City State College
|Spouse||Nannie Branch (1941–1964)|
Juliette Collins (1964–1972)
Myra Lewis (1977–1992) (his death)
|Years of service||1939–1959|
Alexander Murray Palmer Haley (August 11, 1921 – February 10, 1992) was an American writer and the author of the 1976 book Roots: The Saga of an American Family. ABC adapted the book as a television miniseries of the same name and aired it in 1977 to a record-breaking audience of 130 million viewers. In the United States, the book and miniseries raised the public awareness of African American history and inspired a broad interest in genealogy and family history.
Roots: The Saga of an American Family is a novel written by Alex Haley and first published in 1976. It tells the story of Kunta Kinte, an 18th-century African, captured as an adolescent, sold into slavery in Africa, transported to North America; following his life and the lives of his descendants in the United States down to Haley. The release of the novel, combined with its hugely popular television adaptation, Roots (1977), led to a cultural sensation in the United States, and it is considered to be one of the most important U.S. works of the 20th century. The novel spent forty-six weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List, including twenty-two weeks at number one. The last seven chapters of the novel were later adapted in the form of a second miniseries, Roots: The Next Generations (1979). It stimulated interest in genealogy and appreciation for African-American history.
The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) is an American commercial broadcast television network that is a flagship property of Disney–ABC Television Group, a subsidiary of the Disney Media Networks division of The Walt Disney Company. The network is headquartered on Columbus Avenue and West 66th Street in Manhattan, New York City. There are additional major offices and production facilities elsewhere in New York City, as well as in Los Angeles and Burbank, California.
Roots is an American television miniseries based on Alex Haley's 1976 novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family. The series first aired on ABC in January 1977. Roots received 37 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and won nine. It also won a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award. It received unprecedented Nielsen ratings for the finale, which still holds a record as the third-highest-rated episode for any type of television series, and the second-most watched overall series finale in U.S. television history. It was produced on a budget of $6.6 million. The series introduced LeVar Burton in the role of Kunta Kinte.
Haley's first book was The Autobiography of Malcolm X , published in 1965, a collaboration through numerous lengthy interviews with the subject, a major African-American leader.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published in 1965, the result of a collaboration between human rights activist Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley. Haley coauthored the autobiography based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm X's 1965 assassination. The Autobiography is a spiritual conversion narrative that outlines Malcolm X's philosophy of black pride, black nationalism, and pan-Africanism. After the leader was killed, Haley wrote the book's epilogue. He described their collaborative process and the events at the end of Malcolm X's life.
Malcolm X (1925–1965) was an American Muslim minister and human rights activist. Some saw him as a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans; others accused him of preaching racism and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.
He was working on a second family history novel at his death. Haley had requested that David Stevens, a screenwriter, complete it; the book was published as Queen: The Story of an American Family. It was adapted as a film, Alex Haley's Queen , released in 1992.
David Stevens was an New Zealand-Australian writer and director, best known for his work on The Sum of Us, A Town Like Alice, and Breaker Morant.
Queen: The Story of an American Family is a 1993 partly factual historical novel by Alex Haley and David Stevens.
Alex Haley's Queen is a 1993 American television miniseries that aired in three installments on February 14, 16, and 18 on CBS. The miniseries is an adaptation of the novel Queen: The Story of an American Family, by Alex Haley and David Stevens. The novel is based on the life of Queen Jackson Haley, Haley's paternal grandmother. Alex Haley died in February 1992 before completing the novel. It was later finished by David Stevens and published in 1993. Stevens also wrote the screenplay for the miniseries.
Alex Haley was born in Ithaca, New York, on August 11, 1921, and was the oldest of three brothers (the other two being George and Julius) and a half-sister (from his father's second marriage). Haley lived with his family in Henning, Tennessee, before returning to Ithaca with his family when he was five years old. Haley's father was Simon Haley, a professor of agriculture at Alabama A&M University, and his mother was Bertha George Haley (née Palmer), who had grown up in Henning. The family had African American, Mandinka, Cherokee, Scottish, and Scottish-Irish roots.The younger Haley always spoke proudly of his father and the obstacles of racism he had overcome.
