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In Loving Memory of George Williford Boyce Haley

George Williford Boyce HaleyIn Memory of George Williford Boyce Haley

Holding hands in the family's Sliver Spring, Maryland home with his wife of over sixty year, Doris (née Moxley) Haley, his son from Kansas City, Kansas, David Barton Haley, and his daughter from Los Angeles, California, Anne Palmer Haley, on Wednesday, May 13, 2015, George Williford Boyce Haley left a vibrant life, productive and full, to join the ancestors.

Born August 28, 1925 in Henning, Tennessee to Simon and Bertha (née Palmer) Haley, George was the second of three sons. Both his parents and his brothers, Alex Haley (1921-1992), a noted author, and Julius Haley (1930-2010), an architect, predeceased him, as did a younger, half-sister, Lois Ann Haley-Butts (1933-2004).

George Haley was recognized throughout his lifetime for his dedication to public service. After serving in the United States Air Force during World War II, he enrolled at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, graduating in 1949, and was the second Black to receive a law degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, graduating in 1952.

George and Doris Haley were both born on August 28th (though, most decidedly, in different years!). They met in 1952 in Kansas City, Kansas and married on July 18, 1954 in her hometown of South Bend, Indiana.

He began his law practice in Kansas City as a partner with Stevens, Jackson, Davis and Haley, then became Deputy City Attorney for the City of Kansas City, Kansas. Widely known and greatly respected, in 1964 he became the first Black ever elected to the Kansas State Senate.

The Haley family moved from Kansas to Washington, DC in 1969 when George accepted the first of what would become five different United States presidential appointments including: Chief Counsel for Urban Mass Transportation at the United States Department of Transportation; the United States' delegate to UNESCO; as member then Chairman of the United States Postal Rate Commission; Associate Director for Equal Employment at the United States Information Agency; and culminating with his service as United States Ambassador to the Republic of the Gambia, West Africa, home of his ancestor, Kunta Kinte. Between administrations, he became a partner in the law firm of Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell & Hippel of Philadelphia and Washington, DC and later established his own firm, George W. Haley, P.C., specializing in corporate and international law.

A lifelong and faithful lay leader in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, George was an active member in several civic and professional organizations including: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.; Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Theta Boule; Widow's Son Masonic Lodge; the Board of Trustees of Africare; and a life member of the NAACP. He was the recipient of honorary degrees from The University of Arkansas and from New York's Utica College.

George was the recipient of countless awards and recognitions, but his greatest joy in life—beyond his wife, children and grandchildren—was the strengthening and nourishment of the human spirit. A master of communication, verbal and subtle, George Haley rarely met a person he did not like and who did not like him. Ever generous with his time and resources, he invested and believed and praised the basic good found in all people and cherished the many relationships that grew out of the love he sowed.

The Man Who Wouldn't Quit

The Man Who Wouldn't QuitThe Man Who Wouldn't Quit (March 1963)

The Man Who Wouldn't Quit was first published in Reader's Digest at the height of the civil rights movement, the same year that Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his I Have a Dream speech. It recounts events in the life of George Haley, a man who overcame prejudice to excel as one of the first black students at a Southern law school.

The article contains offensive language and the editors at Reader's Digest have decided to retain that language in the interest of historical accuracy and to preserve the integrity and intent of the author's original version.

Alex Haley introduces us to his brother in The Man Who Wouldn't Quit, and we, too, experience the indignities he experienced as one of the first black students to integrate the all-white University of Arkansas School of law in 1949.

While enduring racial taunts and surviving humiliating incidents—human urine was literally thrown at his face by his fellow students—George Haley rose above the prejudice and earned top grades and a place on the prestigious Law Review.

After graduating in 1952, George Haley joined a law firm in Kansas City and became involved in politics, serving as deputy city attorney and Republican state senator. He has served in national administrations since 1969 under Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush. President Clinton appointed Mr. Haley as U.S. envoy to Gambia from September 1998 to July 2001.

This represented a homecoming of sorts for Haley, who is the great-great-great-great grandson of Kunta Kinte, whose story from his 1767-capture by slave traders in Gambia is retold in the late Alex Haley's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Roots.



George Haley: Moving Letters to The Man Who Wouldn't Quit

(The above video is © 2012 The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)


George Williford Boyce Haley • John Amos • May 23, 2007

The Kunta Kinte - Alex Haley Memorial, Annapolis, Maryland

George W. Haley, Esq. (Ambassador To The Gambia) and John Amos (Actor) who portrayed the adult Kunta Kinte in the ABC Television Mini-Series, Roots, visit the harbor in Annapolis, Maryland where Kunta Kinte first stepped on the shores of America as a slave.

The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial, located at the City Dock in historic Annapolis, portrays in word and symbol the triumph of the human spirit in very difficult times and conveys Alex Haley's vision for national racial reconciliation and healing. It stresses the importance of maintaining strong family connections and of preserving and honoring one's family history and cultural heritage. It is the only memorial in the country that commemorates the actual name and place of arrival of an enslaved African. The Memorial consists of three distinct areas: The Alex Haley Sculpture Group, Compass Rose and Story Wall.

In 2007, Donald L. Baker was hired to take some still photos but he also brought his video camera. In the end, he was able to get Haley and Amos to speak about their experience in this impromptu video.


(Special Acknowledgement Goes To Donald L. Baker of Don Baker Photography Group For Permission To Dedicate And Feature His Video)


Some Memorable Photos of George Williford Boyce Haley
George Haley Candidate For State Senator
The Haley Family: Annapolis, Maryland
George Haley With Gambia Envoys

(Photo Credits: Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History, University of Arkansas and Patrick Morelli of MorelliART.com)


Exclusive Audio Interviews With George Williford Boyce Haley
William Haley And George Haley
Host: Tavis Smiley  January 23, 2002
National Public Radio (NPR)
Ambassador George Haley
Host: Scott Lunsford  March 16, 2006
Haley Residence, Silver Spring, Maryland

(These audio clips are © 2002 NPR. © 2006 University of Arkansas. All Rights Reserved.)

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