Malcolm X and Modern Community Civil Rights Leaders Honored in Davis

In 2005, the Davis City Council acting on a recommendation from the Davis Human Relations commission passed a proclamation to recognize and celebrate the birthday of Malcolm X on May 19. This proclamation was approved and signed by Mayor Ruth Asmundson.

Among the provisions in that proclamation was a recognition of the role of Islam and an awareness of the importance of Malcolm X to the broader population of America:

“Whereas, Malcolm X has become a legend and a hero for Black and White youth alike. No one Black man has so captured the imagination and allegiance of BLack young people as has Malcolm X.”

When the Human Relations Commission drew up a similar proposal for 2006, however, Don Saylor objected and was joined by Ruth Asmundson and Ted Puntillo in voting against such a recognition. Sue Greenwald and Stephen Souza abstained but did not object.

Bill Calhoun, a long time African American resident and among the first African American teachers in Davis, sat on the HRC. He was outraged by both the decision to oppose a Malcolm X Proclamation and by the way way the Council treated the issue during the meeting.

As a result, last year, Bill Calhoun out of his own pocket, rented the council chambers and presented a movie on the life of Malcolm X that over fifty members of the community attended.

It is unfortunate the Davis City Council has not seen fit to both honor a civil rights leader but also to educate the community about who Malcolm X was and what he stood for. What a lot of people forget is that Malcolm X himself had come to see the errors of some of his ways and embraced a much more peaceful and inclusive message prior to his death, and it were those views that in many ways led to his untimely death.

We have had in this community an incident where the misconceptions about Malcolm X led to very serious consequence. The student who was suspended for that incident was awarded on Saturday evening and he said as the result of the incident and his speech, many students have come up to him and said that this caused them to learn much more about who Malcolm X was and many in fact, had not heard of Malcolm X prior to the incident. This was a seminal figure in American history and we are not educating out children about his role–the good and the bad. The City of Davis has not helped in that educational capacity and the manner in which they pulled this man’s celebration from their long list of recognitions.

This year, Mr. Calhoun was able to secure the Library Blanchard Hall for the event. In addition to the movie, Mr. Calhoun award a number of individuals and groups for civil rights achievements.

This included:

Human Rights Award: Sue Chan
Civil Rights Award: Dean Johansson
Outstanding Student Leader Award: Hui-Ling Malone
Outstanding Courage Award: Jamal Buzayan and Mohamed Buzayan
Lifetime Achievement Award: Richard and Elaine Patterson
Outstanding Student Organization Award: DHS Black Student Union

Upcoming Event:

A reminder that tonight at the DHS Multippurpose Room at 7 PM will be a presentation by Catalysts for Social Justice (formerly Youth in Focus) who will discuss “Growing Up Bricial in Davis.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Civil Rights

120 comments

  1. “What a lot of people forget is that Malcolm X himself had come to see the errors of some of his ways and embraced a much more peaceful and inclusive message prior to his death, and it were those views that in many ways led to his untimely death.”

    I don’t deny in the least that Malcolm X was a brilliant speaker and someone who inspired many African-Americans who were looking for help in the face of racist institutions that had impaired their progress for many years. Everything he did and stood for was not terrible.

    However, Malcolm, who was actually known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz when he died, lived just under 40 years. And for only about 10 months of his life was he ‘inclusive.’ Prior to that, Malcom X was an outspoken rejectionist of the mainstream civil rights movement, and the work of people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. While King and the other southern ministers were preaching love and reconciliation, Malcolm X was preaching just the opposite.

    Therefore, it’s strange that you would emphasize his ‘inclusive message.’

    In 1952, Malcolm X joined the racist and avowedly anti-Semitic Nation of Islam cult — which, it should be emphasized, is not any kind of mainstream Muslim faith — and stayed a part of that group until 1964, acting as a spokesman and spiritual leader for the Nation. For much of his adult life prior to joining the Nation, Malcolm had been a criminal.

    His renunciation of the anti-inclusive, racist nature of the NOI came only 10 months before he was killed, in all likelihood by leaders of the Nation, possibly by Louis Farrakhan.

    As an important public figure for his times, Malcolm X deserves to be studied and understood. His extremism and rejectionism, while never mainstream among black leaders, needs to be understood in the context of the brutal conditions so many black Americans faced in those days. But celebrated? Honored? No. Malcolm X does not deserve to be celebrated, no more than we need to honor or celebrate George Wallace, who ultimately renounced his segregationist message or David Duke, if he ever gets around to renouncing his racist message.

  2. “What a lot of people forget is that Malcolm X himself had come to see the errors of some of his ways and embraced a much more peaceful and inclusive message prior to his death, and it were those views that in many ways led to his untimely death.”

    I don’t deny in the least that Malcolm X was a brilliant speaker and someone who inspired many African-Americans who were looking for help in the face of racist institutions that had impaired their progress for many years. Everything he did and stood for was not terrible.

    However, Malcolm, who was actually known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz when he died, lived just under 40 years. And for only about 10 months of his life was he ‘inclusive.’ Prior to that, Malcom X was an outspoken rejectionist of the mainstream civil rights movement, and the work of people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. While King and the other southern ministers were preaching love and reconciliation, Malcolm X was preaching just the opposite.

    Therefore, it’s strange that you would emphasize his ‘inclusive message.’

    In 1952, Malcolm X joined the racist and avowedly anti-Semitic Nation of Islam cult — which, it should be emphasized, is not any kind of mainstream Muslim faith — and stayed a part of that group until 1964, acting as a spokesman and spiritual leader for the Nation. For much of his adult life prior to joining the Nation, Malcolm had been a criminal.

    His renunciation of the anti-inclusive, racist nature of the NOI came only 10 months before he was killed, in all likelihood by leaders of the Nation, possibly by Louis Farrakhan.

    As an important public figure for his times, Malcolm X deserves to be studied and understood. His extremism and rejectionism, while never mainstream among black leaders, needs to be understood in the context of the brutal conditions so many black Americans faced in those days. But celebrated? Honored? No. Malcolm X does not deserve to be celebrated, no more than we need to honor or celebrate George Wallace, who ultimately renounced his segregationist message or David Duke, if he ever gets around to renouncing his racist message.

  3. “What a lot of people forget is that Malcolm X himself had come to see the errors of some of his ways and embraced a much more peaceful and inclusive message prior to his death, and it were those views that in many ways led to his untimely death.”

    I don’t deny in the least that Malcolm X was a brilliant speaker and someone who inspired many African-Americans who were looking for help in the face of racist institutions that had impaired their progress for many years. Everything he did and stood for was not terrible.

    However, Malcolm, who was actually known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz when he died, lived just under 40 years. And for only about 10 months of his life was he ‘inclusive.’ Prior to that, Malcom X was an outspoken rejectionist of the mainstream civil rights movement, and the work of people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. While King and the other southern ministers were preaching love and reconciliation, Malcolm X was preaching just the opposite.

    Therefore, it’s strange that you would emphasize his ‘inclusive message.’

    In 1952, Malcolm X joined the racist and avowedly anti-Semitic Nation of Islam cult — which, it should be emphasized, is not any kind of mainstream Muslim faith — and stayed a part of that group until 1964, acting as a spokesman and spiritual leader for the Nation. For much of his adult life prior to joining the Nation, Malcolm had been a criminal.

    His renunciation of the anti-inclusive, racist nature of the NOI came only 10 months before he was killed, in all likelihood by leaders of the Nation, possibly by Louis Farrakhan.

    As an important public figure for his times, Malcolm X deserves to be studied and understood. His extremism and rejectionism, while never mainstream among black leaders, needs to be understood in the context of the brutal conditions so many black Americans faced in those days. But celebrated? Honored? No. Malcolm X does not deserve to be celebrated, no more than we need to honor or celebrate George Wallace, who ultimately renounced his segregationist message or David Duke, if he ever gets around to renouncing his racist message.

  4. “What a lot of people forget is that Malcolm X himself had come to see the errors of some of his ways and embraced a much more peaceful and inclusive message prior to his death, and it were those views that in many ways led to his untimely death.”

    I don’t deny in the least that Malcolm X was a brilliant speaker and someone who inspired many African-Americans who were looking for help in the face of racist institutions that had impaired their progress for many years. Everything he did and stood for was not terrible.

    However, Malcolm, who was actually known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz when he died, lived just under 40 years. And for only about 10 months of his life was he ‘inclusive.’ Prior to that, Malcom X was an outspoken rejectionist of the mainstream civil rights movement, and the work of people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. While King and the other southern ministers were preaching love and reconciliation, Malcolm X was preaching just the opposite.

