February 10, 1992

On this sad day, Alex Haley, author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family (1976), died of a heart attack at age 70 in Seattle.

Roots is the tale of four generations of an African American family, based on Haley’s own life. It became a TV miniseries in 1977 on ABC. The eight-part series was aired on consecutive nights and became one of the most watched television productions in history. 130 million viewers tuned in to watch the last episode of the show.

Roots was a huge critical success, garnering 8 Emmy awards. Haley’s work led to an increased interest in the study of black history and heritage. He also co-wrote the autobiography of Malcom X.