NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–Born Malcolm Little and best known as Malcolm X, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was a faith leader and activist who participated in various human rights movements advocating for the prosperity and welfare of Black people and rejecting ideas of racism, capitalism and inequality.
February 21 marked 50 years since the Malcom X was assassinated in New York City, and supporters in New Brunswick are planning to hold an event in his memory.
He is rememberd for for his dedication to Islam and as one of the most influential leaders in American history, dedicated to delivering justice and spreading the truth.
Tuesday, February 24 at 7pm, Rutgers University will be home to a panel discussion topics in memory and in honor of the late faith leader and activist relating to law, philosophy and the current civil rights movement, hosted by the Rutgers Graduate Muslim Student Association (GMSA).
This event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served. It will be held in the at the Graduate Student Lounge, located behind Au Bon Pain at 126 College Avenue, in the same building as the Rutgers Student Center
Professor Bernard K. Freamon of Seton Hall University will be speaking on Islam, Human Equality and the legacy of Malcolm X.
Professor Freamon teaches Islamic Legal History and various courses on legal history and philosophy, human rights and professional responsibility.
Also speaking on Tuesday is Shaykh Muhammad Heshaam Jaaber, the son of Shaykh Heshaam Jaaber, a contemporary of Malcolm X who led the janazah, the Islamic funeral rites after he was assaninated.
Shaykh Heshaam Jaaber also takes credit for being one of the few men who helped convince Malcolm X to convert to traditional Islam from the Nation of Islam.
"We fundamentally hope to celebrate Malcolm X’s legacy and contribution to civil rights and social justice in America," GMSA President Simoni Lovano told New Brunswick Today. "When looking at his legacy, it is important to examine the intersection between his religion, Islam, and his struggle for justice."
"Ultimately, we need to address how Malcolm X helped contribute to the Civil Rights era and how he continues to influence the fight for social justice and movements for racial equality in America today. We have come far but we still have a long way to go."
In 1964, about a year before his death, Malcolm X converted from the Nation of Islam to traditional Islam after making a pilgrimage, or religous journey to city of Mecca, located in Saudia Arabia, the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad.
Lovano tells New Brunswick Today that Malcolm X was quoted to have said the following:
“America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white, but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all together, irrespective of their color."
"In the African-American community at the time, the Nation of Islam was much more prominent than orthodox Islam and the Nation of Islam was openly hateful towards the comparably small Muslim community," explained Lovano.
"After Malcolm X was killed as a martyr, it was very dangerous for any Imam to come forth to lead his funerary rites at the risk of death threats, but Shaykh Jaaber had enough courage and love for Malcolm to make the decision to lead the funeral."
After the discussion, there will be spoken word by a current graduate student Jaweerya Mohammad.
The piece, according to Lovano will tie in "Malcolm X’s struggle for justice with current struggles and with the changing narrative in America."