Roots

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Alex Haley
Full name: Alexander Murray Palmer Haley
Alex Haley was born on August 11, 1921 in Ithaca, New York. He was the oldest son of Simon Alexander Haley and Bertha Palmer Haley. His father was a World War I veteran, and his mother was a teacher. Until he was five years old, he lived in Henning, Tennessee with his grandmother because his father had to finish his studies. Alex was always extremely proud of his father as a young man. Alex Haley graduated from high school at the age of 15 and enrolled at Alcorn A&M College (Alcorn State University) in Mississippi. He focused hard on education, just like his father. In 1939 he quit school, though, to become part of the Coast Guard. He retired from the Coast Guard in 1959, and decided to make writing part of his life. He became a freelance writer. He wrote many articles over the years and got them published, but he got very little pay. Haley can still remember working 16-hours a day for roughly $2,000 a year, surviving on not much but canned sardines. Alex Haley was the author of the Roots phenomenon. He had learned tales of his African ancestor, Kunta Kinte, as a child. Alex was told he was Kunta Kinte’s seventh generation descendant, and after ten years of research he discovered the truth. He went to the village of Juffure, where Kunta Kinte grew up, and listened to the true tales of a tribal historian. Alex said that the most emotional moment of his life was standing at the site in Annapolis, Maryland, where his ancestor stood in chains from Africa more than 200 years ago. Alex Haley also wrote The Autobiography of Malcolm X book. His big breakthrough was in 1962 when he was asked to do an interview with the trumpeter Miles Davis in the Playboy magazine. The interview was so successful that Haley was given a contract to conduct interviews with several other African Americans. Haley interviewed Martin Luther King Jr., Sammy Davis Jr., Quincy Jones, and Malcolm X. After an interview with Malcolm...
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