The childhood homes of Malcolm X and the neighborhood where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born are now “endangered,” according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The sites are featured in America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, an annual list compiled by the National Trust.

The annual list has “proven to be one of the Trust’s most effective tools in the fight to preserve America’s historic places,” President Stephanie Meeks said in a teleconference. In its 25 years of existence, the list has trained “a national spotlight on more than 230 architectural and national treasures” and “only a handful have been lost.”

The Malcolm X –Ella Little-Collins House in Boston, Mass., was built in 1874 and is the last known surviving boyhood home of the civil rights leader. It has been largely vacant for the past 30 years and is dilapidated. The National Trust is hoping to raise $750,000 to rehab the house and convert it into living quarters for graduate students studying African American history, social justice, or civil rights.

For the second time in two decades the list also includes the Sweet Auburn Historic District, where Dr. King was born.

The Black enclave thrived during the segregated Jim Crow era, but began to deteriorate in the 1980s. In 1992 the National Historic Landmark appeared on the America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list. But while the residential portion of the neighborhood enjoyed a revival, the commercial side of Auburn Avenue—once designated as “the richest Negro street in the world”—is in danger of further dilapidation or inappropriate development. The trust is hoping to craft a plan to revitalize the area in a manner that honors its iconic status.

Other properties on the endangered list include the Philadelphia gym where boxer Joe Frazier trained for his successful fight against Muhammad Ali, and the Ellis Island Hospital complex, which once comprised the largest U.S. Public Health Service institution in the country.


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO