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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

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Who Would Have Guessed From the 1940 US Census?

Haley in the United States Coast Guard, 1939 Haley as a young man in the U.S. Coast Guard, U. S. Coast Guard Service Record (212-548), 24 May 1939 Image via Wikipedia  Two men I am very curious about on the 1940 US Census are Alex Haley (1921-1992) and Malcolm X (1925-1965).  Neither were as special at the time as they came to be to the world.  Can you imagine that? Yet, both left a mark on each other, and Malcolm X did so much so that Alex Haley collaborated with him on his autobiography.  See The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  Who would have predicted their paths in life would have crossed?

I think it will be a great opportunity to find Alex Haley (1921-1992) on the 1940 US Census.  I was in high school when our English class was required to read and discuss Roots.  I was so inspired and marveled at the oral history that was passed down to him.

As I have researched my own history, I have never lost the appreciation for what his efforts did in encouraging others to seek out their own ancestry.  I saw how knowledge of my own genealogy could benefit others if I shared it.  My family records became more than who I thought I was and more about who we are as not only African Americans but also how we encompasses a portion of the whole human family.

It became important to me to discern the lessons that life experiences can teach as opposed to dwelling on the awful circumstances so much that the light within me dims.  From the beginning of the saga all the way down to the present day, Alex Haley was the culmination of the joy and sorrows experienced, and he chose to shine.  His work revolutionized family history research as we knew it back then. It became a passion of many, and now technology as fueled that passion.

I want to equally visit the life of Malcolm X (1925-1965).  Malcolm X was born in Nebraska.  He appears as Malcolm Little living as a child in Lansing, Michigan on the 1930 US Census.  By the time the 1940 US Census rolled around, his father had been killed by white supremacists and his mother had been committed to an asylum.  Malcolm went from foster home to foster home.

Malcolm XMalcolm X, Ed Ford, World Telegram staff photographer March 12 1964    Image via Wikipedia Even though Malcolm X made great strides in his life to better himself, the greatest personal transition he made has either gone virtually unnoticed or misunderstood since his assassination in 1965.  Just before his death he took a pilgrimage to Mecca where his eyes were opened.  He had begun to see people of different races as equal from his experiences there and from the manner in which he was treated.  He had begun to share these views with the public.

Alex Haley did a wonderful job of helping us to understand the spiritual conversion of Malcolm X in The Autobiography of Malcolm X .  Using the 1940 US Census to piece these gentleman's lives together from the beginning will help me understand a great deal more about them and their connection.  They are not just famous people to me.  They are people who paid a price and sacrificed something for what they envisioned.  They accomplished a great deal on the journey allowed them, but I suspect they had much more in mind.  Can you tell my curiosity is about to get the best of me?

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