Ithaca is a city in the Finger Lakes region of New York. It is the seat of Tompkins County, as well as the largest community in the Ithaca–Tompkins County metropolitan area. This area contains the municipalities of the Town of Ithaca, the village of Cayuga Heights, and other towns and villages in Tompkins County. The city of Ithaca is located on the southern shore of Cayuga Lake, in Central New York, about 45 miles (72 km) south-west-west of Syracuse. It is named for the Greek island of Ithaca.
George Williford Boyce Haley was an American attorney, diplomat and policy expert having served under seven presidential administrations. He was one of two younger brothers to the Pulitzer Prize winner Alex Haley.
Henning is a town in Lauderdale County, Tennessee. The population was 945 at the 2010 census.
Like his father, Alex Haley was enrolled at age 15 in Alcorn State University, a historically black college in Mississippi and, a year later, enrolled at Elizabeth City State College, also historically black, in North Carolina. The following year he returned to his father and stepmother to tell them he had withdrawn from college. His father felt that Alex needed discipline and growth, and convinced him to enlist in the military when he turned 18. On May 24, 1939, Alex Haley began what became a 20-year career in the United States Coast Guard.
Alcorn State University is a public, historically black, comprehensive, land-grant institution located northwest of Lorman, Mississippi in rural Claiborne County. It was founded in 1871 by the Reconstruction-era legislature to provide higher education for freedmen. It is the first black land grant college established in the United States. Its main campus is approximately 80 miles southwest of Jackson, Mississippi.
Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) is a public, historically black college located in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. ECSU, which enrolls nearly 2,500 students in 37 baccalaureate programs and three master's degree programs, is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, as well as a member-institution of the University of North Carolina system.
North Carolina is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west, Virginia to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. North Carolina is the 28th most extensive and the 9th most populous of the U.S. states. The state is divided into 100 counties. The capital is Raleigh, which along with Durham and Chapel Hill is home to the largest research park in the United States. The most populous municipality is Charlotte, which is the second largest banking center in the United States after New York City.
Haley traced back his maternal ancestry, through genealogical research, to Jufureh.
Jufureh, Juffureh or Juffure is a town in the Gambia, 30 kilometers inland on the north bank of the River Gambia in the North Bank Division near James Island. The town is home to a museum and Fort Jillifree.
Haley enlisted as a mess attendant. Later he was promoted to the rate of petty officer third-class in the rating of steward, one of the few ratings open to African Americans at that time.It was during his service in the Pacific theater of operations that Haley taught himself the craft of writing stories. During his enlistment other sailors often paid him to write love letters to their girlfriends. He said that the greatest enemy he and his crew faced during their long voyages was not the Japanese forces but rather boredom.
After World War II, Haley petitioned the U.S. Coast Guard to allow him to transfer into the field of journalism. By 1949 he had become a petty officer first-class in the rating of journalist. He later advanced to chief petty officer and held this rank until his retirement from the Coast Guard in 1959. He was the first chief journalist in the Coast Guard, the rating having been expressly created for him in recognition of his literary ability.
Haley's awards and decorations from the Coast Guard include the Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal (with 1 silver and 1 bronze service star), American Defense Service Medal (with "Sea" clasp), American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Korean Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, and the Coast Guard Expert Marksmanship Medal.Further, the Republic of Korea awarded him the War Service Medal 10 years after he died.
After retiring from the U.S. Coast Guard, Haley began another phase of his journalism career. He eventually became a senior editor for Reader's Digest magazine. Haley wrote an article for the magazine about his brother George's struggles to succeed as one of the first African-American students at a Southern law school.
