ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Remembering his 100th birthday, Maryland’s capital city gave honors this weekend to the late author Alex Haley and his extended family, citing his research that led to a greater understanding by all Americans about slavery’s legacy.
Haley’s family received keys to the city of Annapolis in a gathering Saturday, the Capital Gazette reported.
As the writer of “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” an award-winning book and television series in the 1970s, Haley completed genealogical research that led him to discover he was a descendant of Kunta Kinte, a man kidnapped in Africa, enslaved and sold at City Dock in Annapolis.
Haley died in 1992 and would have turned 100 on Aug. 11. Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley proclaimed Aug. 11 as Alex Haley Day in the city.
“Alex Haley’s ties to Annapolis are rooted in the most barbaric chapter of the American story. It was a story that needed to be told, and he was the one to tell it,” Buckley said.
A memorial built at City Dock after Haley’s death includes a sculpture of Haley and three children listening to him. A marker to indicate the dock’s history as a port in the slave trade will be erected in a couple of months, local historian Janice Hayes-Williams said.
Chris Haley, Haley’s nephew, is research director for the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland at the Maryland State Archives. He said his uncle emphasized the value of family and heritage.
“In his interactions with the loftiest of public officials or the meekest of private figures, he hoped and sought to get at the truth,” Chris Haley said.