Alex Haley – His Search For Roots (1977)

Speech by Roots/Autobiography of Malcom X author ALEX HALEY originally released in 1977 by Warner Brothers Records. Presented for historical purposes. I do not control the rights.


Alex Haley, in full Alexander Palmer Haley, (born August 11, 1921, Ithaca, New York, U.S.—died February 10, 1992, Seattle, Washington), American writer whose works of historical fiction and reportage depicted the struggles of African Americans.

Although his parents were teachers, Haley was an indifferent student. He began writing to avoid boredom during voyages while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard (1939–59). His first major work, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965), was an authoritative and widely read narrative based on Haley’s interviews with the Black Muslim spokesman. The work is recognized as a classic of African American literature.

Haley’s greatest success was Roots: The Saga of an American Family (1976). This saga covers seven American generations, from the enslavement of Haley’s African ancestors to his own genealogical quest. The work forcefully shows relationships between generations and between races. Roots was adapted as a multi-episode television program, which, when first broadcast in January 1977, became one of the most popular shows in the history of American television and galvanized attention on African American issues and history. That same year Haley won a special Pulitzer Prize. A successful sequel was first broadcast in February 1979 as Roots: The Next Generations. Another TV adaptation of the novel debuted in 2016.

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32 Responses

  1. Ram Richard says:


  2. Nek Nek says:

    I could listen to him talk all day

  3. R Martin says:

    Mr. Haley also inspired us to trace our genealogy even though we are not African-American. As Latinos, we were able to trace our family back to the small village in Spain where our ancestors lived before making the trip to the America’s as conquistadors.

  4. Obeomah Bey says:

    Navy Intelligence officer alleged to have assisted Malcom X with his Autobiography of, that was published AFTERWARDS. The Roots hoax revealed the levels of duplicity engaged in United States history go along with the takeover of the Republic since 1861.
    Although he is still featured on those Negro calendars that you get from Negro funeral homes, he plagiarized the CHARACTER, Kunta Kente from the NOVEL, The African by Harold Corlander and had to pay him over a half a million dollars for the literary theft.

  5. MyLorenzoB says:


  6. Connie Daniels says:

    Chicken George is the one to purchase that land in Henning with the money he made from cock fighting.That is how the family ended up un Henning Tennessee in the first place.I would love to visit that town where they lived.

  7. rtgeorgelu says:

    That was an amazing story and journey. And his telling of it was so entertaining

  8. Ben Van Rossum says:

    It really had a great impact on me when I watched the tv series, when I was about 11 ore 12.The scene when he wouldn't accept his slave name,Toby.His real name was Kunta Kinta.It really had a deep impression.It was years later when they found out that he invented 1 generation,Wich he couldn't find proof for.But it had already made a to big impression to be angry about it.When America became a world power,the black population had a big influence on the country.Just think about music.And I'm 55 years now.But still i remember it very well.

  9. Dana Stewart says:

    This country was born on hate and will die on hate .

  10. Dana Stewart says:

    I live only one hour away from Henning TN so I drove down there And was at Aww how small that little town was and I went inside Alex old home and his grave was right in the front yard and I cried because I walked right into history then I went to the graveyard at the cemetery and I had to go to the black side of the graveyard because in those days blacks were not allowed to be buried next to White's. I found Alex Haley's whole family graves and I stood over it and said a prayer and took pictures it was the best experience ever to me so I'm planning on going back and take my family.

  11. Shirley Ashcraft says:

    Good movie

  12. wendy Lloyd says:

    Yes this overwhelming story is true. I watched the whole series over 13 weeks in 1981. It took me 6 years to read the big paper and never tired from it. Bought the dvd though of course it finishes when Chicken George and family travel to Tennessee.

  13. Maura Micheletti says:

    In Italy the series Roots arrived in 1978 and It was a success wonderful!!!

  14. Hassan Ahmed says:

    I wish they would make a move about him making the research like they made the series of Roots. Brilliant man

  15. Elleyona SpG says:

    I am happy I came across this video. Some where I read that Mr. Haley plagiarised from two different authors. Having listened to this I am convinced that that is absolutely false.

