Malcolm X’s legacy influences today’s youth: Education is key

Five school buses, one charter bus and a dozen or so vehicles trekked from the Harlem State Office Building up ...


Five school buses, one charter bus and a dozen or so vehicles trekked from the Harlem State Office Building up to Ferncliff Cemetery this past Tuesday morning for the 50th annual pilgrimage to Malcolm X’s and Betty Shabazz’s burial site. After the half-hour drive up to Hartsdale, many activists who have been immeasurably influenced by Malcolm X’s legacy advocated a common theme during their presentations.

“Malcolm left all of us a great example so we can have a better tomorrow,” said educator Dr. Leonard Jeffries as he began the ceremony with libations, directing his message to the several hundred students present. “Education is the key to the future.”

“I want to address all the youth in the audience, all you young fruit for tomorrow, you’re our future,” said Malcolm X’s nephew, Rondell Collins. “It’s important that you look around at your elders and realize that you need to tap into that source. Sacrifice is what our duty is to you. Learn; education is key. Tomorrow belongs to you. You’re here to grab the future.”

Next, Sister activist Iyaluua Ferguson advised about the importance of education and the relation between generations. She stated, “If we don’t understand the legacy of those who came before us, then we’re lost. This is the first year my husband [Herman] is not here, although he’s here in spirit. Please keep it going. Let’s build our movement.”

Next, the event’s moderator, professor James Small, said, “The Sons of Africa are the children of the O.A.A.U. When we’re gone, they’ll continue on … not just the ceremony, what it implies.

“Malcolm made the choice—freedom or death! The life that he gave us, the values that he left us with, the courage that he set the example with, that’s what lives in the rest of us. All of us are Malcolm X because he was every ancestor that ever stood up against tyranny, and that’s what we have to do if you want your children and grandchildren to be free.”

Dr. Rosalind Jeffries followed up by saying, “We stand unified as elders to say to you youths that you must be educated about the life of Malcolm X, not by what you read in the newspapers about him, but by what you learn about him from us. Look to make significant contributions to the generation that will be coming up under you. We want you to be encouraged.”

Sister Dequi Kion-Sadiki, chairperson of the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, declared, “We all stand on the shoulders of people who have given their livers, made tremendous sacrifices, have done the work, laid down a blueprint. Not that we do the exact same thing, but that we all do something in the name of freedom, justice and liberation for our people. We must prepare our children for the next seven generations. We have to do the work. I’m so glad to see all these children. I love you young people!”

Her husband, Sekou Odinga, mentioned how he attended the first three pilgrimages with Malcolm X’s sister, Ella Collins, before his circumstances drastically changed.




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