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What The Public Have Mentioned About Alex Haley
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Celebrity And Executive Testimonials About Alex Haley
Ben Vereen "I didn't know who Chicken George was, but I was so happy to be a part of Roots because of the importance of the piece. You've got to understand something. In our country, in America, our history, African American history—at least when I was coming up—was not taught. Alex Haley's story and mine were a mystery." - Actor who portrayed Chicken George in Roots.
Sandy Duncan "I felt very privileged to be part of Roots. In the miniseries, we were all actors who saw very clearly what they were trying to tell in this story. I think everyone was of the same mind, to bring all of that to light in a very real and personal and graphic way to the American public, people that sometimes tend not to want to look at the truth. And so Roots was an attempt to make people responsible for humankind." - Actress who portrayed Missy Anne Reynolds in Roots.
LeVar Burton "The country watched Roots together and then we talked about it the next day in schools, at work, in the shopping malls. That's unlikely to happen today. We don't live in the same world that we did in 1977. It was a phenomenal role for any actor to be handed. What was going through my mind was getting it right. I had no thought or expectation of what it would lead to. For white Americans, Roots was a history lesson they'd never been taught. Roots pushed everyone's buttons. You couldn't be a part of that viewing audience and not be introspective. Roots was part of an emergence of a new consciousness in this country. In terms of what our common and shared history is around this very central issue of race, which, in my opinion, is the most powerful issue that exists in this country and in this culture." - Actor, Producer and Director who portrayed Kunta Kinte in Roots.
David L. Wolper "The cast and crew realized they were working on something very special after filming began." (Talking about the impact of the scene where the Africans lay side by side, chained to the slave ship), Wolper said, "It was so strong that the extras we had could not come back the second day to do it. In other words, they were so moved and overwhelmed by the experience that they actually couldn't repeat it." - Oscar, Emmy, Peabody, Golden Globes Award Winner and Executive Producer of Roots.
Quincy Jones "One of the most moving and rewarding projects of my career was working on Roots, the landmark 1977 miniseries based on my friend Alex Haley's novel. Roots touched me deeply because it's the story of my ancestors. In fact, one night while I was working on the score, my wife at the time, Peggy Lipton, caught me weeping at my Rhodes piano. It was a heavy project that also touched upon the Roots of our music." - Music producer who composed film score (background music) for Roots.
Halle Berry "I remember a sense of pride after seeing the movie. It created lots of conversation and a lot of disturbing feelings. But at the same time, I felt a sense of relief because our story, our history, was being told and getting a lot of attention." - Oscar-winning actress who portrayed Queen in Alex Haley's Queen.
B.B. King "I think it made Americans, black and white, look at ourselves differently. It made us think differently. And I believe if a lot of the kids could see it today, they would see themselves differently, think more of themselves than doing bad things to their own people." - Blues entertainer.
Robert L. Johnson "If Roots did anything, it made you recognize that if you were ever going to achieve anything as a black man, you couldn't look for the government to be your ultimate salvation. You've got to do it yourself. You've got to take control of your own destiny because that's what black folks have had to do all their lives." - Entrepreneur and the nation's first African American billionaire.
Vernon Jordan "Roots was a bruising reminder of our history and our past, and it was a bruising reminder of man's inhumanity to other men. The message of Roots is one of survival and endurance." - Senior managing director, Lazard Fréres & Co.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. "Well, along with the rest of the country, I watched every episode of Roots. As a scholar, it wasn't that I was learning new information, because I'd certainly studied the history of slavery from Africa to the Americas. But what was exciting about it, first of all, was that it visibly brought this history to life through memorable characters who were tied in some way to Alex Haley himself. The second thing that was interesting, of course, was that Alex claimed he was able to go back and find the village from which his ancestor came. And the third thing, which I found completely, totally amazing, was that the whole country was riveted by this tale of slavery. More Americans found out about the history of slavery in a week than in all the time since slavery ended! That was quite something, and it meant that the stories of African Americans, if told in a riveting way, could reach a broad audience, and I think that inspired many people." - Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard.
Johnathan Rodgers "Roots was landmark television for all of American society, but especially for African Americans, for we had never before seen our story on television, and rarely even seen ourselves portrayed as multi-dimensional individuals. While a lot has changed in 30 years, Roots continues to be powerful television and an important lesson in our country's history. We are delighted to bring it back to viewers who remember it as children and young adults, as well as introduce this groundbreaking saga to a whole new generation of viewers of all ethnicities." - TV One President and CEO.
President George H. W. Bush "Barbara and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family of Alex Haley upon his passing. Alex Haley was an extraordinary individual and a literary giant who served his country for 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard.
"He went on to produce many works, including the Autobiography of Malcolm X and Roots. Roots in particular has been woven into the cultural patchwork that is America. Haley's own roots, nourished in the small town values of Henning, Tennessee, were central to his writings and his life. He taught us that every community needs to strengthen and renew itself. I am particularly grateful for the encouragement that he continued to provide to thousands of Americans who work to make their communities places where education is nourished. Alex Haley understood that it was important to know where you come from—so that you could set a course for where you want to go. He will be an inspiration for generations to come. His talent and spirit will be greatly missed." - Statement on the Death of Alex Haley February 10, 1992.
Public Testimonials About Alex Haley And His Authored Works
Truly A Great Author: "I enjoyed reading the autobiography of Malcolm X that Alex Haley authored as well as Roots And Queen. Mr. Haley is truly a great author. The movie Roots was so inspirational, moving, and overwhelming. It surprises me to know that many of our people did not know and yet still don't know what we went through. If it weren't for the movie Roots, even more would be lost and confused. It opened up the eyes of many. You are missed." - Saint Louis, Missouri.
