Alex Palmer Haley (1922-1992)

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Born in Ithaca, New York, to two black parents, no one ever suspected that Alex Haley would become an influential man to the minds of Americans for generations to come. Alex Haley wrote the book ROOTS, a true book on the account of a Black family from back to when they were captured and taken as slaves. The foundation of this book was that of his own family, starting from seven generations up with Kunta Kinte. ROOTS has affected the lives of many and many more to come.

In 1921, Alex Haley was born to Simon Haley and Bertha George Palmer, two educated black teachers. Simon, his dad, taught at many southern colleges and Bertha, his mom, was an elementary school teacher. Since they both were going through graduate school, taking care of Alex was difficult. Therefore they moved to live with his grandmother in Henning, Tennessee. Here his grandmother told him stories of his ancestry and of slave life.

One of Haley's favorite stories was of Kunta Kinte, his great-great-great-great-grandfather, who was born in Africa and was brought to America on a slave ship. He was the first of the Haley family to become a slave.

All throughout secondary schooling, Haley was not a stupendous student and maintained only a C average. He graduated from high school at 15 years old and attended Alcorn A&M. Then he transferred to Elizabeth City State Teachers College. At seventeen years old, he decided to join the United States Coast Guard. While Haley was on the long trips he would write so that he could relieve his boredom. He submitted some of them to journals, but was declined many times. In spite of all of the rejection, Haley persevered. Eventually, some of his writings were published and he became a Coast guard journalist.