What Today's Civil-Rights Activists Owe to Malcolm X

By Tigue, Kristoffer | MinnPost.com, May 20, 2016 | Go to article overview

What Today's Civil-Rights Activists Owe to Malcolm X


Tigue, Kristoffer, MinnPost.com


Thandisiwe Jackson-Nisan thinks Malcolm X's political legacy doesn't get enough recognition. She's hoping to change that. "We hear about Martin Luther King a lot but we don't hear as much about Malcolm," she said. "I've met children who've never heard who Malcolm X was."

This Saturday, Jackson-Nisan along with a handful of other Twin Cities' civil rights activists and community members are hosting the third annual Minnesota Malcolm X Conference to celebrate the civil rights leader's life and discuss his ideas and philosophies.

This year's conference, being held at Minneapolis North Community High School Booster Club in north Minneapolis, will focus on the Organization of Afro-American Unity -- an African American civil rights organization established by Malcolm X shortly before his assassination in 1965. The event will feature a discussion with a panel of Twin Cities black leaders and activists, followed by a series of workshops and performance art.

"I'm super excited about it," Jackson-Nisan said. "This is to honor and reflect on the political legacy of Malcolm X."

People tend to get caught up in Malcolm X not endorsing non- violence like MLK, Jackson-Nisan said, which is why she believes people tend not to celebrate him as much. But as a civil rights leader, and a contributor to African American heritage, she said, his beliefs are still very much at the forefront of today's civil rights activism.

Modern-day relevance

Nekima Levy-Pounds, a St. Thomas Law Professor and president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, said Malcolm X was unapologetic when he spoke about giving power back to the black community, both with his actions and words.

She believes his teachings and mantra of "By any means necessary," have influenced many civil rights activists' work today, including her own. Levy-Pounds has participated in several high- profile demonstrations over the last few years, including disrupting freeway traffic, shutting down the Mall of America and occupying the land outside Minneapolis' Fourth Precinct Police Station for three weeks after the shooting of an unarmed black man by police. …

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