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Photographer's Note

Today was the first day back at school for teachers; as with last year I'm teaching both halves of American History (to 1877 and since 1877). This shot, from Annapolis, MD, seems to have relevance to both. It is the Alex Haley/Kunta Kinte statue that sits along Annapolis' inner harbor, which early in the country's history was a slave trade port.

Kunta Kinte was a slave like many others, taken from the area of the Gambia River in 1767 and brought to the shores of what was then British North America. He was not exceptional in any way except for one: he became the central figure in a best-selling novel and television miniseries written by a man claiming to be his descendant.

Alex Haley is one of the bestselling and most well known African American authors in US History, primarily for two works: the first is the Autobiography of Malcolm X, which the late Civil Rights and Black Power activist wrote with Haley, and the second is Roots - a sprawling, multi-generational tale of slavery in the United States (beginning with the story of Kunta Kinte) that was published in 1976 to widespread acclaim. Its popularity, among both black and white Americans, is often credited with creating a resurgence in interest in the historical study of slavery, today one of the most robust areas of American historical research. While Haley stated - and it has been somewhat conclusively shown - that the book is primarily a work of fiction, its connection to Kinte the real historical figure remains strong. The statue marks the spot where it is like Kinte first set foot on American soil, a spot Haley describes as the site of one of the most emotional of his life, as he stood on the spot 200 years after Kinte's supposed arrival.

The statue sits feet from the water, and shows Haley reading his story to the next generation of African American children.

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Additional Photos by Andrew Lipsett (ACL1978) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 883 W: 75 N: 1688] (7467)
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