The archaeological diggings at the former Boston home of slain civil rights activist Malcolm X revealed some “surprising findings,” with some artifacts proving there was a settlement in the area back in the 1700s.
Although the recent findings aren’t related to the early life of Malcolm X, they are still significant. City archaeologist Joseph Bagley said that researchers were digging outside the former home of the famous activist and recovered kitchenware, ceramics, and other evidence of an older settlement dating as far as the 1700s. Joseph Bagley said that they didn’t expect such artifacts to be found in the area.
He shared that they were able to reach a whole new layer, which is roughly two feet across the whole site where they had been digging. They later hit the area where it is “absolutely filled with stuff from the period.” The archaeologist in charge of the dig added, “So we have this whole new research question, which is: what the heck was going on here in the 18th century?”
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 20, 2016
The reason behind the digging project, which started on March 29 this year, is to shed some light on Malcolm X’s formative years when he began living in Boston. Researchers also wanted to know more about the previous home owners of the Boston house, who are said to be an Irish immigrant family. They lived in the two-and-a-half story home through the Great Depression.
Joseph Bagley shared that as per the city records, the house where the late activist lived was built in 1874. The latest dig’s initial findings suggest that there was likely another home on or near the site, which dates back to the colonial period.
The city archaeologist explained that these kinds of things happen a lot during city digs. Researchers try to look for answers to one thing but they also come across other questions that they have to figure out. He pointed out that it is part of the process.
— CTV News (@CTVNews) April 20, 2016
Aside from the artifacts that date back to the 1700s, Bagley said they were also able to find evidence linked to the childhood of Malcolm X. The group was able to dig up toys among the mishmash of broken dishes as well as bits of jewelry. It’s possible that these findings came from the time when the Boston home was vandalized in the 1970s and items inside the home were tossed into the yard.
Researchers were also able to find a small stone piece that could have dated to the time when Native American tribes inhabited the city. However, it is too early to tell how old the piece is so a closer examination will be made later in the future.
Two-week dig at Malcolm X’s boyhood home in Boston turns up signs of life from the 1700s. https://t.co/CcCTMec2gC pic.twitter.com/dxz7NiIy5g
— Star Tribune (@StarTribune) April 20, 2016
The Dale Street home is the last surviving residence from the teenage and young adult time of Malcolm X, who was born Malcolm Little. The home was in the historical black Roxbury neighborhood during the 1940s. The famous activist moved there in 1941, and his time there was both difficult and transformative.
Accordingly, he was sent to the state prison in 1946 due to a burglary charge. It was there that he was introduced to the teachings of the Nation of Islam. He was raised by his sister Ella Little-Collins after his father died and his mother was committed to a mental institution.
The house is now owned by the nephew of Malcolm X, Rodnell Collins. The Collins family hope to renovate the home and open it for public tours. Rodnell Collins, now 71, will reportedly serve as a guide as he lived in the home as a boy.
[Photo by Bill Sikes/AP Images]