Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial
The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial in Annapolis commemorates the place of arrival of esteemed author Alex Haley’s ancestor, Kunta Kinte. The memorial includes plaques that line the sidewalks for visitors to interact with and stands as the only memorial in the United States that commemorates the point of arrival of an enslaved African. The memorial was commissioned by the mayor of Annapolis, Richard Hillman in 1981. This occurred shortly after Haley’s critically acclaimed novel, Roots opened the eyes of people around the world to the role the city of Annapolis played in the story of the slave trade.
Backstory and Context
The memorial has been remarked for its historical as well as its artistic significance. It’s historical importance cannot be understated because while it stands as a monument to Kunta Kinte and the odds he overcame, it tells the story of all slaves like him. This fact isn’t lost on the creators of the memorial who have included information kiosks in addition to the numerous plaques to provide visitors and passersby with a few facts on the history of slavery.
The struggle to erect the memorial is a remarkable one. Shortly after it was dedicated in the winter of 1981, the plaque was stolen, allegedly by the Klu Klux Clan. The series of events that followed made international headlines and although the original was never recovered, donations poured in from all over the nation to fund a new memorial. It wasn’t until 2002, however, that the current Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial was presented. It stands as a fitting tribute to the struggles of Kunta Kinte and slaves like him who were uprooted from their homes and brought to the New World in chains. The memorial is one of the most visited destinations in the city of Annapolis drawing in an estimated one million visitors annually.