Students, teachers and politicians held a rally Wednesday in support of a Christ the King High School senior who was barred from having the name Malcolm X imprinted on a school sweatshirt.
The crowd of 50 demonstrators gathered outside the Queens school, demanding administrators reverse course and allow honor student Malcolm Xavier Combs to wear the sweatshirt.
The protest came on the 53rd anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Malcolm X.
“I am so glad and proud of this man Malcolm Xavier Combs for standing up for something bigger than himself,” said Public Advocate Letitia James, who plans to meet with Christ the King administrators.
Queens student can’t have name Malcolm X on senior sweater
“African-American history is needed now more than ever, especially (with) the climate in this country.”
The Daily News reported earlier this month that school officials pulled Combs, 17, out of his English class and told him he couldn’t have the name on the sweatshirt because he shouldn’t be associated with the original Malcolm X, a celebrated but controversial figure who fought for equality for blacks “by any means necessary.”
Malcolm X was assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights in 1965.
“Why am I in 2018 fighting for my own name?” asked Combs, who wore a T-shirt with the photo of the icon during the rally. “Why does everyone have their names and initials and nicknames on their sweater, but why can’t I have my name?”
Combs said while he was being lectured in the principal’s office about his choice of name, a teacher came in and joked that he is the “new Malcolm X.”
“Why did you feel the need to make me feel intimidated in that office?” said Combs, who got to meet his namesake’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, after The News’ report.
Minister Kirsten John Foy, of The Gospel of Jesus Christ Prophetic Justice, said at the rally that Christ the King educators could learn a lesson from Combs.
“The student has become the teachers and the teachers have become the students. Christ the King needs to be educated,” Foy said.
State Sen. Jesse Hamilton praised Combs for standing up for himself but blasted the school for erasing key figures in black history.
“For some reason, there’s a disconnect here,” Hamilton said. “We can learn about Presidents and slave owners, but we’re not learning about our history right here.”
City Controller Scott Stringer also praised Combs for fighting for what he believed in.
“You’ve already figured something out that adults take decades to figure out,” Stringer said.
“You are somebody and you will be respected and you will fight for your rights.”
After the rally, about 40 supporters marched down Metropolitan Ave. chanting, “What’s his name? Malcolm X. Say his name, Malcolm X.”