Giant Alex Haley.

Giant Alex "Roots" Haley

Field review by the editors.

Knoxville, Tennessee

Alex Haley probably spent some time in Knoxville in the last few years of his life, when he lived on a farm about 20 miles away. Still, it's a surprise to see this giant version of him in an obscure park in a city with which he otherwise had no connection. When bronze Alex was dedicated in April 1998, it was said to be the largest likeness of an African-American in the USA.

Giant Alex Haley.

Haley was best known as the author of "Roots," less-well-known as the ghostwriter of Malcom X's autobiography, and almost forgotten for his many Playboy magazine celebrity interviews and his screenwriter credit for the blaxsploitation film, Super Fly T.N.T. Before "Roots" made him a celebrity, Haley had to scrounge just like any other writer.

The sculpture, by Tina Allen, is 13 feet high and weighs over two tons. Haley sits on a rock, wearing a cable-knit sweater and a leather jacket, paying no attention to the open book in his lap -- a copy of "Roots" -- and gazing toward the horizon through oversized smart-person eyeglasses.

The statue was supposed to be accompanied by a visitor center that would tell the story of Alex Haley, but it was never built. A tiny bronze plaque, not near the statue and easily missed, provides a one-sentence synopsis of Alex Haley's literary resume. Younger visitors who don't read the plaque might wonder who the giant bronze guy is.

Giant Alex "Roots" Haley

Haley Heritage Square

Address:
Hazen St., Knoxville, TN
Directions:
Haley Heritage Square. I-40 exit 388A onto James White Pkwy, then take the exit ramp for Summit Hill Drive. Turn left at the stoplight. Drive a half-mile. Pass the stoplight at Hill/MLK Jr Ave. Go up a small hill and turn right onto Hazen St. You'll see the statue and parking lot on the left.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Audacious Confederate Cemetery MonumentAudacious Confederate Cemetery Monument, Knoxville, TN - < 1 mi.
Monument to the Unknown DeadMonument to the Unknown Dead, Knoxville, TN - < 1 mi.
Bicycle ArchBicycle Arch, Knoxville, TN - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Floyd Garrett's Muscle Car Museum, Sevierville, TN - 20 mi.

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August 8, 2020

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