Haley conducted the first interview for Playboy magazine. Haley elicited candid comments from jazz musician Miles Davis about his thoughts and feelings on racism in an interview he had started, but not finished, for Show Business Illustrated, another magazine created by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner that folded in early 1962. Haley completed the interview and it appeared in Playboy's September 1962 issue.That interview set the tone for what became a significant feature of the magazine. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Playboy Interview with Haley was the longest he ever granted to any publication.
Throughout the 1960s Haley was responsible for some of the magazine's most notable interviews, including one with George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party. He agreed to meet with Haley only after gaining assurance from the writer that he was not Jewish. Haley remained professional during the interview, although Rockwell kept a handgun on the table throughout it. (The interview was recreated in Roots: The Next Generations , with James Earl Jones as Haley and Marlon Brando as Rockwell.)Haley also interviewed Muhammad Ali, who spoke about changing his name from Cassius Clay. Other interviews include Jack Ruby's defense attorney Melvin Belli, entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr., football player Jim Brown, TV host Johnny Carson, and music producer Quincy Jones.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X , published in 1965, was Haley's first book. X's life from street criminal to national spokesman for the Nation of Islam to his conversion to Sunni Islam. It also outlines Malcolm X's philosophy of black pride, black nationalism, and pan-Africanism. Haley wrote an epilogue to the book summarizing the end of Malcolm X's life, including his assassination in New York's Audubon Ballroom.It describes the trajectory of Malcolm
Haley ghostwrote The Autobiography of Malcolm X based on more than 50 in-depth interviews he conducted with Malcolm X between 1963 and Malcolm X's February 1965 assassination. The two men had first met in 1960 when Haley wrote an article about the Nation of Islam for Reader's Digest. They met again when Haley interviewed Malcolm X for Playboy.
The first interviews for the autobiography frustrated Haley. Rather than discussing his own life, Malcolm X spoke about Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam; he became angry about Haley's reminders that the book was supposed to be about Malcolm X. After several meetings, Haley asked Malcolm X to tell him something about his mother. That question drew Malcolm X into recounting his life story.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X has been a consistent best-seller since its 1965 publication. The New York Times reported that six million copies of the book had sold by 1977. In 1998 TIME magazine ranked The Autobiography of Malcolm X as one of the 10 most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century.
In 1966 Haley received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
In 1973 Haley wrote his only screenplay, Super Fly T.N.T. . The film starred and was directed by Ron O'Neal.
In 1976 Haley published Roots: The Saga of an American Family , a novel based on his family's history, going back to slavery days. It started with the story of Kunta Kinte, who was kidnapped in the Gambia in 1767 and transported to the Province of Maryland to be sold as a slave. Haley claimed to be a seventh-generation descendant of Kunta Kinte, and his work on the novel involved twelve years of research, intercontinental travel, and writing. He went to the village of Juffure, where Kunta Kinte grew up and listened to a tribal historian (griot) tell the story of Kinte's capture.Haley also traced the records of the ship, The Lord Ligonier , which he said carried his ancestor to the Americas.
Haley has stated that the most emotional moment of his life occurred on September 29, 1967, when he stood at the site in Annapolis, Maryland, where his ancestor had arrived from Africa in chains exactly 200 years before. A memorial depicting Haley reading a story to young children gathered at his feet has since been erected in the center of Annapolis.
Roots was eventually published in 37 languages. Haley won a special Pulitzer Prize for the work in 1977.The same year, Roots was adapted as a popular television miniseries of the same name by ABC. The serial reached a record-breaking 130 million viewers. Roots emphasized that African Americans have a long history and that not all of that history is necessarily lost, as many believed. Its popularity also sparked a greatly increased public interest in genealogy.
In 1979 ABC aired the sequel miniseries, Roots: The Next Generations , which continued the story of Kunta Kinte's descendants. It concluded with Haley's travel to Juffure. Haley was portrayed at different ages by Kristoff St. John, The Jeffersons actor Damon Evans, and Tony Award winner James Earl Jones. In 2016, History aired a remake of the original miniseries. Haley appeared briefly, portrayed by Tony Award winner Laurence Fishburne.
