On this day in 1977, Alex Haley received the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for “Roots”


Author Alex Haley, right, poses with his brothers Julius, left, and George, at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, April 19, 1977, after their return from the African village of Juffre in Gambia, where Alex had traced an ancestor for his book "Roots." Haley was surprised by an article in the newspaper he's holding claiming that he was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize for his best-selling book. (AP Photo/Ira Schwarz)
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On April 18, 1977, author and historian Alex Haley received the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for his groundbreaking novel “Roots: The Saga of an American Family.” The narrative delved into generations of his family’s lineage, tracing back to Kunta Kinte, an 18th-century African sold into slavery in the American South.

“Roots” garnered significant acclaim, spending 20 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list. Concurrently, it was adapted into an immensely successful miniseries, captivating more viewers than any other program in television history at that time.

Alex Haley, author of “Roots,” autographs his book for fans at a book store in Los Angeles, Feb. 1, 1977. An estimated crowd of 3,000 are lined up outside for the booksigning event. A publisher’s representative described the scene as “incredible.” A television version of the book, which is about Haley’s ancestors, set TV viewing records. (AP Photo/George Brich)

Alongside “Roots,” Haley conducted interviews with numerous notable African-Americans, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Miles Davis, and Malcolm X, for a series featured in Playboy magazine. Additionally, he authored the bestseller “The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley.”

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