    Therefore, it’s strange that you would emphasize his ‘inclusive message.’

    In 1952, Malcolm X joined the racist and avowedly anti-Semitic Nation of Islam cult — which, it should be emphasized, is not any kind of mainstream Muslim faith — and stayed a part of that group until 1964, acting as a spokesman and spiritual leader for the Nation. For much of his adult life prior to joining the Nation, Malcolm had been a criminal.

    His renunciation of the anti-inclusive, racist nature of the NOI came only 10 months before he was killed, in all likelihood by leaders of the Nation, possibly by Louis Farrakhan.

    As an important public figure for his times, Malcolm X deserves to be studied and understood. His extremism and rejectionism, while never mainstream among black leaders, needs to be understood in the context of the brutal conditions so many black Americans faced in those days. But celebrated? Honored? No. Malcolm X does not deserve to be celebrated, no more than we need to honor or celebrate George Wallace, who ultimately renounced his segregationist message or David Duke, if he ever gets around to renouncing his racist message.

  5. Malcolm X’s father was murdered (tied to train tracks). His mother went insane and was institutionalized. He had the misfortune of being a young Black man in America with no parents.

    He committed crimes, and unlike most convicted criminals, came out of prison a better man. He became well read, and joined the only group that had shown him any love and guidance: the Nation of Islam. He stopped using drugs, and “cleaned up” his lifestyle.

    I don’t condone everything he did, but he should absolutely be honored and celebrated. He is a role model, especially for those who have gone down the wrong path. There is always hope and opportunity for self-improvement.

    While a member of the Nation of Islam, he helped African-Americans organize themselves and led the fight for social justice. Not all African-Americans agreed with the teachings of Dr. King, because the horrors they had experienced prevented them from feeling love for their white “brothers.” The Nation of Islam had a large following because there was a need. They weren’t just a bunch of rowdy criminals. They were people who felt like the fight for justice had to be fought more forcefully.

    As Malcolm X continued his journey through life, he found peace and had experiences that allowed him to accept all kinds of people. His pilgrimage to Mecca was pivotal.

    While it is true that his biggest philisophical changes came late in his life, lets not forget that his life was short. Most people I know say that their wisdom came late in life. He didn’t have the opportunity to grow old.

    His metamorphasis in his short 40 years was amazing by any standards. If you factor in his lack of a family, traumatic experiences, the negative social influences, the social injustices and the fact that he was black man, it is almost a miracle.

    Not only should we remember him, we should teach about him as part of American History. We should have a day to honor him and celebrate his accomplishments. Some districts have chosen to have a holiday in his honor and/or name schools after him (and they aren’t even continuation schools!!).

    We need to broaden our scope here in Davis.

  6. Malcolm X’s father was murdered (tied to train tracks). His mother went insane and was institutionalized. He had the misfortune of being a young Black man in America with no parents.

    He committed crimes, and unlike most convicted criminals, came out of prison a better man. He became well read, and joined the only group that had shown him any love and guidance: the Nation of Islam. He stopped using drugs, and “cleaned up” his lifestyle.

    I don’t condone everything he did, but he should absolutely be honored and celebrated. He is a role model, especially for those who have gone down the wrong path. There is always hope and opportunity for self-improvement.

    While a member of the Nation of Islam, he helped African-Americans organize themselves and led the fight for social justice. Not all African-Americans agreed with the teachings of Dr. King, because the horrors they had experienced prevented them from feeling love for their white “brothers.” The Nation of Islam had a large following because there was a need. They weren’t just a bunch of rowdy criminals. They were people who felt like the fight for justice had to be fought more forcefully.

    As Malcolm X continued his journey through life, he found peace and had experiences that allowed him to accept all kinds of people. His pilgrimage to Mecca was pivotal.

    While it is true that his biggest philisophical changes came late in his life, lets not forget that his life was short. Most people I know say that their wisdom came late in life. He didn’t have the opportunity to grow old.

    His metamorphasis in his short 40 years was amazing by any standards. If you factor in his lack of a family, traumatic experiences, the negative social influences, the social injustices and the fact that he was black man, it is almost a miracle.

    Not only should we remember him, we should teach about him as part of American History. We should have a day to honor him and celebrate his accomplishments. Some districts have chosen to have a holiday in his honor and/or name schools after him (and they aren’t even continuation schools!!).

