TOP SELLING AFRICAN AMERICAN AUTHOR! ALEX HALEY! BLACK LIVES REALLY DO MATTER!
Updated: Jun 26
TOP SELLING AFRICAN AMERICAN AUTHOR! ALEX HALEY!
BLACK LIVES REALLY DO MATTER!
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT KUNTA KINTE?
DO YOU REMEMBER ANYTHING AT ALL ABOUT THE 1977 TV MINISERIES, “ROOTS”?
ROOTS is an American television miniseries based on the 1976 novel ROOTS: THE SAGA OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY written by the African American author ALEX HALEY.
The series first aired on ABC in January of 1977. The show received 37 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and won nine. It also won a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award. It received an unprecedented Nielson ratings for the finale, which still holds a record for 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.
A sequel, ROOTS: THE NEXT GENERATIONS, first aired in 1979, and a second sequel ,ROOTS: THE GIFT, a Christmas TV movie , first aired in 1988.
In 2016, a remake of the original miniseries, with the same name, was commissioned by the History channel and screened by the channel on Memorial Day.
As the story goes, in Gambia, West Africa, in 1750, Kunta Kinte is born to Omoto Kinte, a Mandinka warrior and his wife, Binta. He was raised in a Muslim family. When Kunta reaches the age of 15, he and other adolescent boys undertake a semi-secretive tribal rite of passage, under the kintango, which includes wrestling, circumcision, philosophy, war-craft and hunting skills. While attempting to capture a bird unharmed, Kunta crosses paths with a small party of European slave hunters, is captured then sold to a slave trader and is placed aboard a slave ship for a three month journey to Colonial America.
The ship eventually arrives in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1767 where the captured Africans are sold at auction as slaves. A plantation owner from Spotsylvania County, Virginia near Fredericksburg, buys Kunta and gives him the Christian name of Toby. The owner assigns an older slave to teach him English and train him in the ways of servitude. And so begins a vain attempt to preserve his Islam and Mandinka heritage and also many vain attempts of escape.
And so begins this fascinating story written by Alex Haley. And thus begins a new awareness of man’s inhumanity to the black man. A very poignant story of a culture of slavery which goes back to Colonial America and lasts until the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865 and even into our present day as we see the many acts of violence and protests in cities throughout our United States of America, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
(Retrieved from “https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index/php?title=Roots(1977 miniseries).
See also Roots (https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/roots) at the interviews:An Oral History of Television)
Now, let’s get better acquainted with Alex Haley!
Alexander Murray Palmer Haley was born August 11, 1921 in Ithaca, New York and died at age 70 in Seattle, Washington, February 10, 1992.
Alex was an American writer and author of the 1976 book ROOTS: THE SAGA OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY. The book was adapted into a very popular TV miniseries of the same name and was viewed by a record-breaking audience of 130 million viewers. In the United States, the book and mini-series raised the public awareness of Black American history and inspired a broad interest genealogy and family history.
Haley’s first book was THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X, published in 1965 as a collaboration of a number of lengthy interviews with Malcolm X.
At the time of his death, he was working on a second family history novel. Haley had instructed that David Stevens, a screenwriter finish the book. The book was published as QUEEN: THE STORY OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY. It was adapted as a miniseries, ALEX HALEY’S QUEEN, broadcast in 1993.
EARLY LIFE, EDUCATION AND MILITARY CAREER
Alex was born in Ithaca, New York and was the oldest of three brothers, the brothers being George and Julius, and a half sister from his father’s second marriage. Alex lived with his family in Henning, Tennessee , before returning to Ithaca when he was five years old. His father was Simon Haley, a professor of agriculture at Alabama A&M University, and his mother was Bertha George Haley (Palmer) who had grown up in Henning. The family had African, Mandinka, Cherokee, Scottish and Scottish-Irish roots. Alex always spoke proudly of his father and the obstacles he had overcome.
At age 15, Alex enrolled at Alcorn State College, an historically black college in Mississippi and a year later enrolled at Elizabeth City State College also historically black, in North Carolina. A year later he returned home to inform his father and step mother that he had withdrawn from school. His father felt that he needed discipline and growth and encouraged him to consider the military. At age 18, on May 24, 1939, Alex began a twenty-year career in the United States Coast Guard.
LIFE IN THE COAST GUARD FOR TWENTY YEARS!
His Coast Guard life began as a mess attendant. Followed by a promotion to the rank of petty officer third-class with the rating of steward. During his experience in the Pacific theater operations that Alex taught himself the craft of writing stories. He was often asked by other men to write love letters to their girl-friends. He often said that the greatest enemy they all faced was not the Japanese but rather boredom.
After World War II Alex 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 with the rating of journalist. He later advanced to chief petty officer and held this rank until he retired. He became the first chief journalist in the Coast Guard, the rank and rating was created for him in recognition of his literary ability.
