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Malcolm X nephew to discuss rights leader's life, home in Roxbury

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  February 9, 2011 10:21 AM

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(Associated Press/File)

Malcolm X at a press conference in 1964, a year before he was assassinated.

Rodnell Collins, the nephew of Malcolm X and curator of his teenage Boston home, will discuss his uncle’s life and work along with the historic relevance of the civil rights leader’s former Roxbury residence at a free speaker series event next week.

During the 1940s, Malcolm Little, who later became Malcolm X, lived at 72 Dale St. – now a historic landmark near the city park since named in his honor. Malcolm’s older half-sister and Rodnell’s mother, Ella Lee Little Collins, raised the teenaged Malcolm after his father’s death and his mother’s commitment to a mental hospital.

After Malcolm was assassinated at age 39 while giving a speech in New York in 1965, his half-sister took over the black nationalist organization Malcolm had founded the year prior.

“I think the major impact of Ella's arrival, at least upon me, was that she was the first really proud black woman I had ever seen in my life. She was plainly proud of her very dark skin. This was unheard of among Negroes in those days, especially in Lansing,” Malcolm X said of his half-sister, who died in 1996, and referring to the state capital city of Lansing, Michigan where he lived prior to moving to Boston, according to "The Autobiography of Malcolm X."

Of that move to the Hub, the 1965 best-selling book says, ''No physical move in my life has been more pivotal or profound in its repercussions.”

“Malcolm admired that Ella ran her own business and was a successful, independent city woman,” says an announcement for the upcoming speaking event. “So, what was it like growing up in a household with two strong figures?”

Rodnell Collins will answer that question and others during the talk scheduled for Feb. 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. in Haley House Bakery Café. The event will be co-sponsored by the café and fellow nonprofit Discover Roxbury.

The talk is free with dinner, available to purchase starting at 5 p.m. Seating is on a first-come basis. The event is an installment in a series of Roxbury-related history discussions, including one last month by neighborhood native, former state representative and retired pastor Michael Haynes who spoke about working with Martin Luther King, Jr.

For more information, visit www.haleyhouse.org and www.discoverroxbury.org.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.

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