Roots Was Black History: "When I was growing up in the 1970's, Roots Was Black History. The movie and the book Roots taught African Americans about the history of slavery and gave us insight into how it still affected us. In addition to Roots: The Saga of an American Family, Alex Haley wrote The Autobiography of Malcolm X (with Malcolm X as a collaborator), Queen: The Story of an American Family (completed by David Stevens after Haley's death), and several other books as well." - Lawrenceville, Georgia.
Forever Remembered: "Alex Haley will be forever remembered as contributing one of the most important works of nonfiction pertaining to the African-American journey in America. Not only did Alex Haley produce an eloquent novel - awakening the truth about slavery in America, he also gave more insight on the complexities of the African-American struggle to survive in a most hostile time and place. 'Either you deal with what is the reality, or you can be sure that the reality is going to deal with you.' This statement gives insight on our human frailty, a condition that has an affect on everything we participate in." - Longs, South Carolina.
Spark Began With Roots: "The series Roots seemed to unlock the keen interest my family had to find out more about lost generations, family rumors and the history that preceded us—the trek from Russia to the U.S. We found out about the family lost in the Holocaust, the occupations of great-grandparents, the fact that my grandmother actually worked for a governor [Thomas R. Marshall] who became vice president under Woodrow Wilson. The spark began with Roots." - Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Roots: "I recently finished Roots by Alex Haley, as read by Avery Brooks. This was a disturbing yet engrossing story, brought to life by Avery Brooks. Mr. Brooks, through his superb reading, brought these characters to life. I was thoroughly absorbed in this book, from start to finish, and it made me very emotional to think that this was an accurate depiction of this time in our nation's history. Mr. Brooks, you did an excellent job with an excellent book. My only request - Read more books, please!" - Portland, Maine.
Oral History: "Oral tradition of stories passed from one generation to the next is the main element to which this book owes its existence. Kunta Kinte 'the African' as he is often referred to in the book, was a man who refused to give up his 'roots'. He continued his religious and customary practices such as the naming of his child, his ways of counting his age. Despite the threat posed, he was unperturbed. He was most concerned that the generations to follow must know their 'roots', of their origin. Therefore his efforts in passing down the story of his 'roots' to his daughter Kizzy who then passed it onto her child and so on. The book charts the lives of the seven generations who ultimately attain their freedom. He does not hesitate to say that the world of a promised 'freedom' is not a perfect one. They had to still fight for their living even if they were now free." - Imphal, India.
Love And Understanding: "I enjoy watching Roots because it makes me feel like my people have come a long way and are still struggling to be equal. It scares me to know that there are still people out there who hate because of the color of your skin and your beliefs. I pray that one day we will see that the only thing that will bring the people of color and difference together is love and understanding of one's ways and lifestyles." - Dallas, Texas.
Grateful To Alex Haley: "The program Roots has affected my life tremendously. My father died when I was 9 years old, and I did not have much contact with his side of the family. After viewing the program, I attended a family reunion on my dad's side of the family and started to learn more about my family. With the help of other family members, I have traced my family 'roots' back to my great-grandfather, who was a slave. Roots has affected my whole family, and I will always be grateful to Alex Haley and all the persons responsible for its showing." - Lexington Park, Maryland.
Classic Novel: "When I began to read Roots, I never realized what a mammoth novel it was in terms of content and history. It is a very disturbing account of what a man can do to his own kind and also in some ways a triumph for mankind, because there are some people who are different—like somewhere among those pages, the author mentions how some white people were a little better than others. In my opinion, this is one book that should be deemed as a classic because it portrays an entire history of slavery in America. I was totally unaware of the history of slave trade and this book gives a complete account of it." - Bangalore, India.
Kunta Kinte: "I really enjoyed the story of Kunta Kinte. That was, by far, the strongest part of the book. His home village, people, and customs were so well developed, it was not hard to get wrapped up in the storyline. The description of the voyage to America, the treatment of the slaves, the realization that he wouldn't see his family again...it made me want to cry. Kunta is given a full personality, with quirks and flaws and a distant likeability. I also liked to see the family evolve over the ages, to see how they are affected by the current events. In addition to reading about the various family members, I was also interested in the outside characters: the slave owners, their own families, and slaves from other plantations." - Denver, Colorado.
African-American Research: "Since most tribal history in Africa was recorded by oral tradition rather than written down, actually tracing one's roots in Africa can be an extremely difficult task, but not impossible. Alex Haley, the author of Roots was able to trace his ancestors all the way back to the African continent. By examining records of slave sales and slave advertisements, many people may be able to trace their family history all the way back to the original arrival of their ancestors in America." - Genealogy.com.
Those Who Personally Knew And Still Honor Alex Haley
Pat Montandon: "Alex was a dear friend. During the time he lived in Rome, New York, he invited me there so he could show me how to write a book outline. He was patient, funny, and inspiring. Alex was a master storyteller. When he talked, in soft melodious tones, about the Gambia river, how he went to Africa to discover his roots, and what led him there, I would sometimes weep. He believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself. Alex was working on Before This Anger, a book that was to become Roots. When Alex and his assistant, George Sims, and my beau went to New York City together, one day outside fifth Avenue's Brentano's book store, Alex said, 'Patsy Lou, someday your book will be right here in this window'. Do you really think so?, I asked. 'Honey, I know so', he said. And it was." - Pat Montandon is the author of How to be a Party Girl, The Intruders, Making Friends, the first soviet-American co-publication, Celebrities and Their Angels, and Oh The Hell Of It All (Harper Collins) a memoir published April 6, 2007.