Alex Haley is a great American author who wrote about his own lineage in the epic Roots which became a very popular television miniseries & the subject of great controversy.Here’s more on that from Wikipedia:
“In 1976, Haley published , a novel based loosely on his family’s history, starting with the story of Kunta Kinte, kidnapped in Gambia in 1767 and transported to the Province of Maryland to be sold as a slave. Haley claimed to be a seventh-generation descendant of Kunta Kinte, and Haley’s work on the novel involved ten years of research, intercontinental travel and writing.
He went to the village of Juffure, where Kunta Kinte grew up and which is still in existence, and listened to a tribal historian tell the story of Kinte’s capture. Haley also traced the records of the ship, The Lord Ligonier, which he said carried his ancestor to America. Genealogists have since disputed Haley’s research and conclusions and Haley made an out-of-court settlement with Harold Courlander, who had sued him for plagiarism.
Haley was briefly a “writer in residence” at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. He began to write “Roots” there. Many local people remember Haley fondly. He enjoyed spending time at a local bistro “The Savoy” in Rome New York where he listened to the piano player. Today, there is a special table in honor of Haley with a painting of Alex writing “Roots” on a yellow legal tablet.Haley said the most emotional moment of his life was on September 29, 1967, when he stood at the site in Annapolis, Maryland where his ancestor had arrived 200 years before.
Roots was eventually published in 37 languages and Haley won a Special Award for it in 1977 from the Pulitzer Board. Roots was also made into a popular television miniseries that year. The film reached a record-breaking 130 million viewers when it was serialized on television. Roots emphasized that African Americans have a long history and that not all of that history is lost, as many believed. Its popularity sparked an increased public interest in genealogy, as well.In 1979, ABC aired the sequel miniseries Roots: The Next Generations, which continued the story of Kunta Kinte’s descendants, concluding with Haley’s arrival in Jufureh. Haley was portrayed (at various ages) by future soap opera actor Kristoff St. John, The Jeffersons actor Damon Evans, and Tony Award winner James Earl Jones.
In the late 1980s, Haley began working on a second historical novel based on another branch of his family, traced through his grandmother Queen—the daughter of a black slave woman and her white master. Haley died in Seattle, Washington of a heart attack with the story unfinished and was buried beside his childhood home in Henning, Tennessee. At his request, it was finished by David Stevens and was published as Alex Haley’s Queen; it was subsequently made into a movie in 1993.”(End of Excerpt) Read the rest here.
Although most of his research has been disputed regarding Roots, it seems that there is scientific evidence that supports the research he did for the book Queen.Here’s more on that from the Telegraph:
“The tests have established that Haley – whose work is credited with helping transform the self-image of millions of black Americans – is directly descended from a Scottish paternal bloodline. The findings came after a sample of DNA from Haley’s nephew Chris Haley matched that of his distant cousin June Baff-Black, who lives in Wales and whose shared lineage starts in 17th century Scotland. Until recently, Chris Haley had only word of mouth family history to show that his great, great-grandfather had been born of an African slave mother and white Scottish father, both of whom lived and worked on a slave plantation in the US.
The findings, by the website Ancestry.co.uk, are the first scientific confirmation of Alex Haley’s own research in which he traced his ancestry back to William Baugh (a variation of Baff) – an overseer of an Alabama slave plantation – who was thought to have fathered a child with a female slave, called Sabrina, or “Viney“. Their son, named Alec, is thought to have been born between 1850 and 1860. Alex Haley, who died in 1992, traced this side of his family history in his book Queen, which followed the biographical novel ‘Roots: the Saga of an American Family’.
He was unable to fully prove his research by traditional genealogical methods using birth, marriage and death certificates and parish records, as his ancestors were African-American slaves and so very little documentation about them existed. Since many female slaves were raped by their owners there was frequently no record of the true father. Instead Haley relied on the oral histories handed down from generation to generation as his primary source of ancestral information.”(End of Excerpt)Read the rest here.
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