Memorial Story Wall and Compass Rose Unveiled

The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial Story Wall and Compass Rose Unveiled for the First Time
Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial Compass Rose

Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial Compass Rose

Nearly 235 years ago, the slave ship Lord Ligonier delivered 98 Gambian Africans to the Annapolis, Maryland City Harbor to be sold into slavery. Among them, according to Alex Haley, the late Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Roots, was Haley’s African ancestor, Kunta Kinte.

The City of Annapolis, which received 48 slave ships in just a 20-year span around the time of Kinte’s arrival, honored the African, Kunta Kinte, and his descendant, Alex Haley, on June 12, 2002, at the head of the City Dock in the heart of downtown, in a ceremony unveiling the completed Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial.

Leonard A. Blackshear Walkway - Story Wall (Night)

Leonard A. Blackshear Walkway – Story Wall (Night)

The Memorial features a new 100-foot long Story Wall along the City Dock seawall with ten bronze plaques referencing Haley’s writings, a new 14-foot diameter Compass Rose made of bronze and multi-colored granite with a world map centered on Annapolis, a new information kiosk, and new seating and lighting. The site also includes life-size bronze sculptures of Alex Haley reading to three children, by renowned national sculptor Ed Dwight, dedicated in 1999. The cost of the entire project is over $750,000, which has been raised over a ten year period from public and private funds received from around the world.

The national dedication ceremony was the first time the public was able to view and learn about the text and artistic messages incorporated into the Story Wall which was over a year in the making. Award-winning writer Wiley Hall, 3rd, interpretive architect Gary S. Schwerzler, graphic designer Peter D. Tasi, and artist Patricia McHold all had a hand in interpreting and creating the final Story Wall, based on the input of a panel of more than 50 prominent writers, artists, community leaders, and local citizens.

The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial is the only memorial of its kind in the United States that commemorates the actual name and place of arrival of an enslaved African. This occurs in a city that has long celebrated its unique status as the birthplace of modern democracy and freedom: it was in Annapolis that the Continental Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris, thus ending the American Revolution.