A politician and activist

As a part of its series in celebration of Black History Month, the Razorback Athletic Department is saluting Trailblazers from the African-American community who have attended the University of Arkansas. Several of the honorees in our series were also selected as Silas Hunt Legacy Award recipients recently.

The Honorable George W. Haley exemplifies courage, patience, and perseverance, which have served to make him an influential politician, attorney, and civil rights activist.Haley was raised in Pine Bluff, Ark., where his father, Simon Haley, served as dean of agriculture and taught at Arkansas AM&N College, now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.Haley graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta one year behind Martin Luther King Jr. He then became the second black student to graduate from the UA School of Law in 1952. He was named to the school’s Law Review staff and wrote an article for the journal that was recognized in a national competition.After graduation, Haley joined a law firm in Kansas City, Kan., and became involved in politics, serving as deputy city attorney and Republican state senator. He ran for Congress in the Kansas Republican primary in 1966 and the U.S. Senate in the Maryland Republican primary in 1986.During his time at the U of A and thereafter, Haley worked to remove the divisions of race in this country. He has been a persistent and courageous civil rights worker, participating in sit-ins, marches, and freedom bus rides. He has consistently stressed the need for voting and economic empowerment by African Americans.Haley has served in national administrations since 1969 under Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush. His government posts included chief counsel of the Federal Transit Administration from 1969 to 1973 and general counsel and congressional liaison of the U.S. Information Agency, now part of the State Department, from 1976 to 1977. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed Haley chairman of the Postal Rate Commission.President William J. Clinton appointed 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 re-told in the late Alex Haley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Roots.” Alex and George Haley were brothers. Alex also wrote an article for the March 1953 edition of Readers Digest about George’s experiences at the UA School of Law called “The Man Who Wouldn’t Quit.”In 2004, he spent time as a U.S. Department of State lecturer in Botswana, Namibia, and Swaziland, speaking on the history and development of African Americans. He has lectured in many parts of the world.Haley was awarded honorary degrees from Utica College and the University of Arkansas in 2003.He and his wife have two adult children and seven grandchildren.

The University of Arkansas’ Office of University Relations provided the content of today’s salute. For more information on the Silas Hunt Legacy Award Event, please jump here.