In honor of the US civil rights leader Malcolm X (1925 – 1965) committing to May 19 in the United States as Malcolm X Day (Malcolm X Day). At least in theory, because in fact this special day still only receives regional attention and importance. And this despite the fact that a motion has been put forward in Congress since 1993 to declare May 19 – similar to Martin Luther King Day on the third Monday in January – a national holiday. So what is Malcolm X Day about and what is the origin of the controversy surrounding this Memorial Day? The calendar of curious holidays from around the world takes a look at the background.
A biographical note on Malcolm X
At this point I deliberately refrain from going into the biographical data of the US civil rights activist in detail. Other sources and authors have already presented this much better in other places (see the list of external links attached below), but a few essential biographical cornerstones are helpful in the context and to understand the discussion about Malcolm X Day.
Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, and converted to Islam while serving a 10-year prison sentence in the late 1940s. During this time he began to contact the Nation of Islam, to whose spokesman he rose over time. Although X, like Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), is seen today as a central figure in the American civil rights movement, he was initially one of the greatest critics of King’s nonviolent integration strategy, which he viewed as a betrayal of the goal of an independent, combative, African-American community . X was killed by 3 assassins with 21 shots during a lecture in the New York borough of Washington Heights on February 21, 1965.
Malcolm X Day: The political discussion about the status of a memorial day
First a short introductory remark on the choice of the date. According to the Anglo-American tradition of celebrating honorary days and memorial days on the respective birthday of a person – and not, as is often the case in Germany, on the day of his death – the supporters of Malcolm X Day have chosen his birthday on May 19th (see also the other Posts in the calendar of curious birthdays ). As an alternative to this, there is also the suggestion to always place this day on the third Sunday in May of each year. However, there is a certain amount of confusion in this regard.
The fact is, however, that the first Malcolm X Day took place on May 19, 1971 in Washington DC and is still celebrated on this date, especially in many schools (including the Malcolm X Elementary School). In addition, the day of remembrance also enjoys the status of a (more or less) official day of remembrance in Berkeley, California, Atlanta and Georgia. But there are also motions and efforts in many other states of the country to declare Malcolm X Day an official holiday.
Always against the background of the aforementioned Martin Luther King Day on the third Monday in January or Frederick Douglass Day on February 14th. These efforts reached their preliminary climax in 1993, when the MP Charles B. Rangel (born 1930) brought motion HJR # 323 to Congress to officially declare May 19 as the nationwide Malcolm X Day. Since then, not much has changed and the debate about the pros and cons of this memorial day takes up more, sometimes less space in the public discourse in the USA.
While the proponents point to Malcolm X’s importance for the Afro-American civil rights movement of the 1950 / 60s and put him on a par with his political adversary Martin Luther King Jr., the opponents see an absurd glorification of a radical who is just beginning his political career have repeatedly called for violence. At this point, I leave the final assessment to everyone.
If that issue is serious, for / the May 19 with the US provides the day of the May sunshine (National May Ray Day) and the day of devil’s food cake (National Devil’s Food Cake Day) at least two calendar alternatives.
With this in mind: Happy Birthday Malcolm Little and a relaxed Malcolm X day to all of you.