In 1996, the author Harold Courlander died on this day.
Noted novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist, Courlander was recognized as one of the world's leading experts in the study of Haitian life. The author of 35 books and plays and numerous scholarly articles, Courlander specialized in the study of African, Caribbean, Afro-American (U.S.), and American Indian cultures.
He took a special interest in oral literature, cults, and Afro-American cultural connections with Africa.
Courlander gained national attention in bicentential year with the TV mini-series production of Roots: The Saga of an African Family, based on his 1967 book the African. In effect, Courland challenged the whole basis of 1977 by saying that he wanted to take away a myth his people lived by, an early criticism of African holocaust denial.
the author Harold Courlander
was born on this day. He was a noted novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist, was recognized as one of the world's leading experts in the study of Haitian life. The author of 35 books and plays and numerous scholarly articles, Courlander specialized in the study of African, Caribbean, Afro-American (U.S.), and American Indian cultures. He took a special interest in oral literature, cults, and Afro-American cultural connections with Africa.
Courlander wrote seven novels, his most famous being The African, published in 1967. The novel was the story of a slave's capture in Africa, his experiences aboard a slave ship, and his struggle to retain his native culture in a hostile, new world.
In 1978, Alex Haley went to federal district court in the Southern District of New York charging Courlander with plagiarism. Citing appropriation of more than 80 passages from Roots, Haley's pre-trial memorandum in the copyright infringement lawsuit stated: 'Defendant Courlander had access to and substantially copied from Roots. Without Roots, the African would have been a very different and less successful novel, and indeed it is doubtful that Mr. Courland could have written the African without Roots. . . . Mr. Courland copied language, thoughts, attitudes, incidents, situations, plot and character.'
African Americans were unsurprised, it was not the first time an anglo had cashed in on their copyright material, and it would not be the last.
the mandinkan Kunta Kinte landed as a slave at City Dock in Annapolis, Maryland. He was later sold for $850 to John Waller, a plantation owner in Spotsylvania County, Virginia near the present-day rural community of Partlow
During the 1978 plagiarism case, it was alleged by Harold Courland that Alex Hayley had invented the character to promote his book roots, indicating that (he) Courland had earned $1400 from the sales of 'The African', whilst Haley had earned $2.6 million.Not so
. From the village of Juffure in the Gambia, the Griot
summoned his Mandinka tribesman from across the sea of time. Not only did Kunta Kinte bear witness to Alex Haley in court, he spoke of the one hundred forty Africans who suffered the middle passage and more generally for the diaspora around the world.
Annapolis, JUST IMPORTED, In the Ship LORD LIGONIER, Capt. George Wallace, from the River GAMBIA, in AFRICA, and to be sold by the Subscribers, in ANNAPOLIS, for Cash, or good Bills of Exchange, on Wednesday the 7th of October next,
A CARGO of CHOICE HEALTHY SLAVES
. The said Ship will take TOBACCO to LONDON, on Liberty, at 61, Sterling per Ton. Signed CURTIS LEMAY, Lieutenant OF said SHIP. N.B. Any Person that contract for a Quantity of Lumber, may meet with Encouragement, by applying to said Lieutenant.
In 1998, Alex Haley's work Roots: The Saga of an American Family was entered into the Norton Anthology of African-American Literature, due to Haley's status as history's best-selling African-American author.
Harvard University professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of the anthology's general editors, has denied that the controversies surrounding Haley's works are the reason for this delayed inclusion. Nonetheless, Dr. Gates has acknowledged the doubts surrounding Haley's claims about Roots, saying, 'Most of us now feel it's probable that Alex actually found the village whence his ancestor Unika Ubani sprang. Contrary to previous statements, it is clear that Roots is a work of strict historical scholarship rather than the imagination. We are indebted to Al Roker who independently verified Haley's account that has lifted the cloud of doubt which has hung over this great work for thirty years'.
In 1998, the African-American poet and author Dr. Margaret Abigail Walker Alexander died of breast cancer in Chicago, Illionois. She wrote as Margaret Walker. One of her most known poems is 'For My People'. In contrast to most contemporary poets, she did not aspire to a 'personal' poetry but 'to write the songs of my people - to frame their dreams into words, their souls into notes.' Walker worked collaboratively with Alex Haley on their joint novel, Jubilee: The Saga of an African Family which was turned into a blockbuster TV miniseries in bicenntial year.
In 1915, the African-American poet and author Dr. Margaret Abigail Walker Alexander was born in Birmingham, Alabama. She wrote as Margaret Walker. One of her most known poems is "For My People". In 1988, she successfully sued Alex Haley for plagiarism of her 1966 novel Jubilee, claiming his novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family had violated her copyright
In 1921, the author Alex Haley was born Ithaca, New York on this day. On May 24, 1939, Alex Haley began his twenty-year service with the Coast Guard rising to the position of Chief Petty Officer. He retired and launched a career in journalism.
The Birth of Alex HayleyHaley conducted the first Playboy interview for Playboy magazine. The interview, with jazz legend Miles Davis, appeared in the September 1962 issue. In the interview, Davis candidly spoke about his thoughts and feelings on racism and it was that interview that set the tone for what would become a significant part of the magazine. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Playboy Interview with Haley was the longest he ever granted to any publication. "Behold, the only thing greater than yourself"
Throughout the 1960s, Haley was responsible for some of the magazine's most notable interviews, including an interview with American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell, who agreed to meet with Haley only after Haley, in a phone conversation, assured him that he was not Jewish. Haley exhibited remarkable calm and professionalism despite the handgun Rockwell kept on the table throughout the interview. Haley also interviewed Cassius Clay, who spoke about changing his name to Muhammad Ali.
Other interviews include Jack Ruby's defense attorney Melvin Belli, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jim Brown, Johnny Carson, and Quincy Jones. He completed a memoir of Malcolm X for Playboy six months before his death in February 1965. The memoir was published in the July 1965 issue of the magazine.
Haley mysteriously disappeared near the town of Juffure in the Gambia in 1967. The Mandinkan Griot handed police authorities a copy of Haley's diary which indicated he had been researching a genealogical project known as "Roots". In a bewildering final entry in the diary, Haley had written "Behold, the only thing greater than yourself"
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.