A plaque honoring the arrival of African slave Kunta Kinte in America in 1767 was dedicated in Annapolis yesterday by Alex Haley, a seventh-generation descendant who made Kinte's journey famous in the book and television series "Roots."
The bronze plaque was installed at the City Dock, near where Kinte presumably arrived aboard the ship Lord Ligonier as part of a cargo of 98 slaves from the West African coastal area that is now the independent nation of Gambia. Its wording commemorates not only Kinte but also "all . . . who came to these shores in bondage and . . . helped to make these United States."
Maryland Gov. Harry R. Hughes told a crowd of about 500 that overflowed a small harborside park that the ceremony "signifies the resolve of this state and this nation to resist and reject those who, through their senseless cross-burnings and temple desecrations, would cast us back into a dark chapter of history."
Unlike Kunta Kinte, Haley arrived in splendor at dockside. He was transported aboard a luxurious state-owned yacht and was greeted by musical selections that included "The Impossible Dream." And Haley, a Californian, was named an honorary citizen of both Maryland and Annapolis.
The ceremony ended a four-year effort by black groups in Annapolis. The prior mayor and City Council refused to permit the installation of the plaque, but new Mayor Richard Hillman supported it after taking office earlier this year.