Haley was briefly a "writer in residence" at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, where he began work on Roots. He enjoyed spending time at a local bistro called the Savoy in nearby Rome, where he would sometimes pass the time listening to the piano player. Today, there is a special table in honor of Haley at the Savoy, and a painting of Haley writing Roots on a yellow legal tablet.
Roots faced two lawsuits that charged plagiarism and copyright infringement. The lawsuit brought by Margaret Walker was dismissed, but Harold Courlander's suit was successful. Courlander's novel The African describes an African boy who is captured by slave traders, follows him across the Atlantic on a slave ship, and describes his attempts to hold on to his African traditions on a plantation in America. Haley admitted that some passages from The African had made it into Roots, settling the case out of court in 1978 and paying Courlander $650,000.
Genealogists have also disputed Haley's research and conclusions in Roots. The Gambian griot turned out not to be a real griot, and the story of Kunta Kinte appears to have been a case of circular reporting, in which Haley's own words were repeated back to him.None of the written records in Virginia and North Carolina line up with the Roots story until after the Civil War. Some elements of Haley's family story can be found in the written records, but the most likely genealogy would be different from the one described in Roots.
Haley and his work have been excluded from the Norton Anthology of African-American Literature, despite his status as the United States' best-selling African-American author. Harvard University professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of the anthology's general editors, has denied that the controversies surrounding Haley's works are the reason for this exclusion. In 1998 Dr. Gates acknowledged the doubts surrounding Haley's claims about Roots, saying, "Most of us feel it's highly unlikely that Alex actually found the village whence his ancestors sprang. Roots is a work of the imagination rather than strict historical scholarship."
Early in the 1980s Haley worked with the Walt Disney Company to develop an Equatorial Africa pavilion for its Epcot Center theme park. Haley appeared on a CBS broadcast of Epcot Center's opening day celebration, discussing the plans and exhibiting concept art with host Danny Kaye. Ultimately, the pavilion was not built due to political and financial issues.
Late in the 1970s Haley had begun working on a second historical novel based on another branch of his family, traced through his grandmother Queen; she was the daughter of a black slave woman and her white master. He did not finish the novel before dying in Seattle, Washington, of a heart attack. He was buried beside his childhood home in Henning, Tennessee. At his request, the novel was finished by David Stevens and was published as Alex Haley's Queen . It was subsequently adapted as a movie of the same name in 1993.
Late in Haley's life he had acquired a small farm in Clinton, Tennessee, although at the time it had a Norris, Tennessee address. The Farm is a few miles from the Museum of Appalachia, and Haley lived there until his death. After his death the property was sold to the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), which calls it the Alex Haley Farm. The nonprofit organization uses the farm as a national training center and retreat site. An abandoned barn on the farm property was rebuilt as a traditional cantilevered barn, using a design by architect Maya Lin. The building now serves as a library for the CDF.
The University of Tennessee Libraries, in Knoxville, Tennessee, maintains a collection of Alex Haley's personal works in its Special Collections Department. The works contain notes, outlines, bibliographies, research, and legal papers documenting Haley's Roots through 1977. Of particular interest are the items showing Harold Courlander's lawsuit against Haley, Doubleday & Company, and various affiliated groups.Portions of Alex Haley's personal collection is also located at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center's Special Collections and Archives in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Levardis Robert Martyn "LeVar" Burton Jr. is an American actor, presenter, director and author. He is best known for his roles as the host of the long-running PBS children's series Reading Rainbow, Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the young Kunta Kinte in the 1977 award-winning ABC television miniseries Roots. He has also directed a number of television episodes for various iterations of Star Trek, among other programs.
Malcolm X, sometimes stylized as X, is a 1992 American epic biographical drama film about the Afro-American activist Malcolm X. Directed and co-written by Spike Lee, the film stars Denzel Washington in the title role, as well as Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman Jr., and Delroy Lindo. Lee has a supporting role, while Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and future South Africa president Nelson Mandela make cameo appearances. This is the second of four film collaborations between Washington and Lee.
