- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 13, 2002

ANNAPOLIS For Chris Haley, yesterday was the culmination of a story nearly 230 years in the making, as the third and last phase of the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial was dedicated at the foot of the City Dock here.
About 150 people sweltered during the dedication ceremony along the concrete wall of the dock, where elected leaders unveiled 10 plaques on pedestals telling the story of the late Alex Haley's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "Roots," and his quest to document his family's history from its African origins to present day.
"It is unbelievable that it has grown into an almost national monument, and to think this is based on somebody you knew in your life, your father's brother," said Chris Haley, nephew of Alex Haley, whose Gambian ancestor Kunta Kinte arrived in Annapolis on the slave ship Lord Ligonier on Sept. 29, 1767.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens and Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer also attended the dedication.
"This memorial sends a message of hope and symbolizes the perseverance and faith of a people," said Mr. Glendening.
The state of Maryland contributed a one-time grant of $300,000 for the memorial's construction, and the county donated $200,000 for the five-year, three-part project. Private donations and city funds constituted the remainder of the memorial's $750,000 construction funding.
Haley descendants and members of the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation were warmly greeted by many people, some of whom brought pictures and stories of their own ancestors.
Al Kallay came from Hyattsville to share with Chris Haley a picture of his ancestor, who was a Madingo chief in Africa.
"We could be related," Chris Haley said when he saw the picture.
Not many people want to see a memorial marking the arrival of slaves in America, Chris Haley said, adding that the memorial's location in a capital city highlights the significance of his family's story even its less honorable side.
"People don't really want to admit to slavery," he said. "And yet here is a state capital with a memorial made possible through private and public funds acknowledging slavery and that it actually existed."
For Janice Ropper of Fort Washington, the grueling process of researching a story became more real for her after she watched her 9-year-old daughter toil on a school project about abolitionist Harriet Tubman. She said yesterday's ceremony reminded her of what she has learned about the struggle of African slaves coming to this country and how much Americans take for granted.
"I hope my kids will learn to look at everybody as a person with hopes and dreams and not look at people in terms of race and religion," Mrs. Ropper said. "I think it is important to understand our history."
The first part of the memorial a commemorative bronze plaque and foundation for a subsequent sculpture was built in 1997.
The second part, which was completed in 1999, consists of a sculpture of a seated Alex Haley reading a book to three children.
The Annapolis-based Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation raised funds for the memorial with Leonard Blackshear, who oversaw the project and called the city a symbolic Ellis Island for blacks.
Alex Haley died in 1992.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide