By Scotty Reid – Public school teachers in Flushing, New York told students last week that they could not write about Malcolm X for a school assignment because he was “violent” and “bad”.
One technology teacher at Public School 201 forbade 4th grade students from choosing Malcolm X from a list of black historical figures that included Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. When students alerted their parents about the censorship, it set off a firestorm of criticism directed at the school, which has a 43% black student population.
One parent had her son write a report on Malcolm X anyway and then complained to Principal Rebecca Lozada stating, “I’m outraged, as a teacher, you’re imposing your opinion on a bunch of kids.” said Cleatress Brown.
Angel Minor whose son also attends the school but in a different class than the son of Cleatress Brown said she was “very upset” and that “It was disrespectful to our history,”
City Department of Education officials said they were looking into the censorship and spokesperson Devon Puglia said, “Malcolm X is a historical figure and a hero to many New Yorkers that we believe should be celebrated in our schools,”
Malcolm X who would later change his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz after making his Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca spent a good portion of his adult life in New York City where after leaving the Nation of Islam would start the Organization of Afro-American Unity and advocated that Black people practice Pan-Africanism, black self-determination and black self-defense. It was the teachings of Malcolm X on self-defense that partly inspired the founders of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Malcolm X’s views on race relations continued to evolve and change and before his death renounced his statements that white people were devils although he held firm to the belief that Black people must do for self and not be reliant on the US government or non-Black people to do things for them.
The whitewashing of Black history in America has long been a point of contention for conscious Blacks who have charged that too much credit is given to the NAACP and Dr. King for the small gains made for Black people during the civil rights era. They believe that without the threat of violence by groups who would no longer turn the other cheek in the face of state sanctioned racist white mob violence and police brutality, United States government officials would not have been moved to sit at the table and negotiate so-called civil rights and related legislation.
It is also important to remember that during this era, the FBI with help from local police agencies across the United States orchestrated a violent campaign against Black leaders and groups within the civil rights movement and the Black Liberation movement. CointelPro tactics used by FBI director J Edgar Hoover included media propaganda used to demonize and discredit Black leaders in corporate media, framing those in leadership positions with crimes they did not commit and for which many are still in prison to this day as political prisoners of war and state sponsored terrorism that included assassinations like the killing of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
If the parents of Black children want their children to learn true Black history, they cannot expect or assume that it will be taught in America’s school system. Education in America can amount to indoctrination meant to turn Black children into African-Americans who will never grow up to be the leaders of the future movements that will challenge institutionalized racism and America’s continued imperialist policies that Malcolm X and others spoke out against when they were alive. Instead, what the system wants are more children aspiring to be the next Barack Obama or Clarence Thomas and not the next Malcolm X.