New Historian

Excavation of Malcolm X Home Yields Link to Colonial Past

Malcolm X (1)

<![CDATA[An excavation on the site of Malcolm X’s boyhood Boston-area home has yielded historical links not to the civil rights activist’s past, but to older periods of history – which could include the Colonial era. The two-week long dig, which started on March 29th of this year, was intended to explore the 2-and-a-half story home in order to uncover any additional information about the early life of the assassinated minister and activist, known as Malcolm Little during his formative years. The excavation was also meant to look for artifacts from the previous owners of the home, a family of Irish immigrants who occupied the property during the Great Depression. However, the dig uncovered something completely unexpected, according to Joseph Bagley, an archaeologist for the city of Boston. Bagley told the Associated Press that a plot outside the home has yielded ceramics, kitchenware, and other telltale signs of the site being occupied as early as the eighteenth century. The archaeologist recounted how researchers found an entire layer approximately 2 feet underground that stretched across the entirety of the site and was practically brimming with finds from the Colonial era. This raises completely new questions for researchers, especially in terms of what exactly was going on during the 1700s. The surprise findings thrilled Rodnell Collins, one of Malcolm X’s nephews who grew up alongside the slain civil rights activist. Noting that the revelation told a much richer story than he was ever aware of and calling it “the history of Boston,” Collins characterized the educational opportunity as an excellent one which aligned with the philosophies of his family and Malcolm. Public records with the city show the Little house was constructed in 1874. Bagley’s team initially assumed that prior to that date the site had been used exclusively for farmland. However, with these new archaeological findings it is quite likely that an even older residence was on the site, or nearby, that dated to the Colonial history of the region. Additionally, a small stone piece found on site may have links to the Native American tribes that had lived in the region before being displaced and driven out by European settlement efforts in the eighteenth century. Currently there’s no way to confirm if the fragment is indeed Native American, nor is it possible to date it. The research team plans to subject the fragment to more rigorous examination at a later date. Unfortunately, the majority of excavation on the site has had to be postponed due to inclement weather, but archaeologists are planning to return by May 16th to resume their investigations. Collins’ family still owns the property, though it has deteriorated badly over the years. However, the family does have hopes to rehabilitate the house in order to open it to the public for tours and other activities. As the last remnant of Malcolm X’s teen and young adult years – other places the civil rights activist lived in the area have long since been torn down – the memories associated with the home need to be shared, Collins said. ]]>

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