"It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have." ~ James Baldwin
"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
P O Box 1752 Paris TX 75461 ~ 903.783.9232 ~ naacp6213@yahoo.com
Meets First Thursday of Each Month at 6:00 PM ~ 121 E Booth

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Alex Haley

"Racism is taught in our society, it is not automatic. It is learned behavior toward persons with dissimilar physical characteristics."

Alex Haley was born August 11, 1921 in Ithaca, New York where his father was attending Cornell University. The family soon returned to their home town of Henning, Tennessee and later lived in various college towns throught the south where the senior Haley taught agriculture.

Although Haley graduated from high school at the age of 15, he was not a particularly good college student and enlisted in the Coast Guard at the age of 18. During World War II he served as a mess attendant and steward while spending spare time writing short stories as well as letters for his fellow sailors. After the war he transferred to the area of journalism and served in that field until he retired as a Chief Petty Officer after 20 years of service.

Haley had been serving in New York City, and he stayed there to pursue a writing career. His first break came in  1962 with the first interview published by Playboy, featuring Miles Davis. His later interviews included Martin Luther King Jr., Jim Brown, Muhammed Ali, Johnny Carson, Melvin Belli, and Quincy Davis.

After two years of interviews Haley published The Autobiography of Malcolm X in 1965, two weeks before the assassination of Malcolm X. The Chronology of Twentieth Century History called  it "a personal witnessing by a black militant of the tenets of universal faith to which he, at least, attributed the potential to resolve the increasingly divisive struggle for civil rights all over the world.."

 Haley is best known for his 1976 work Roots: The Saga of an American Family, based on stories of family history he heard as a child from his maternal grandmother. It traces the family back seven generations to the abduction of Kunta Kente from Gambia in 1767. The book was made into an ABC mini-series, drawing a record 130 million viewers, and sparked a nation-wide interest in genealogy.

Levar Burton as Kunta Kinte
Historians and geneaologists have since disputed Haley's findings, discovering contradictions in both his research through African griots and American records. He was also sued by Harold Courlander, who claimed that Haley copied passagers from Courlander's 1967 novel The AfricanAfter a month-long trial the case was ended with a financial settlement and a statement that "Alex Haley acknowledges and regrets that various materials from The African by Harold Courlander found their way into his book, Roots."

Haley later began a third book, this time based on his father's side of the family. It was posthumously finished by David Stevens and published as Alex Haley's Queen. He died February 10, 1992 in Seattle while on a lecture tour.

No comments:

Post a Comment