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Seventh Child: A Family Memoir of Malcolm X: SIGNED BY AUTHOR: Collins, Rodnell P.;Bailey, A. Peter

Seventh Child: A Family Memoir of Malcolm X: SIGNED BY AUTHOR

Collins, Rodnell P.;Bailey, A. Peter

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ISBN 10: 1559724919 / ISBN 13: 9781559724913
Published by Birch Lane Press, 1998
Condition: As New Hardcover
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## AS NEW book is clean, crisp, unclipped and unmarked. First Edition. First printing. Full number line. Dust jacket is Fine with a little age toning and pulling top spine. Illustrated with B&W photographs. SIGNED by author Rodnell P. Collins on half title page (All the best.). No marks in or on book. NOT A REMAINDER. Not ex library. Not book club. Dust jacket protected in a crystal clear MYLAR cover. 238 pages. Bubble wrapped and custom boxed for standard shipping. Gift wrapped free. Appears unread, unused. SIGNED COPY. As New First Edition. Bookseller Inventory # 001409

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Seventh Child: A Family Memoir of Malcolm X:...

Publisher: Birch Lane Press

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:As New

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Presenting an insider's study of the African-American leader, this informative portrait provides an in-depth look at the life of Malcolm X as told by his sister, Ella Little Collins, and nephew. 50,000 first printing.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:


It was the summer of 1985. Over one hundred members of the far flung Little family had gathered together in Memphis, Tennessee, for its first ever family reunion. A family member who was present described it as an awesome, electrifying, and unforgettable moment when Oscar V. Little, the convener of the reunion and the family's unofficial historian, announced that his extensive research, done at the archives in Washington, D.C., and Virginia, had finally revealed the name of the Little ancestor whom a few of us knew vaguely as an African kidnapped and delivered into slavery in South Carolina in the early 1800s. "His name was Ajar," Uncle Oscar told our stunned family members, "and he was brought to enslavement in South Carolina in 1815." Uncle Oscar told them that he first heard the name Ajar from an elderly Chicago-based relative named Tempie Little. She was the daughter of one of the twenty-two children born to Tony (Ajar's son) and Claire Little, Ma and Uncle Malcolm's great-grandparents. Cousin Tempie Little was a member of the Little family branch that married into the Binon family in the Southwest. She told Uncle Oscar that she had often heard her parents speak of a great grandfather named Ajar.

The Littles could hardly wait to pass on the incredible revelation to family members who were not present in Memphis. One of those was my mother, Ella Little Collins. Because of illness, she had been unable to attend the reunion. "When I heard about Ajar," Ma later said, "one of my first thoughts was I wish Malcolm was here to share in our joy. We finally had a name for the great-great-grand father I had mentioned to him but whose name I didn't know. With Malcolm's love of history and his deep awareness of the crucial role of family, he would have enjoyed every minute of it."

NOT only did Uncle Oscar do extensive research on the Littles' family history, he has also been the driving force behind family reunions. Following the first one in Memphis in 1985, others were held in Chicago (1986), Los Angeles (1987), Washington, D.C. (1989), Montgomery, Alabama (1991), New York City (1993), Orlando, Florida (1995), and Jackson, Mississippi (1997).

Like thousands of other black folks, Uncle Oscar was inspired to seek out family history after seeing Roots, Alex Haley's record-smashing television program, in 1977. "Not too long after seeing Roots," Uncle Oscar explained, "I visited my aunt Florence Scott, in Memphis. While there, I had a long conversation with her and one of my uncles, Elgin Scott, whom I thought was long-since dead. It didn't make sense to believe that a family member was dead because we had lost contact with each other. My commitment to doing research on our family, and later the family reunions, both began with those conversations in the late 1970s."

"It's ironic," noted Ma, "that Oscar was inspired by Alex Haley's Roots, because I'm convinced that Haley was at least partially inspired to write Roots because of his conversations with Malcolm about the importance of history and family when they were working on the autobiography."

Uncle Malcolm noted in his autobiography that when he joined the Nation of Islam in 1952, "The Muslims' X symbolized the true African family name that he never could know. For me, my X replaced the white slave master name of 'Little' which some blue-eyed devil named Little had imposed upon my paternal forebears. . . ." Some people have wrongly interpreted this as Malcolm's rejection of Little family members. "It's extremely important to remember that Malcolm rejected the name dumped on us by slave owners, not our ancestors," Ma said. "Our ancestors were proud black people who, though enslaved physically, were never enslaved mentally."

