Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial

The City of Annapolis expresses its appreciation to Leonard Blackshear and the Kunta Kinte - Alex Haley Foundation for providing material for this page.

Why a Memorial?

The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial, located at the City Dock in historic Annapolis, portrays in word and symbol the triumph of the human spirit in very difficult times and conveys Alex Haley's vision for national racial reconciliation and healing. It stresses the importance of maintaining strong family connections and of preserving and honoring one's family history and cultural heritage.

The Memorial is dedicated especially to all of our African ancestors whose names, unlike Kunta Kinte's, are lost forever in the oceans of time. It also is for all people - African, Asian and European - who arrived in the New World in bondage, whose unpaid labor forged the backbone of this nation's rise to greatness. It is dedicated also to their descendants, who strive to create a nation that celebrates ethnic diversity within the spirit of brotherhood, mutual respect, and understanding.

About the Memorial

The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial is the only memorial in the country that commemorates the actual name and place of arrival of an enslaved African. The Memorial consists of three distinct areas: the Alex Haley sculpture group, Compass Rose, and Story Wall.

The sculpture group features Alex Haley seated before a group of three children of different ethnic backgrounds. Holding a book open on his lap, he recounts his family's history and that of the Annapolis port as the symbolic beginning of the history and journey of African Americans. Next to the statues are three bronze plaques including one dedicated in 1981 and containing the original acknowledgement of Kunta Kinte's arrival on the slave ship Lord Ligonier in 1767.

Next to the sculptures is the Story Wall, a series of ten markers topped with bronze plaques lining the retaining sea wall on Compromise Street. On each plaque is a quote from Alex Haley's story of his family' journey as told in Roots. Each quote is accompanied by text and unique graphics that explain and illuminates its meaning. Together, the ten plaques tell how the specific story of the struggles of one African and the triumphs of his descendants have universal resonance and meaning for us all.

The Compass Rose is situated next to the Market House across the street from the sculpture group. Fourteen feet in diameter, it includes a bronze inlaid compass and map of the world oriented to true North with Annapolis at its center. Around the Compass Rose is special lighting and seating. Several web cameras also are being installed at various vantage points downtown to provide continuous on-line worldwide visual access to the site. A nearby information display stand explains the Memorial and the meaning of each of its components.

The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation is presenting the Memorial to the City of Annapolis as stewards of the Memorial for all the citizens of the world community.

The Sculpture Group

The sculptures depict Alex Haley reading to three children of different ethnic backgrounds. Join with them and recall your own family stories. A plaque next to them commemorates the arrival of Kunta Kinte.

The Story Wall

This is a row of ten plaques just beyond the sculpture group. Each plaque displays a quote from Roots and and interpretive thought. Share these messages with others.

The Compass Rose

The Compass Rose, comprised of granite and bronze, points to true north. The City of Annapolis is located at the map's center. Stand there and face the direction of your ancestors' origins.