Museum renovation, book re-release honor late author Haley

Aug 13, 2021, 7:30 PM | Updated: Aug 14, 2021, 7:41 am
A photo of late author Alex Haley hangs on the wall of the Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Cente...

A photo of late author Alex Haley hangs on the wall of the Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, in Henning, Tenn. The museum is honoring the writer of "Roots: The Saga of an American Family," on the 100th anniversary of Haley's birthday. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)

(AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)

              A portrait of late author Alex Haley hangs on the wall of the Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, in Henning, Tenn. The museum is honoring the writer of "Roots: The Saga of an American Family," on the 100th anniversary of Haley's birthday. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)
            
              A photo of late author Alex Haley hangs on the wall of the Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021, in Henning, Tenn. The museum is honoring the writer of "Roots: The Saga of an American Family," on the 100th anniversary of Haley's birthday. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)

HENNING, Tenn. (AP) — Find the good and praise it.

It’s a phrase the late Alex Haley, author of the 1976 novel “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” often said during his life, from his days residing in the small West Tennessee town of Henning through his world travels as a journalist and writer. His seminal book about the horrors and injustices of slavery include messages of perseverance, courage and strength.

Now, on the occasion of his 100th birthday, the author’s bridge-building legacy is being invoked once again as a kind of antidote to an especially contentious period of American life. A ribbon-cutting at the renovated Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center took place Friday, and a community celebration featuring music, food and a fashion show is scheduled Saturday.

Haley’s life was filled with examples of living by those words. There was the time he encouraged close friend Fred Montgomery to become his hometown’s first Black mayor, pushing back at resistance from some of the town’s white populace.

Haley, who was Black and died in 1992, also is remembered in this month’s re-release of a 2003 book entitled “Finding the Good,” by former Associated Press journalist Lucas L. Johnson II.

Johnson’s book discusses the life of Montgomery, who befriended Haley in Henning. As young boys, they would swim together and write love poems to girls. Haley had wanted to write a book about Montgomery, who was born into a family of sharecroppers and endured racism in the Jim Crow South before becoming a successful plumber, farm owner, alderman and mayor. Johnson weaves Montgomery’s story with examples from his own life dealing with racism, family members grappling with substance abuse and incarceration, and issues of faith.

Haley is most well known for “Roots,” which earned him a Pulitzer Prize and was turned into a TV miniseries watched by a record-setting 130 million people when it was released in 1977. Haley also wrote “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” based on interviews with the civil rights leader.

The Henning museum and the home where Haley lived with his grandparents from 1921 to 1929 are state historic sites.

In his book, Johnson includes examples of Haley’s influence on himself and Montgomery. In this month’s re-release, Johnson updates his book to bring Haley’s message of “finding the good” into the context of current-day issues like the coronavirus and the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer in Minnesota.

“Prayerfully, I started looking for the good,” Johnson writes. “And I found the inspiring stories of health-care workers and first responders — as well as everyday people — who risked their lives to help others.

“I saw people who had once ignored the reality of racism remove their blinders, embrace humanity, and work alongside non-whites to create change,” he continues. “I saw hope for a truly divided nation.”

“Finding the Good” has received praise from “Roots” actor Louis Gossett Jr., civil rights leader James M. Lawson Jr., and Bernice A. King, daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The re-release also includes a timely foreword by former Tennessee governor and Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who was friends with Montgomery and Haley and cites Haley’s inspirational motto.

Alexander, state and local elected officials, and Haley’s grandson, Bill Haley, attended Friday’s event marking the renovation of the museum, located on the grounds of his boyhood home. The museum sits near the location of a house Haley bought for Montgomery, another example of Haley “finding the good.” Alexander and other speakers cited Haley’s favorite phrase during their remarks.

As a boy, Alex Haley would sit alongside his grandmother on the porch of the 10-room, bungalow-style house and listen to her tell stories about his ancestors.

Bill Haley called the home “the spiritual center, the lifeblood” of his grandfather’s interest in his family’s oral history, their roots.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Fire breaks at landmark Istanbul hotel; no injuries reported

ISTANBUL (AP) — A fire broke out Friday at a luxury hotel located on the grounds of a former Ottoman palace in Turkey, news reports said. There were no immediate reports of any injuries. The fire broke out on the fourth floor of the Ciragan Palace Hotel, covering the building in thick smoke, NTV television […]
1 day ago
Relatives and other protesters from the Roma community chant slogans outside the courthouse in Gree...
Associated Press

Greek police officer in court over shooting of Roma teen

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — A Greek police officer appeared in court in northern Greece Friday over the shooting and serious injury of a Roma teenager during a police chase over an allegedly unpaid gas station bill, with protesters gathering outside the courthouse. About 200 friends, relatives and other protesters from the Roma community gathered outside […]
1 day ago
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N...
Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press

Bill protecting same-sex, interracial unions clears Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House gave final approval Thursday to legislation protecting same-sex marriages, a monumental step in a decadeslong battle for nationwide recognition that reflects a stark turnaround in societal attitudes. President Joe Biden has said he will promptly sign the measure, which requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages. It is a relief […]
1 day ago
An elderly man on a stretcher is wheeled into the fever clinic at a hospital in Beijing, Friday, De...
Associated Press

China struggles with COVID infections after controls ease

BEIJING (AP) — A rash of COVID-19 cases in schools and businesses were reported by social media users Friday in areas across China after the ruling Communist Party loosened anti-virus rules as it tries to reverse a deepening economic slump. Official data showed a fall in new cases, but those no longer cover big parts […]
1 day ago
FILE - Poland's main ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski attends a wreath laying ceremony markin...
Associated Press

With vote ahead, Polish leader turns up anti-German rhetoric

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s ruling party leader claims Germany seeks to dominate Europe. He warns that Poles could end up under the “German heel.” He snubs a German offer of anti-missile systems before Poland eventually accepts them — but gets in an anti-German dig along the way. Ahead of elections next year, Jaroslaw Kaczynski […]
1 day ago
FILE - Ukraine Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko walks outside of the International Monetary Fund (...
Associated Press

Helping Ukraine is ‘self-preservation,’ finance chief says

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Ukraine’s finance minister says crucial Western financial support is “not charity” but “self-preservation” in the fight to defend democracy as his country deals with growing costs to repair electrical and heating infrastructure wrecked by Russian attacks. Serhiy Marchenko also told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday from Kyiv that he […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Museum renovation, book re-release honor late author Haley