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Monday, May 21, 2007

Malcolm X and Modern Community Civil Rights Leaders Honored in Davis

In 2005, the Davis City Council acting on a recommendation from the Davis Human Relations commission passed a proclamation to recognize and celebrate the birthday of Malcolm X on May 19. This proclamation was approved and signed by Mayor Ruth Asmundson.

Among the provisions in that proclamation was a recognition of the role of Islam and an awareness of the importance of Malcolm X to the broader population of America:
"Whereas, Malcolm X has become a legend and a hero for Black and White youth alike. No one Black man has so captured the imagination and allegiance of BLack young people as has Malcolm X."
When the Human Relations Commission drew up a similar proposal for 2006, however, Don Saylor objected and was joined by Ruth Asmundson and Ted Puntillo in voting against such a recognition. Sue Greenwald and Stephen Souza abstained but did not object.

Bill Calhoun, a long time African American resident and among the first African American teachers in Davis, sat on the HRC. He was outraged by both the decision to oppose a Malcolm X Proclamation and by the way way the Council treated the issue during the meeting.

As a result, last year, Bill Calhoun out of his own pocket, rented the council chambers and presented a movie on the life of Malcolm X that over fifty members of the community attended.

It is unfortunate the Davis City Council has not seen fit to both honor a civil rights leader but also to educate the community about who Malcolm X was and what he stood for. What a lot of people forget is that Malcolm X himself had come to see the errors of some of his ways and embraced a much more peaceful and inclusive message prior to his death, and it were those views that in many ways led to his untimely death.

We have had in this community an incident where the misconceptions about Malcolm X led to very serious consequence. The student who was suspended for that incident was awarded on Saturday evening and he said as the result of the incident and his speech, many students have come up to him and said that this caused them to learn much more about who Malcolm X was and many in fact, had not heard of Malcolm X prior to the incident. This was a seminal figure in American history and we are not educating out children about his role--the good and the bad. The City of Davis has not helped in that educational capacity and the manner in which they pulled this man's celebration from their long list of recognitions.

This year, Mr. Calhoun was able to secure the Library Blanchard Hall for the event. In addition to the movie, Mr. Calhoun award a number of individuals and groups for civil rights achievements.

This included:

Human Rights Award: Sue Chan
Civil Rights Award: Dean Johansson
Outstanding Student Leader Award: Hui-Ling Malone
Outstanding Courage Award: Jamal Buzayan and Mohamed Buzayan
Lifetime Achievement Award: Richard and Elaine Patterson
Outstanding Student Organization Award: DHS Black Student Union

Upcoming Event:

A reminder that tonight at the DHS Multippurpose Room at 7 PM will be a presentation by Catalysts for Social Justice (formerly Youth in Focus) who will discuss "Growing Up Bricial in Davis.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting