Malcolm X Day Community Celebration held in San Diego

Instructor Dennis Newsome with capoeira students of Os Malandros de estre Toure School of Martial Arts. SLL photo: Gloria Verdieu

Malcolm X Library honored El Hajj Malik Shabazz on May 18, the eve of his 94th birthday. This Fourth Annual Malcolm X Day Community Celebration was organized by the Malcolm X Day Organizing Committee, chaired by San Diego visual artist Kim Phillips-Pea.    

The African American Museum of Fine Arts joined in the celebration by hosting its Third Annual Food Festival in the library’s parking lot, serving the best Southern cuisine and foods of the African Diaspora in San Diego.

The program included informational workshops, artistic displays, poetry, books, pictures and quotes from Malcolm X displayed throughout the library. Local authors, powerful speakers, inspirational performers, community businesses and organizations were given time to speak about what they are doing in the community.

The celebration began with drumming and libations to honor and thank our ancestors, whose shoulders we stand on. Menuhati Kemma’atahb asked everyone to include the names of family members, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, who are our personal unsung heroes and sheroes, during this traditional African ceremony honoring the ancestors.

Phillips-Pea’s purpose every year is to educate our youth about Malcolm X — to dispel the many myths and spoken untruths about Malcolm X.

A large part of the program was devoted to the children. Many youths recited Malcolm X quotes. Students of capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art that incorporates dance, music and acrobatics, filled the stage with demonstrations featuring many youth from the community.

It’s important to remind people that the children of Southeast San Diego named this library after Malcolm X. This was not readily accepted by officials of the city of San Diego. Councilman George Stevens and many other community members pushed the San Diego City Council to acknowledge that the community had spoken and to officially rename Valencia Park Branch Library to Malcolm X Library and Performing Arts Center. The resolution was passed in January 1996.

The Friends of Malcolm X Library presented a pamphlet entitled “Insights of Malcolm X,” a gift to the library from longtime member Eusi Kwayana. Elder Kwayana, who celebrated his 94th birthday in April, will be pleased to know that his pamphlet was presented to the library and community in honor of the 94th birthday of Ancestor Malcolm X.  

One passage in Elder Kwayana’s pamphlet reads: “What is noteworthy about the man, after whom the Southeast District of San Diego renamed a renovated Public Library in 1996, is not the variety of experiences life dealt him. His merit is rather his ability to rise above the negatives, to break free of limitations and take up and sustain a campaign for deep social change and new structure relations of equality hostile to domination.”

The day’s festivities ended with a panel discussion chaired by professor Mychal Odom on the topic, “What It Means to Be a Revolutionary Today.”

On May 19, the San Diego Committee Against Police Brutality screened a film by director John Singleton, who passed away in April, at the Malcolm X Library. While many in the film industry see “Boyz N the Hood” as Singleton’s masterpiece, CAPB choose to show his film “Rosewood,” about the 1923 Rosewood massacre, when a white mob lynched Black residents and destroyed that Florida town.

The film was followed by a discussion of the one hundred years of resistance against racist terror and violence since the Chicago white supremacist riot and Red Summer lynchings of 1919, as well as four hundred years of resistance from 1619, when the first African slaves arrived in Jamestown, Va., to the present.

For more information and photos, check out Friends of Malcolm X Library on Facebook or at friendsofmalcolmxlibrary.org.