August 11th - Happy Birthday Alex Haley!
Alexander Murray Palmer Haley was born on August 11, 1921 in Ithaca, New York. As a young boy, Alex Haley learned of his African ancestor, Kunta Kinte, by listening to the family stories of his maternal grandparents while spending his summers in Henning, Tennessee. According to family history, Kunta Kinte landed with other Gambian Africans in "Naplis" (Annapolis, Maryland) where he was sold into slavery. Alex Haley's quest to learn more about his family history resulted in his writing the Pulitzer Prize winning book Roots. The book has been published in 37 languages, and was made into the first week-long television mini-series, viewed by an estimated 130 million people. Roots also generated widespread interest in genealogy and eventually helped spawn the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation.
Other Haley publications include many well received Playboy interviews (including Martin Luther King, Jr.), his first major book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, A Different Kind of Christmas, a 1990 book about the underground railroad, and Queen, the story of Haley's paternal ancestors. Perhaps one of Alex Haley's greatest gifts was in speaking. He was a fascinating teller of tales. In great demand as a lecturer, both nationally and internationally, he was on a lecture tour in Seattle, Washington when he suffered a heart attack and died in February 1992.