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The Legacy of Malcolm X, Honored and Celebrated in Rochester

By Tyronda James

Photo by Unseen Histories on Unsplash

The legacy of the great Malcolm X is being honored and celebrated here in the city of Rochester. 

This historic event is being brought by The Friends of Malcolm X Roc, is a coalition of several black centered groups in Rochester, New York.

“Our community needs to continue an impactful and life-affirming celebration of Afrikan, Black & Indigenous people. Malcolm X Weekend is precisely that,” said Diallo Payne, Friends of Malcolm X Roc and Community Justice Initiative member.

“Now is the time to come together for this amazing event.” 

Friends of Malcolm X Roc is a like-minded collective dedicated to uplifting the Legacy of Malcolm X here in Rochester, striving to uplift Malcolm’s legacy through education, Black joy and community building. 

Malcom X History

El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz known as Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska. In his early years, Malcolm experienced extreme racism, spent years in the foster system and served a sentence in jail for larceny and breaking and entering. While in jail Malcolm joined the Nation of Islam and after his release, he became the public face of the organization. He led countless demonstrations and spoke publicly, both nationally and internationally with a focus on empowering Black people. 

Malcolm X with Constance Mitchell. Photo from the Facebook page of the Friends of Malcolm Roc.

Malcolm X’s Rochester History

Malcolm X was close friends with Constance Mitchell, who was the first African American woman to be elected to the Monroe County (New York) Legislature. She and her husband John co-founded Action for a Better Community, Inc and were fierce advocates for education, housing, jobs and equality in Rochester. 

Malcolm X gave his last public final speech in Rochester on February 16, 1965 at the Corn Hill Methodist Church. Five days later, he was murdered as he began a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. He is buried at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.

Malcolm X’s Birthday Honoring Event

There will be a series of 4 events over 3 day beginning May 19, the day of Malcolm’s birth. Each day of the event will focus on a different angle:

* Day 1 focuses on Scholarism in regards to Malcolm X’s intellectual legacy. 

* Day 2 is a Black Arts Reception which will showcase Malcolm inspired visual art pieces, a social network gathering, as well as a meeting of the minds. 

* Day 3 consists of a two part day with the first part being an outdoor family festival and the second part being an artistic showcase of performance talent. 

“This is truly a festival of epic proportions, Malcolm X style,” Payne said.

The goal is to celebrate Malcolm’s life as a modern-day means of empowering Black people, everywhere through his Legacy.  As well as deepen Black Rochesterians and the overall African American understanding and “overstanding” of his legacy, according to the group’s press release.

Organizers say that their hope is that the event is celebrated annually and that it should “ascend to the same level or even exceed the importance of Dr. King’s Birthday.”

For more information, visit the “Friends of Malcolm” Facebook page for more specific information on becoming a vendor, donating and more.