Do We Need a Malcolm X Day?

by Thembi Ford

Writer and cultural critic Toure has spoken on just about every aspect of black culture in recent months as he’s made the promotional rounds for his latest book Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness. Toure is a difficult person to agree with on every single thing (and has often straight up made me annoyed) he raises some interesting points in his latest post for Time Magazine, “We Need a Malcolm X Day.” It’s tempting to presume that Toure’s stance will be one of intentional controversy and contrarianism, but the way he explains the merits of a Malcolm X Day is hard to dismiss.

Malcolm ended his life rejecting anti-whiteness and nationalism in favor of a bold multiculturalism that was and is still willing to welcome anyone into his international interfaith anti-oppression movement: to judge by creed and not by race. He grew to understand it took all types to make the human family complete and explicitly rejected racial hatred and espoused a universal law of justice. He was a man who challenged the status quo in necessary ways, who was a public intellectual activist and a proponent of voting rights who believed in using the electoral system to achieve meaningful change. And more, Malcolm was someone who saw himself as a global citizen, traveling and taking his critique of America to the rest of the world and treating America like the global citizen it is. This country is special in part because we are composed of people who relatively recently came from somewhere else and Malcolm fully embraced the diasporic nature of Americanness and thought of himself as a member of the world community. All of this would be celebrated on Malcolm X Day.

I’m sure that even the headline to this post made you say “maybe, but America is never going to give us one,” but let’s think about things a bit further because even using the idea of a Malcolm X Day as a straw-man for addressing all that ails this country is helpful.

Toure’s idea that Americans need a symbol of global citizenship that represents the “diasporic nature of Americanness,” is intriguing. I often think that one of the largest problems with race relations in America is our failure to recognize what a young, experimental country we are and how — regardless of ethnicity — we all ultimately have a disconnect from a motherland (yes, even Native Americans have also had their homelands taken away by “America.”). Whether our inclusion in this experiment was by ancestral force or choice, the American identity is built around the idea that we’re all different and here to build a “melting pot.” Doesn’t refusing to honor that concept in a meaningful, uniquely American way expose how readily some forms of Americanness are accepted as truly American while others are not?

The idea of a Malcolm X Day is probably too far-fetched; perhaps there will be another American holiday honoring a black person, but I doubt it. More than anything, so many people still see Malcolm as a dangerous racist whose religion and tactics are the antithesis of racial harmony. Until that image changes there is no hope for a national movement to honor him, but the idea of it is still interesting.

What do you think? Will there ever be a Malcom X Day? Do we need one?

  • SassyFrassy

    I do think we need one, but I don’t think it would ever be implemented on a national scale. But that does not mean that we, as a community, could not organize and observe one. Personally, I am thinking of Malcolm when I am off of work on President’s Day.

    The nation does not recognize Juneteenth, but African Americans celebrate it on our own. There’s nothing stopping us from doing the same for Malcolm. At the very least, we could take to our Twitter accounts or Facebook pages and post his quotes, either on his birthday in May or on the date of his assassination in February. We don’t need a sanctioned day off to honor him, or anyone else.

  • iQgraphics

    First of all, a “Malcolm X” day would warrant some of those hood flyers mentioned by “Dirt” on another post.
    I can see it now…. “Malcolm XXX” Bashment. Shortest Shorts wins a door prize…
    Something simple minded…

    Second, OMG, On a United States of America Calendar? Nope. That’s never going to happen. I do not wish for the US to placate me with a day for one of our heroes that “they” slain.

  • iQgraphics

    We don’t need a sanctioned day off to honor him, or anyone else.

  • African Mami

    No. Obama day is necessary!

  • kidole

    Being black + Muslim doesn’t make Malcolm a great candidate for a national holiday in this country. I totally agree w/sassyfrassy. Not all Americans share the same history or story in this country. We know what Malcolm X meant to our community and if other’s acknowledge him than great. If they don’t, well that shouldn’t stop us from honoring him.

    I love that Malcolm gained notoriety through the NOI’s principles, but he wasn’t afraid to expand his mind, seek knowledge, and change his platform. Not many people, especially public figures are that open and prideless.

  • malik hemmans

    really?? obama day??