One of those proud ancestors, the man whose name Uncle Oscar revealed to us that summer evening, was the African called Ajar. "We don't know how he got that name," Uncle Oscar noted, "but after going through many documents, I am convinced that that's the name he was known by." Ma, who by that time was an orthodox Muslim, believed that Ajar may have had a Muslim name, maybe something like Haja, which was then deliberately or unknowingly mispronounced by his enslaver.

Uncle Oscar told us that Ajar possibly came from the Bambara people of Nali, West Africa, the home region for many Africans who ended up enslaved in South Carolina. According to historian Dr. Kennell Jackson in his book American Is Me, South Carolina enslavers preferred "Africans from the Gambia region because [they] were useful in rice farming." He wrote that they often advertised for "a Talle {sic} able People."

Ajar's West African beginnings before ending up in South Carolina also conform to an observation made by Frederic Bancroft in his book Slave Trading in the Old South. Noted Bancroft, "Cargoes of Africans brought to Charleston, South Carolina, were variously advertised as ,very prime Congo slaves,' or 'prime Mandingo Africans,' or 'Choice Gold Coast Negroes,' or 'prime Windward Coast Africans.'" It's hard to believe that those placing such ads were describing human beings, not livestock. But that was the reality-and the inhumanity of the times.

Ajar, during the brutal trip across the Atlantic Ocean, must have shared the feelings expressed by Olaudah Equiano, another African kidnapped and enslaved in the United States. Equaino was kidnapped as an adolescent in 1756. In 1789 he wrote a book, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, the Afican. in which he noted that during the trip across the Atlantic Ocean, "I was now persuaded that I had gotten into a world of bad spirits and that they were going to kill me." When reading this statement, I thought that bad spirits are the same as devils, so the labeling of white supremacists as devils didn't begin with Uncle Malcolm and the Nation of Islam. Brother Olaudah Equiano did so in 1789. It's for certain that Ajar and millions of other Africans enslaved in the misnamed "New World" shared his belief of having gotten into a world of bad spirits that would kill them.

Ajar was delivered into a world of bad spirits in which an enslaver could advertise in a respectable Charleston, South Carolina, newspaper the sale of fifty Africans whom he had "purchased for stock and breeding Negroes, and to any Planter who particularly wanted them for that purpose, they are a very choice and desirable gang." After hearing about Ajar from Ma, I recalled a trip made to the Goree Islands, off Senegal, West Africa, in 1978. The islands are one of the Sites where African men, women, and children were held before being put on the ships taking them to America. I met an elderly African caretaker who, at my request (I didn't want to share the experience with the mostly white tourists), gave me a private tour of the sites. My most vivid and lasting memory is of the cells where children were kept. I could see scratches they had made on the walls with their fingernails while in a state of sheer desperation and fear. The cells for adults were barely large enough for crawl space and contained scratches made by horror-stricken Africans. The old man told me that bones are sometimes still found in the shallower water where people had drowned themselves rather than board the ships. Every time I think of that scene, even twenty years later, overwhelming feelings of empathy for our ancestors engulf me. Intense feelings of anger and loathing emerge for those who put Ajar and millions of other African men, women, and especially children through that hell.

Ajar must have found such people the true reincarnation of bad spirits or devils. Family lore, beginning with the stories told by his son, Tony, describes Ajar as a rebellious African, one "who was never anybody's nigger." Tony, to whom Ajar passed on his pride as an African and his skills as a carpenter, said that one day his father mysteriously disappeared. "We heard that through family oral history," Ma told me, "that was passed on to us by my grandfather, Papa John, and reinforced by Oscar's research. He may have run away, but it is more generally believed that he was sold or traded away by his enslaver because of his rebellious nature." Sale or threat Of sale was one of the enslavers' most effective and intimidating ways to control African captives in the United States, according to historian Dr. Norrece T. Jones, of Virginia Commonwealth University. in his book Born a Child of Freedom, Yet a Slave. Focusing on enslavement in South Carolina, Jones writes that "much emphasis has been placed on cruel lynchings and executions to the neglect of psychological forces frequently more devastating in their consequences and more effectual in spurring 'good' behavior. Slaves' fear of being separated from family members and loved ones, for example, made- the role of 'miscreant' or 'incorrigible' slaves the most powerful long-term technique of control-short of death-that masters possessed. . . ." Over a century later, words such as "incorrigible" and other similar invectives would be used by white supremacists to describe Ajar's rebellious great-great-grandson Malcolm Little, who became Malcolm X.

