Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

May 15, 1993

Guest post by Bridget McEvoy, undergraduate student at Manhattan College.

The article I have chosen is entitled “Parades, lectures to mark Malcolm X’s birthday” published in the New York Amsterdam News on May 15th, 1993. The article is about Malcolm X and the ways political leaders could honor him on his impending birthday.

The article sheds light on the ways people, especially African Americans, can look at his legacy and understand the revolutionary impact he had on the African-American community. David Paterson, former New York governor and state senator, is quoted many times in the article talking about how Malcolm X was a political role model for him and set an example as someone who spoke out against injustice wherever he saw it. Yuri Kochiyama, a Japanese activist against the oppression of people living in third world countries, is also quoted in the article recalling Malcolm X coming to her home to discuss atomic bomb testing in Japan during World War II, as well as the confinement of the Japanese to concentration camps in the United States. She makes a point to recall that Malcolm X was the only black leader who showed up to her home to discuss these issues.

I found the way in which Malcolm X was presented in this article to be interesting. I think that Malcolm X is often criminalized in history and the media when he is presented through a white perspective, and it is refreshing to see his legacy more accurately portrayed through an African-American voice. There are no extremely direct comparisons to this article and readings we have discussed in class, but there is a broad overarching theme depicted across this article and the readings. As we have learned in class, African Americans always played an extremely important part in New York City and its culture. In many ways African Americans built the city, because despite what many people think, slavery was very present in New York City from the 1600s to the 1800s. A quote in the article sums up this perspective very well, and that is “The City Is the Black Man’s Land.” African Americans have always been present in New York and played a crucial part in making it what it is today.

Choosing an article on Malcolm X from a newspaper written through an African-American voice gives a different perspective on him than the mainstream media usually does. It is beneficial to hear how the African-American community perceives Malcolm X and to recognize the strides he made in the civil rights movement. I have never worked with an African-American newspaper before, but reading this showed me that you should diversify the types of media you consume to see the ways different outlets present information. 

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