    We need to broaden our scope here in Davis.

  7. Malcolm X’s father was murdered (tied to train tracks). His mother went insane and was institutionalized. He had the misfortune of being a young Black man in America with no parents.

    He committed crimes, and unlike most convicted criminals, came out of prison a better man. He became well read, and joined the only group that had shown him any love and guidance: the Nation of Islam. He stopped using drugs, and “cleaned up” his lifestyle.

    I don’t condone everything he did, but he should absolutely be honored and celebrated. He is a role model, especially for those who have gone down the wrong path. There is always hope and opportunity for self-improvement.

    While a member of the Nation of Islam, he helped African-Americans organize themselves and led the fight for social justice. Not all African-Americans agreed with the teachings of Dr. King, because the horrors they had experienced prevented them from feeling love for their white “brothers.” The Nation of Islam had a large following because there was a need. They weren’t just a bunch of rowdy criminals. They were people who felt like the fight for justice had to be fought more forcefully.

    As Malcolm X continued his journey through life, he found peace and had experiences that allowed him to accept all kinds of people. His pilgrimage to Mecca was pivotal.

    While it is true that his biggest philisophical changes came late in his life, lets not forget that his life was short. Most people I know say that their wisdom came late in life. He didn’t have the opportunity to grow old.

    His metamorphasis in his short 40 years was amazing by any standards. If you factor in his lack of a family, traumatic experiences, the negative social influences, the social injustices and the fact that he was black man, it is almost a miracle.

    Not only should we remember him, we should teach about him as part of American History. We should have a day to honor him and celebrate his accomplishments. Some districts have chosen to have a holiday in his honor and/or name schools after him (and they aren’t even continuation schools!!).

    We need to broaden our scope here in Davis.

  8. Malcolm X’s father was murdered (tied to train tracks). His mother went insane and was institutionalized. He had the misfortune of being a young Black man in America with no parents.

    He committed crimes, and unlike most convicted criminals, came out of prison a better man. He became well read, and joined the only group that had shown him any love and guidance: the Nation of Islam. He stopped using drugs, and “cleaned up” his lifestyle.

    I don’t condone everything he did, but he should absolutely be honored and celebrated. He is a role model, especially for those who have gone down the wrong path. There is always hope and opportunity for self-improvement.

    While a member of the Nation of Islam, he helped African-Americans organize themselves and led the fight for social justice. Not all African-Americans agreed with the teachings of Dr. King, because the horrors they had experienced prevented them from feeling love for their white “brothers.” The Nation of Islam had a large following because there was a need. They weren’t just a bunch of rowdy criminals. They were people who felt like the fight for justice had to be fought more forcefully.

    As Malcolm X continued his journey through life, he found peace and had experiences that allowed him to accept all kinds of people. His pilgrimage to Mecca was pivotal.

    While it is true that his biggest philisophical changes came late in his life, lets not forget that his life was short. Most people I know say that their wisdom came late in life. He didn’t have the opportunity to grow old.

    His metamorphasis in his short 40 years was amazing by any standards. If you factor in his lack of a family, traumatic experiences, the negative social influences, the social injustices and the fact that he was black man, it is almost a miracle.

    Not only should we remember him, we should teach about him as part of American History. We should have a day to honor him and celebrate his accomplishments. Some districts have chosen to have a holiday in his honor and/or name schools after him (and they aren’t even continuation schools!!).

    We need to broaden our scope here in Davis.

  9. The Malcolm X narrative is a story that should be told to every youngster as they grow up. Malcolm X’s birthday is as good a reason and time as any..I would guess that he would have been outraged to be celebrated and raised to hero-worship level. Rather than “celebrating” Malcolm X’s birthday, call it The Journey of Malcolm X-An American Tale.

  10. The Malcolm X narrative is a story that should be told to every youngster as they grow up. Malcolm X’s birthday is as good a reason and time as any..I would guess that he would have been outraged to be celebrated and raised to hero-worship level. Rather than “celebrating” Malcolm X’s birthday, call it The Journey of Malcolm X-An American Tale.

  11. The Malcolm X narrative is a story that should be told to every youngster as they grow up. Malcolm X’s birthday is as good a reason and time as any..I would guess that he would have been outraged to be celebrated and raised to hero-worship level. Rather than “celebrating” Malcolm X’s birthday, call it The Journey of Malcolm X-An American Tale.

