Magazine article American Forests

The Alex Haley Silver Maple

Magazine article American Forests

The Alex Haley Silver Maple

Article excerpt

What better way to honor the author of Roots than to plant an offspring of a lovely old tree that shades the porch of his boyhood home?

On a wall in Alex Haley's Tennessee mansion hangs a glass frame that holds two old sardine cans and 18 cents. Haley kept it there to remind him of just how little he had at one time in his life. Haley used 12 years of that life to trace his African ancestry, and wrote it all down in his epic book Roots, inspiring millions around the world and bringing him enormous success.

First published in 1976, Roots was made into an eight-part television miniseries a year later.

Over half of all U.S. homes with TV sets watched the final two-hour episode.

Haley died last February in a Seattle, Washington, hospital at the age of 70. He will long be remembered for his writings--notably Roots, but also articles in Atlantic, Harper's, Reader's Digest, and The New York Times Magazine--documenting and illuminating his African heritage. In keeping with that same idea, AMERICAN FORESTS' Famous & Historic Trees program seeks to preserve and document important aspects of American history by collecting seeds from notable trees on historic sites across the nation. It is eminently fitting that a large silver maple overhanging the porch of Haley's boyhood home in Henning, Tennessee, is now part of the award-winning program.

Born in Ithaca, New York, Haley was raised in Tennessee by his maternal grandmother, Cynthia Palmer, and spent many summer evenings listening to her stories about ancestors Kunta Kinte and others who became characters in his Pulitzer-winning novel. …

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