  • malik hemmans

    agreed because a lot of people recognize king day as an opportunity to get a day off from work blacks are probably the only one who celebrate it

  • African Mami

    yes. Obama day!

    I’m just being sarcastic. I do not see a reason for Malcom X day, or Rosa Parks or any other black/minority person day! The ones already there are enough.

  • Guest

    we don’t need a malcolm x day, we need the malcolm x revolution-look at how many missing black women and not one media story, yet nancy grace would kick up a storm to save even a missing white kitten.

  • shug avery

    yes. but we cannot have a malcolm day before we have a harriet tubman day, after all, she freed a bunch of black folks (physically) and by any means necessary (shot gun style).

  • Guest

    no we need a malcolm x revolution-just look at how any black women are missing and not one word from the supposedly liberal media, yet if a white kitten is missing nancy grace goes on the warpath

  • jamesfrmphilly

    we need for some folk to remember what the brother has said……

  • Priceless34

    They would never allow this to happen. But why do we need them to create holidays to celebrate ou leaders. That is what is wrong with us now…waiting for them.

  • Princess P

    Let me just saw this brother was brilliant! I just finished teching his autobiography to my class and they were captivated from beginning to end. I wish this was a required reading for so many at risk youth, because my kids could relate to all the aspects of his life before he found Islam.

    I know I’d be the first to have my students celebrate it, jumping up screaming “I am Malcolm X!”

  • Mr Jay

    Malcolm IS my hero and I don’t need corporate America to co-sign or give it’s approval. I have the highest regard for MLK but it truly irritates me to hear constant references to what we are doing with “his” dream.

  • Isis

    Yes but not for the reasons Toure stated. I love me some Malcolm

  • Kacey

    It’ll just turn into another day for:
    Kids stay home and don’t understand why;
    Sleazy retailers to sell us more crap we don’t need or can afford;
    White people to point to as another reason why we should stop complaining!

  • gryph

    we don’t need a malcolm x day, we need more malcolm x-like courage and brilliance.

  • Tobias

    To truly capture the act of transformation wouldn’t it be El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz Day?

  • gryph

    a bunch? about 300 hundred…i guess that’s a bunch. granted there were over 5 milion enslaved afro-americans at the time.

    but yeah, there should be a harriet tubman day before a malcolm x day.

    i wonder what’s the point though of having these people recognized by the nation when black people themselves hardly recognize them by embodying their spirits?

    let’s not put the cart before the horse.

  • NY’s Finest

    I would love if there was a Malcolm X day, but it’ll never happen. Forty-seven years after his death and his name still sends chills down the spines of white people, I still remember all the dirty and baffled looks I got from them when I was a teenager reading his autobiography on the bus or on the train.

  • Knowledge

    The truth of Malcolm X’s legacy is only appreciated by Blacks in the African Heritage Community. Unfortunately, a holiday (signifying our respect for him) will not receive the serious consideration it deserves, on the grounds of merit. As evidence, we offer the fact that Regressives refuse to support Dr MLK Jr’s Holiday, opting to acknowledge the confederate commander-in-chief (Robert E Lee) instead. In point of fact, the African Heritage Community should not need or want other ethnicity’s concurrence on its respect for Malcolm X. Many of us put him ahead of MLK Jr., no disrespect intended.Malcolm X is uniquely ours;

  • BlacknAmazed

    OH…I can’t comment on Tourresha….LOL

  • I`am not MAD

    Once more you folks just have to run from the big picture .Dr. CARTER WOODSON give US
    Black History Week & the Community turn it into A Month Long Celebration of the
    Ancestors.Talk to your Grand MOM`s & DAD`S.and other folks older then 3
    Score.Then go to a bookstore,library,The internet, and talk with one another.
    this way you can put Mr. Ford back inside his box….. Put iron into your words &
    Have a great day….

  • fufuandoreos

    TOURE just gets on my last nerve.

  • fufuandoreos

    I like your reminder, Thembi, of how young America is and how we are still changing. Are we growing up, though? Not enough to recognize Malcolm without an uproar.

  • nieshha

    When I lived in Berkeley California we had Malcolm X day. I worked at the library and we were closed that day. Am I the only one from the bay who experienced this?

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