  12. The Malcolm X narrative is a story that should be told to every youngster as they grow up. Malcolm X’s birthday is as good a reason and time as any..I would guess that he would have been outraged to be celebrated and raised to hero-worship level. Rather than “celebrating” Malcolm X’s birthday, call it The Journey of Malcolm X-An American Tale.

  13. Why is it that the Davis Enterprise publishes a columnist that calls mentally disordered people “crazy people” and compares Malcolm X to David Duke? Guess that’s the political philosophy that they want to have associated with the newspaper.

    And people wonder why African Americans in this region have such a dim view of Davis.

    Malcolm X advocated the notion that African Americans should defend themselves against the predations of white people when whites were killing them and brutalizing them in the Deep South.

    Malcolm X also internationalized his message in the last years of his life, and, as did Martin Luther King, a few years later, recognized the role of US imperialism in exploiting people of color around the world through intimidation and violence.

    Along these lines, more recently, George Bush launched a war and killed tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Iraqis in an imperial conflict. Maybe, Rich can get around to saying something about that.

    –Richard Estes

  14. Why is it that the Davis Enterprise publishes a columnist that calls mentally disordered people “crazy people” and compares Malcolm X to David Duke? Guess that’s the political philosophy that they want to have associated with the newspaper.

    And people wonder why African Americans in this region have such a dim view of Davis.

    Malcolm X advocated the notion that African Americans should defend themselves against the predations of white people when whites were killing them and brutalizing them in the Deep South.

    Malcolm X also internationalized his message in the last years of his life, and, as did Martin Luther King, a few years later, recognized the role of US imperialism in exploiting people of color around the world through intimidation and violence.

    Along these lines, more recently, George Bush launched a war and killed tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Iraqis in an imperial conflict. Maybe, Rich can get around to saying something about that.

    –Richard Estes

  15. Why is it that the Davis Enterprise publishes a columnist that calls mentally disordered people “crazy people” and compares Malcolm X to David Duke? Guess that’s the political philosophy that they want to have associated with the newspaper.

    And people wonder why African Americans in this region have such a dim view of Davis.

    Malcolm X advocated the notion that African Americans should defend themselves against the predations of white people when whites were killing them and brutalizing them in the Deep South.

    Malcolm X also internationalized his message in the last years of his life, and, as did Martin Luther King, a few years later, recognized the role of US imperialism in exploiting people of color around the world through intimidation and violence.

    Along these lines, more recently, George Bush launched a war and killed tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Iraqis in an imperial conflict. Maybe, Rich can get around to saying something about that.

    –Richard Estes

  16. Why is it that the Davis Enterprise publishes a columnist that calls mentally disordered people “crazy people” and compares Malcolm X to David Duke? Guess that’s the political philosophy that they want to have associated with the newspaper.

    And people wonder why African Americans in this region have such a dim view of Davis.

    Malcolm X advocated the notion that African Americans should defend themselves against the predations of white people when whites were killing them and brutalizing them in the Deep South.

    Malcolm X also internationalized his message in the last years of his life, and, as did Martin Luther King, a few years later, recognized the role of US imperialism in exploiting people of color around the world through intimidation and violence.

    Along these lines, more recently, George Bush launched a war and killed tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Iraqis in an imperial conflict. Maybe, Rich can get around to saying something about that.

    –Richard Estes

  17. “David Duke, figures you would make an analogy like that. Go ahead I’m sure you will enjoy it.”

    I did not mean to equate David Duke and Malcolm X, even pre-renunciation. There are many differences between them on an individual level, and of course, Malcolm X was a far, far more important historical person with a far larger following.

    However, I do believe that the core message and sinister nature of the NOI cult is very similar to the core message and sinister nature of what Duke stands for.

    Malcolm X, even prior to his very late in life renunciation of the NOI, was not entirely a bad person or a person whose positions were impossible to understand, given his life experiences and the general condition and treatment of black Americans at that time.

    Further, I believe that because of his force as a powerful and articulate speaker, Malcolm X was an important leader, who deserves to be studied and understood.

    But studied and understood are far from being celebrated. I will never approve of the celebration of a person who spent most of his public life advocating racism and anti-Semitism. If others want to celebrate that, they are free to do so.