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date: 06 August 2020

DNA: An Alternative Record of African Historylocked

  • Pardis Sabeti

Extract

Missing historical identity has always plagued African Americans In a dramatic protest against this problem Malcolm Little rejected his American surname and took on X to denote his lost and seemingly irretrievable African last name and the genealogy that went with it He became Malcolm X The transatlantic slave trade one of the largest forced migrations of people in history brought more than ten million Africans to North America Latin America and the Caribbean There in part because of the loss of the cultural institutions that maintained African oral traditions most of their descendants who number now many millions more have only a vague notion that their origins lay somewhere on the African continent Malcolm X wrote in his autobiography that the slave trade made it impossible for an African American to ever know his true family name or even what tribe he was descended from the Mandingos the Wolof ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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