Alex received many awards and decorations from the Coast Guard which included the Good Conduct Medal, (with 1 silver and 1 bronze service star), American Defense 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. Ten years after his death, the Republic of Korea awarded him the War Service Medal.
HIS CAREER AS A JOURNALIST AND WRITER
As his career in the Coast Guard ended, he eventually became a senior editor for READER’S DIGEST magazine. Alex wrote an article for the magazine about his brother George’s struggles to succeed as one of the first black student students at a Southern law school.
OTHER NOTABLE LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
Alex became associated with PLAYBOY magazine in the 1960’s and interviewed the jazz musician Miles Davis about his thoughts and feelings on racism. It was published in the September 1962 issue of the magazine. This interview set the tone for an interview with Rev. Martin Luther King, which is said to be the longest interview Dr. King ever granted to any publication.
Alex was responsible for many notable interviews for PLAYBOY magazine. One of great significance was an interview with George Lincoln Rockwell, the leader of the American Nazi Party. He agreed to meet with Alex after Alex assured him that he was not Jewish. Alex remained professional during the interview but Rockwell kept a gun on the table throughout the interview. Other interviews were with Muhammad Ali, who spoke about changing his name from Cassius Clay. He also interviewed Jack Ruby’s defense attorney Melvin Belli, entertainer Sammy Davis Jr., football player Jim Brown, TV host Johnny Carson, and music producer, Quincy Jones.
ALEX HALEY’S WORKS:
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X, 1965
SUPER FLY T.N.T, 1973. SCREENPLAY
ROOTS: THE SAGA OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY, 1976
ALEX HALEY TELLS THE STORY OF HIS SEARCH FOR ROOTS 1977
A DIFFERENT KIND OF CHRISTMAS, 1988
ALEX HALEY’S QUEEN: THE STORY OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY 1992
ALEX HALEY: THE PLAYBOY INTERVIEWS, 1993
NEVER TURN BACK, FATHER SERRA’S MISSION (STORIES OF AMERICA, 1993
MAMA FLORA’S FAMILY, 1998
ALEX HALEY’S PERSONAL COLLECTION
The university of Tennessee Libraries in Knoxville, Tennessee, maintains a collection of Alex Haley’s works in its Special Collections Department. These works contain notes, outlines, bibliographies, research, and legal papers documenting Alex Haley’s ROOTS through 1977.
Other 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, Florida.
Alex Haley House and Museum.
Alex Haley Roots Foundation (http://www.alexhaley.com)
The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation (http://kintehaley.org)
Official Roots:30th Anniversary Edition website (http://rootsthebook.com)
Information retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/windex.php?title=Alex_Haley&oldid=963046404
In 1960, this author took a long train ride as a missionary to Atlanta, Georgia to serve in the Southern States Mission. We left Salt Lake City, Utah and traveled by the “Denver and Rio Grand Railroad (the D&RG, or dirty, ragged & greasy) as it was nicknamed. We traveled through the Royal Gorge in Colorado and then on to St. Louis, Missouri where we changed trains and took the “Burlington Northern into Atlanta. We were served along the way by black porters, dining car servers and other personnel, which, at that time, were black men, very polite, proper, and accommodating. We appreciated their excellent service.
After being greeted by senior elders from the mission home, we met the mission president and his wife and other staff, fed a home made lunch, probably prepared by black ladies who were the domestic staff. We were then interviewed by the president, said goodbye to our travelling companions and were given our personal assignments.
For me, the assignment involved a long bus ride from Atlanta, Georgia to Plant City, Florida where I met Elder Warren Rigby from Cedar City, Utah. Fortunately, Elder Rigby had his own car to cover the extensive country territory of our assigned area. Along the way, the thing I noticed were “white” or “colored” drinking fountains, restrooms and dining areas. I had never seen anything like this before.
During my time in Florida, we did not venture into the black neighborhoods and unless they were hired help, the black people did not venture into white neighborhoods. We did not proselyte or teach black people.
This has now changed considerably since those memorable and unfortunate times.
The great publication, ROOTS, by this great author advanced the recognition of black people significantly from mere indentured servants to valuable citizens of our society
My only experience with a black man was when I was called as a Young Single Adult Bishop (Pastor) and had a young man from Ghana, Africa in my congregation. He was a delightful young man with a beautiful smile and beautiful white teeth. As I came to know him better, I came to love him. He came to Utah to attend L.D.S. Business College. Later, my wife and I volunteered as Student Success Mentors where we met many more black people.
Education and a desire to succeed is the secret of success for the advancement of the black person. More people have “freed” themselves through education.
EDUCATION, INCLUDING LEARNING TO READ IS VERY LIBERATING!
We hope you have enjoyed this article. Even the rambling, but it was a first hand experience which left a great impression on me!
We hope you will join us next time when we discover another outstanding black American author!
Until then, we are ENCOURAGING LITERACY, LEARNING AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT!
We also invite you to visit the link at top of the page for LEARN OUT LOUD for an audio book from our featured author.