Original Arrival Plaque
A Modern Mystery
The original plaque commemorating the arrival of Kunta Kinte on September 29, 1767, aboard the ship Lord Ligonier was installed in the walkway along the water’s edge at the Annapolis, Maryland City Dock in 1981. Funds to pay for the plaque and its installation were raised by a local group of community citizens led by Carl O. Snowden.
Alex Haley, the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Roots, a story about Kunta Kinte and his descendants, attended the plaque’s dedication ceremony. Thousands of people witnessed the historic event.
Today, the whereabouts of that original plaque remains one of the biggest mysteries of the history of Annapolis. Within 48 hours of the dedication ceremony, the plaque was stolen by one or more unknown thieves. The thieves left a calling card stating the site had been visited by the KKK. The story immediately caught the attention of international media.
The local citizens, enraged over the theft, vowed to raise new funds to replace the stolen plaque. Two months later a replacement plaque was installed. While extensive search efforts were made to find the original plaque, including dredging the waters along the dock area, it has never been found. The plaque visitors see today is the 1981 replacement plaque.
In 1997, the replacement plaque was raised and mounted on a new pedestal which sits near the walkway site where it had been previously installed. The new pedestal was designed as one of the early components of a much larger Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial site. The 1981 replacement plaque can be seen today at its new resting place prominently displayed beside the statue of Alex Haley.
The plaque’s message, in part states:
To commemorate the arrival, in this harbor of Kunta Kinte, immortalized by Alex Haley in Roots, and all others who came to these shores in bondage and who by their toil, character and ceaseless struggle for freedom have helped to make these United States.
It is a message of tribute to the African Americans and others who came in bondage and have contributed to the strength and rich diversity of this Nation.