After the disappearance of his father, Tony was sold to the Allen Little family, then based in South Carolina. When the Littles left South Carolina to explore growing economic opportunity in neighboring Georgia, they took Tony and his family with them. Because of his skills as a carpenter, Tony was considered very valuable property by Allen Little as well as by other members of the white Little clan of Talbotton, Georgia. Equally valuable because of her cooking skills was Tony's wife, Clarrie, whose ancestry was a mixture of African and Native American. She is said to have always privately referred to whites as thieves because they had stolen the land of her Native American ancestors. One of the key (and most vicious) figures in that land theft was President Andrew Jackson, who before and during his presidency was famous - or infamous, depending on one's viewpoint - as an "Indian fighter."

In the early and mid-1800s, Georgia was wide open for exploitation by avaricious people, such as Allen Little and his brother Thomas. Native Americans had been driven completely off the land they had lived on and shared for centuries. The state legislature had also passed a law requiring that persons coming into Georgia to purchase land have at least one enslaved African for every fifty acres of land purchased. Land could also be acquired by land grants or lottery.

Allen Little was the first in his family to take advantage of an opportunity to become a kind of feudal lord in Georgia, eventually owning twelve hundred acres in Talbot County, where he built his fortune. In A Rockaway in Talbot. Travels in an Old Georgia County, William H. Davidson wrote: "Allen Little, an early settler and wealthy planter of Baldwin County, Georgia, owned a fine plantation in Talbot County. Around Milledgeville, his extensive farms. many slaves, profitable business dealings, country homes and a town house, made him a man of influence during the antebellum era. . . . He began investing in land about three miles north of the town, brought and traded slaves, and owned a hotel in Milledgeville later known as the Wayne Hotel." One of the Africans enslaved by Allen was Ajar's son, Tony.

Thomas Little followed his brother to Georgia, where he also acquired land and enslaved numerous Africans. Davidson mentioned a revealing situation in which Thomas Little's son, Dr. William G. Little, gave "a gift of love and affection for his parents of a certain Negro girl, Charlotte, 15 years of age, and her future increase." In other words, Thomas Little and his wife accepted as "a gift of love and affection" from their son a fifteen-year-old African girl and any children she might have in the future. "No wonder Olaudah Equiano described such people as bad spirits and Malcolm described them as devils," Ma said angrily.

Through the years, the white Littles provided Georgia with numerous public officials, southern belles, Confederate soldiers, lawyers, and other professionals. One of the white Littles helped draft the petition for the Confederate government, and for a period served in that government's legislative body. However, after the Civil War their fortunes declined considerably, having been based so much on the enslavement of African people.

Because of their skills Tony and Clarrrie were spared being sold at one of the auctions held periodically by the white Little enslavers. Those skills had made Tony and Clarrie what their great-grandson was to later refer to scornfully as "house Negroes." "They may have worked in the Big House," said Ma, "but from everything I heard from our grandfather, they didn't have the typical house-slave mentality, because most of all they were Ajar's children."

The same skills that enabled them to survive enslavement also served them well after the Civil War. Following emancipation and liberation, Tony and Clarrie remained in Taylor County, mostly in the towns of Reynolds and Butler. Reynolds, according to a history compiled by the Reynolds Women's Club, was "first settled by wealthy Planters, who intended that it should be the Seat of Government for Taylor County, organized in 1852." They took Little as a family name from sheer necessity. When former enslaved Africans wanted to purchase land from the new government, they were asked. "Where did you come from?" Tony and Clarrie's response was "Master Little's plantation ... .. Your owner was Little, so you are Tony and Clarrie Little," declared the government official. That may help to explain why Malcolm so adamantly rejected the Little name when he joined the Nation of Islam.

Working independently, Tony was able to care for his large family, now grown to twenty-two children, including Uncle Malcolm's grandfather, Pa John. He worked for blacks and whites in the area. One of his main sources of work was building black churches in Taylor and Talbot Counties. He also began the Little tradition of purchasing land whenever possible. "By purchasing land," Ma said, "the Littles were able to avoid the vicious trap of sharecropping. When Malcolm later spoke of the importance of our people owning land, he was reflecting a belief that had long been in our family."

For over 150 years, black Littles have lived in and around the small towns of Butler and Reynolds, Georgia. They married Into families named Miller, Sealy, Seacey and Durham. Few permanently moved away from the familiarity of family and neighbors before the 1920s. However, during that decade, spurred by an Increase in white supremacist violence and a total lack of economic opportunity, many members of the Little family and other relatives moved to the North and West. A sizable number, including Ma, ended up in Boston. Ma never forgot her childhood and teenage years living among the huge Little clan in Taylor and Talbot Counties. "I can say with certainty that my strong sense of pride and connection to my people, like that of my father, Earl Little Sr., was implanted during those years among our people in rural Georgia," Ma said. "Unfortunately, Malcolm didn't have the personal experience of living among our extended family on his father's or mother's side like that, but he got at least a glimpse of what it was ...

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