The Capital of Annapolis

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — More than $36,000 will be spent to upgrade the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial at City Dock in Annapolis.

The project was one of three African American Heritage Preservation Program grants approved this week by the state Board of Public Works.

Work on the monument will include cleaning and polishing the bronze statue of Haley and the 12 plaques that line part of City Dock. It also will include cleaning and preserving the compass rose outside Market House.

The monument features a life-size bronze statue of Haley, the author of “Roots,” a novel published in 1976 about slaves coming to America.

The sculpture group depicts Haley reading to three children.

Sitting on the children and climbing on Haley is a popular activity for tourists.

“They get just about as hard use as any bronze statues anywhere,” said Greg Stiverson, president of the Kunta Kinte-Alex
Haley Foundation.

The monument was dedicated in June 2002. It is at the head of Ego Alley, near where the slave ship Lord Legionier arrived in 1767 from Gambia. One of slaves it transported was Kunta Kinte, an ancestor of Haley.

The monuments are a short distance from Spa Creek and the Severn River, and must endure frequent flooding and constant weathering.

Stiverson, former president of the Historic Annapolis Foundation, recalled seeing the statue completely submerged in
2003, when Tropical Storm Isabel flooded the Annapolis waterfront.

The monument underwent a major cleaning following that storm, Stiverson said.

The restoration project will include replacing wiring and lighting along the wall where the 12 bronze plaques are located,
and upgrading the webcam watched by viewers around the world.

After this renovation, Stiverson said, maintenance will consist of applying special wax every three years.

The Board of Public Works also approved $34,855 to replace the roof on the old Pomonkey High School, the first African-American public high school in Charles County. The largest of the three African-American heritage grants approved this week — $100,000 — went toward restoring Christ Rock Methodist Episcopal Church outside Cambridge.

The Maryland Commission on African American History & Culture was founded in 1969 as the Commission on Negro History and Culture.

The commission’s chairman, Theodore Mack, said it always has been a challenge to raise money for restoring sites of importance in the black community.

Often, he said, these humble sites have had to compete with larger, more impressive structures, such as 18th-century and antebellum mansions, and the homes of the Founding Fathers.

“It was nearly always a small structure that had about completely disappeared, and while we would be talking about a small amount of money, there was always something larger and much more exciting,” Mack said.

Work on the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial is expected to start in April and finish before the summer tourist season.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (3)
  1. Haley Fan says:

    If I remember correctly “Roots” was fiction. Haley wrote a great book and later turned into a TV series, but the fact that Haley and Kunte were related was not proven. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  2. Susan says:

    You are right, I do not believe anyone can absolutely say he was not, but significant doubt has been cast that the genealogy Haley developed was correct. As an amateur genealogist, I can say it is often difficult to trace Black people of that era as American records often do not exist or are incomplete or simply incorrect and written records from that era generally do not exist in Africa. Slaves were bought, sold and traded and their names were sometimes changed in that process and someone might have owned several by the same name as they were usually given the same surname as the owner. Haley also admitted that he plagiarized portions of the book “Roots” and paid a settlement to the author he stole from. I do think Haley thought he was descended from Kunta Kinte just as I think I am descended from my specific ancestors, but of course we could be wrong.

    I prefer to think of the statue as representative of all the slaves that entered Maryland there on the city dock and all their descendants and the tradition of storytelling and sharing family history with young people.

    My big issue is that, with the economy as it is now, I question spending tax dollars to clean a statue that could wait a few years. I can see the urgency to keep a historic building under roof to preserve it and prevent more deterioration, but that statue can wait for a bit as it is not in that bad a shape right now. The government needs to do what many of us are having to do now and prioritize how we spend and put some non essential things on hold for a while. The money could be better spent to educate some real kids right now than to clean some bronze ones.

  3. gorillaman says:

    We don’t need any more coons in downtown Annapolis, statues or real live monkeys. The Alex Haley roots thing was a black scam at a time when the country was feeling guilty about slavery when in truth, the blacks came willingly by their own kind leading them.

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