Alexander Palmer Haley was born on August 11, 1921. He was born in Ithica, New York. He was the oldest of three brothers. He was raised in Henning, Tennessee. He went to college two years before enlisting in the Coast Guard 1939. He always had a sort of passion for reading and, while at sea with the Coast Guard, he began to write short stories. In 1952, Haley was promoted from his "messboy" position in the Coast Guard, to chief journalist. As the chief journalist, he handled the Coast Guard's public relations. After 20 years of military service, Haley retired from the Coast guard in 1952. He began a new career as a freelance writer. He soon became a writer for Reader's digest and later, Playboy where he began the "Playboy Interviews".
One of Haley's most notable interviews was with Malcolm X. The interview inspired Haley, in 1965, to write his very first published book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. The book sold over six million copies.
Haley never knew too much about his family, other than the stories told to him by his grandmother. He decided to travel the world to find his ancestry. After traveling three continents, he traced his family back to a man named Kunta Kinte who was captured and enslaved in The Gambia, West Africa. Haley then lectured and wrote magazine articles about his ancestral findings, all during the 1960's and 1970's.
The book Roots, was published in small pieces in Reader's Digest in 1974 until the complete book was finally published in the fall of 1976 with a large amount of publicity. In January of 1977, ABC decided to make the book into a TV series, starring Lavar Burton and many other popular black actors. The show set the record for the number of viewers. The book became the number one best seller and Haley was everywhere. He was interviewed and his book got great reviews. The book sold in the millions and was a phenomenon.
Because of Roots, everybody wanted to know more about their roots. All over the...