  16. REGINALD OFORI says:

    As you compare the time of his writings and meeting the last relation cousin George, you would realise the Spirit of God moved him. The cousin died when he stepped foot in Gambia to complete his work.

  17. REGINALD OFORI says:

    The Spirit of God lives. When you listen to Alex Haley's story you will realise Kunta Kante called on the Spirit of God to see this day.

  18. William Mills says:

    Did he really write this?

  19. john gillians says:

    Alex Haley is a fraud. He plagerized this book then married a white lady . Get lost

  20. Haile Hagos says:

    please most of go and see africa

  21. Linda Walker says:

    If u want to keep believing that u are an african u do so.but the people that africa sold were Israelites.

  22. Derrill Floyd says:

    He’s been proven to be a fraud.

  23. Tudy says:

    This was so exceptionally Brilliant and wonderfully poignant…thank you Mr Haley…Mr.Kinte…rest in peace.

  24. TheKaren_makeup says:

    No matter what the trolls say, we all have a different story of our being. He search his history and nothing is wrong with that! But to say it's a preposterous to say the least. We all have Roots we just need to find our own Period.


    ALEX HALEY's name will be etched into our collective world history for bringing ROOTS to the world which had turned the old concepts upside down….thank you sir. In Samoa, we had our version of being subjected to colonial powers who suppressed and oppressed our people of which some were exiled to distant lands for standing up to their colonial masters BUT it is nowhere near what the African Americans and the slaves were subjected to for a long time, a shameful part of human history. These must be taught in class so a more informed population will be more tolerant towards black people's struggles even today. Malo fa'afetai Mr Haley.

  26. Tremontenia Morgan says:


  27. James Ross says:


  28. Dorian Gilmer says:

    It's a shame that Mr. Haley and company chose to present Roots as fact , and not as docu-drama as it was exposed to be. Regardless, the book and subsequent movies and TV series did and does convey A LOT OF ENLIGHTENING TRUTHS (undoubtedly influenced with plenty of Hollywood writer and producer discretion), as well as inspiring many of Us to seek out their African lineage. One of the truths that we should take from this is to return to taking time out to gather together and share our oral history AT HOME, and learning the foundation of who we are as Black Americans, and stop leaving it to the education system.

  29. Keith Fitzgerald says:

    "Harold Courlander's novel 'The African' describes an African boy who is captured by slave traders, follows him across the Atlantic on a slave ship, and describes his attempts to hold on to his African traditions on a plantation in America. Haley admitted that some passages from 'The African' had made it into Roots, settling the case out of court in 1978 and paying Courlander $650,000.

    Genealogists have also disputed Haley's research and conclusions in 'Roots. 'The Gambian griot turned out not to be a real griot, and the story of Kunta Kinte appears to have been a case of circular reporting, in which Haley's own words were repeated back to him. None of the written records in Virginia and North Carolina line up with the Roots story until after the Civil War.

    Haley and his work have been excluded from the Norton Anthology of African-American Literature, despite his status as the United States' best-selling black author. Harvard University professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of the anthology's general editors, has denied that the controversies surrounding Haley's works are the reason for this exclusion. In 1998, Dr. Gates acknowledged the doubts surrounding Haley's claims about 'Roots,' saying, 'Most of us feel it's highly unlikely that Alex actually found the village whence his ancestors sprang. Roots is a work of the imagination rather than strict historical scholarship.'" – Wikipedia

  30. Keith Fitzgerald says:

    Too bad he was such a plagiarist and that he invented musch of his supposed family history.

  31. Omar Jarju says:

    That's my belove country the Gambia
    What a great man
    What a heart touching story

  32. zoelynn kendrick says:

    I am full beyond measure of the story of my roots, told by the writer I listen to how the slaves were brought to this country the tears came down my face..feeling hurt and sorry for them and myself knowing we are the only ppl here who didn't want to come here, and used as cattle less then human beings..I'd better stop here…for this practice is still in effect today..and other races are still benefiting from infact we are still slaves to the least of them..

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