A griot, jali, or jeli is a West African historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet, or musician. The griot is a repository of oral tradition and is often seen as a leader due to his or her position as an advisor to royal personages. As a result of the former of these two functions, they are sometimes called a bard.
Kunta Kinteh Island, formerly called James Island and St Andrew's Island, is an island in the Gambia River, 30 km from the river mouth and near Juffureh in the country of the Gambia. Fort James is located on the island. It is less than 3.2 km from Albreda on the river's northern bank.
Kunta Kinte is a character in the novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family by American author Alex Haley. Haley claimed that Kunta Kinte was based on one of his ancestors: a Gambian man who was born in 1750, enslaved and taken to America and who died in 1822. Haley said that his account of Kunta's life in Roots was a mixture of fact and fiction. The extent to which Kunta Kinte is based on fact is disputed.
The USCGC Alex Haley (WMEC-39) is a United States Coast Guard Cutter and former U.S. Navy vessel that was recommissioned for Coast Guard duty on 10 July 1999. It was first commissioned as the USS Edenton (ATS-1), an Edenton-class salvage and rescue ship on 23 January 1971. In 1995, Edenton won the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award for the Atlantic Fleet.
Albreda is a historic settlement in the Gambia on the north bank of the Gambia River, variously described as a 'trading post' or a 'slave fort'. It is located near Jufureh in the North Bank Division and an arch stands on the beach connecting the two places. As of 2008, it has an estimated population of 1,776.
Harold Courlander was an American novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist and an expert in the study of Haitian life. The author of 35 books and plays and numerous scholarly articles, Courlander specialized in the study of African, Caribbean, Afro-American, and Native American cultures. He took a special interest in oral literature, cults, and Afro-American cultural connections with Africa.
Georg Stanford Brown is a Cuban-American actor and director, perhaps best known as one of the stars of the ABC police television series The Rookies from 1972–76. On the show, Brown played the character of Officer Terry Webster.
Roots: The Next Generations is an American television miniseries, introduced in 1979, continuing, from 1882 to the 1960s, the fictionalized story of the family of Alex Haley and their life in Henning, Lauderdale County, Tennessee, USA. This sequel to the 1977 miniseries is based on the last seven chapters of Haley's novel entitled Roots: The Saga of an American Family plus additional material by Haley.
Roots: The Gift is a 1988 television film. It is the third installment of the Roots series, which traces the maternal family history of African American author Alex Haley, starting with his fourth great-grandfather Kunta Kinte. The film premiered on ABC on December 11, 1988, with AT&T as the sole national sponsor for the broadcast. LeVar Burton and Louis Gossett Jr. reprise their respective roles of Kunta Kinte and Fiddler. The film takes place between the second and third episodes of the original Roots miniseries.
Tina Yvonne Andrews is an American actress, television producer, screenwriter, author and playwright. She is known for writing the TV mini-series, Sally Hemings: An American Scandal (2000), which was the first time that the Jefferson-Hemings relationship had been explored on TV, and with Hemings portrayed as a fully realized woman. In 2001, Andrews was the first African American to win the Writers Guild of America award for Original Long Form, for her script for this mini-series. Andrews had earlier explored her interest in Hemings with a play, The Mistress of Monticello, which was read at a workshop in Chicago in 1985.
The Lord Ligonier was an 18th-century British slave ship built in New England that unloaded slaves in Annapolis, Maryland in 1767. The ship was made famous by Alex Haley's novel, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, in which it brought his ancestor, Kunta Kinte, from The Gambia to the colonial United States.
Roots is a 2016 American miniseries and a remake of the 1977 miniseries with the same name, based on Alex Haley's 1976 novel, Roots: The Saga of an American Family. It first aired on May 30, 2016 and stars Malachi Kirby, Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anika Noni Rose, T.I. and South African actress Nokuthula Ledwaba. It was produced on a budget of $50 million.
The African is a 1967 novel by Harold Courlander.
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