2010-2011 Commentary — 06 June 2011
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We should mark activist’s birthday with a “learning holiday”
Destiny Stewart

Yes, there’s a holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr., and a Black History Month, but what about honoring an activist that fought for change and sacrificed his life by standing up for what he believed in?
Malcolm X, who would have celebrated his 86th birthday on May 19, is the man whom we all heard about in the textbooks, but we are rarely educated about his unique tactics that led African Americans to be more self sufficient and to stand up for themselves by “any means necessary.”
Malcolm X was an African American leader in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. His style of resistance was similar to that of the Black Panther Party. Malcolm X is usually compared to Martin Luther King because they both fought to gain equality, but he came at the problems with a different approach. He persuaded some African Americans that at times peace isn’t always the best solution, especially when the whites around them already felt like they were superior and in control.

Malcolm X persuaded other African Americans to stand up for what they believe in, and is believed to have said, “I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he’s wrong, than the one who comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil.”

“Malcolm X deserves his own holiday because he did like Martin Luther King and other people in the civil rights movement,” said English substitute teacher Michael Shane. “He went beyond his stance in racism, he had a more international outlook on things throughout his life, he wasn’t typical, he started off as a mischievous young man and transformed his life.”

Students agreed with Mr. Shane and stated that Malcolm X’s birthday is important because he wanted equal rights for African Americans.
“Malcolm X tried to change what blacks couldn’t do and gave blacks more courage and independence,” said senior Ernest Blackmon. “He gave African Americans more opportunities and power.”
Malcolm X is an African American icon and his legacy will live on forever. It’s not fair that he isn’t acknowledged equally to other African Americans in the Civil Rights Movement.
Throughout the world Malcolm X’s birthday is celebrated. For instance, at Oakland’s San Antonio Park they have a Jazz Festival in honor of him where young people of all races come together and express themselves through different talents.

At this celebration  the youth do spoken word about violence in the community and the effect it has had on their lives . There is also a dance at the festival dedicated to the Harlem Renaissance, combined with today’s hip hop dance in honor of Malcolm X.

Although we have festivals and different festivities, such as the Jazz Festival at San Antonio Park, across the world in honor of Malcolm X, we should also dedicate Malcolm X’s birthday to a day of unity and togetherness, where different communities unite together and realize it’s not about race, class or religion: It’s about breaking the cycles of oppression to fight for equity with love, courage, and respect for one another.

This holiday could also be a day to educate students about the sacrifices African Americans have made and the contributions they make to the country.

When teachers educate students, it will give young African Americans a sense of hope that there are other African Americans they can look up to and encourage them that they can do anything if they put their mind to it.

African Americans can achieve what Malcolm X and Martin Luther King did; they can transform their lives and live out their dreams. All it takes is determination and motivation, which we can build through education about activism.

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