Thursday, August 11, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 2036


Ithica, New York (JFK+50) Alex Haley, the author of Roots, was born 95 years ago, August 11, 1921, here in Ithica.  Mr. Haley's book was the basis for the 1977 television mini-series of the same name.  The TV version of Roots* drew over 100 million viewers in eight days.

Alex Haley was raised by his grandparents in Heming, Tennessee.  He attended Alcorn State University in Mississippi and Elizabeth City State College in North Carolina.  Alex served in the United States Coast Guard from 1939-1959.

Mr. Haley got his big break in 1962 when Playboy Magazine contracted him to conduct interviews with notable African-Americans including Malcolm X.  His interview with Malcolm X led to the publication of Haley's Autobiography of Malcolm X which became an international best seller.

Alex Haley spent the last 14 years of his life in East Tennessee, a fact commemorated by the Alex Haley Heritage Square** in Knoxville.

Alex Murray Palmer Haley died in Seattle, Washington of a heart attack on February 10, 1992.

*Roots, the television mini-series, aired on ABC January 23-30, 1977.  The series is noted for the 2nd most watched series finale in US television history.The script was co-written by Alex Haley & James Lee.

**Haley Heritage Square is located in Morningside Park, Knoxville, TN.  It is home to a 13 foot bronze statue which was the work of Tina Allen.  The statue, which is the largest of an African-American in the United States, depicts the famous author gazing out on the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. It was dedicated in 1998.


"Biography of Alex Haley," Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center,

"The Legacy of Alex Haley, Now & Forever,"