Celebrating Malcolm X’s birthday in Omaha

The Malcolm X Memorial Foundation held a birthday luncheon Thursday.
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 5:00 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - On this day in 1925, a Black child was born who would grow up to be known worldwide.

The Malcolm X Memorial Foundation held a birthday luncheon for the city’s native son. Thursday is the start of a four-day celebration of Malcolm’s birthday.

The Malcolm X visitor center jammed back for the civil rights leader’s birthday luncheon, today all were reminded that Malcolm was born here in Omaha during a very stressful time period for Black folks.

“He was raised with parents who were civic-minded people they were here shortly before he was born and shortly after the lynching of Will Brown so the tension in Omaha was high and Malcolm was raised and born in that tension before he left Omaha,” said Joanna Leflore-Ejike, Executive Director Malcolm X Memorial Foundation.

The artwork of Jeremiah Neal is featured here today, like so many others Neal didn’t know Malcolm X was born in Omaha.

“When I moved here from Michigan I did not actually know where he was born and raised and so I was excited about that I came here to the foundation and I saw a blank wall and I had something in my mind and my heart,” said Neal.

Joanna Leflore is the Executive Director of the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation, she tells us years ago Malcolm’s birthday was a city-wide celebration.

“There were parades, food festivals, speeches, and guest lecturers so we want to bring that energy back this year.”

It was technology that brought past leaders of the civil rights movement to those in attendance at the luncheon celebrating the birthday of Malcolm X.

Bobby Seale, Co-Founder of the Black Panther Party, heard Malcolm speak.

“I just loved his boldness about pointing out the racism, the what have you, etc.,” said Seale.

Gus Newport, former mayor of Berkeley, worked with Malcolm.

“So I ended up moving to New York, Harlem went to work for IBM and was fortunate enough to have Malcolm and Adam Clayton Powell as my mentors for the next couple of years,” said Newport.

The Malcolm X Memorial Foundation is doing much more to celebrate the birthday of the civil rights leader.

Bobby Seale made a virtual visit and so did Gus Newport but there was a new voice heard today.

“In 2022 we are still fighting for equality and justice because of the color of our skin,” said Karen Wells.

Karen Wells is the mother of Amir Locke. She’s back in her hometown but she’s missing one of her sons.

“My baby was only 22 years old and he was executed by the Minneapolis Police Department on February 2nd, 2022 during a no-knock warrant,” said Wells.

Mrs. Wells is on a mission. She’s become a voice for her son Amir working to ban no-knock search warrants across the country.

“As his mother, I believe banning no-knock warrants across the United States of America will help save the lives of African Americans first and foremost and other people of color.”

Mrs. Wells says she didn’t know Malcolm was born in Omaha until she saw the Spike Lee movie starring Denzel Washington.

“I never read this in any of the textbooks when I was growing up I was furious as well as my peers while learning and attending college at UNL, we felt betrayed and lied to.”

Wells says just like Malcolm she is searching for equality, fighting for some of the same things he fought for years ago.

“We believe in bringing back our communities, villages to raise a child and saving the youth we should not have to bury our sons and daughters in order to make change.”

Officials are hoping there is a lesson learned here.

“It takes everybody to not only remember our past but know where we’re going so we need to collaborate with each other we need to make sure we’re hearing from one another on our successes and work together more.”

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