MLK, Alex Haley & Playboy’s most memorable interview

Adam Henig

To commemorate the annual federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I wanted to share a story behind Alex Haley’s Playboy interview of the civil rights leader, which was published exactly 50 years ago this month.

This blog post was originally posted on January 15, 2014. 

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MLKDuring the winter of 1964, when the forty-three year-old Alex Haley approached the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for an interview in Playboy, the up-and-coming writer assumed his intended subject would happily oblige.

Having already published articles in Reader’s DigestCosmopolitan, and The Atlantic, and having conducted interviews Miles Davis, Muhammad Ali, and Malcolm X (all for Playboy), Haley had established himself as one of the nation’s leading African American magazine writers.

If anyone in the media could secure an interview with King, it was Haley, who was praised by the black news publication, Negro Digest, as the “most successful…

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