Imagine being named after one of the most iconic Black activists of the Civil Rights era and then your high school says you aren’t allowed to have your legal name printed on your senior sweatshirt. That’s exactly what happened to 17-year-old Malcolm Xavier Combs, a student at Christ the King High School in Queens, New York. “All I wanted was the ‘X,’ he told New York Daily News. “My name is Malcolm Xavier Combs.” The senior sweatshirt costs $40, but the school is refusing, claiming they did not want “to be connected to anyone controversial.”
“I felt insulted,” Combs expressed. “They just laughed at me … that’s my name, Malcolm X — not a nickname.” Reportedly, school officials said, “Malcolm received approval to use either his first name, his last name or Malcolm Xavier on the sweater.”
Rev. Kevin McCall from Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) said, “This is absurd that in 2018 we have to teach school administration how to be culturally sensitive. In the spirit of Malcolm X, we are calling cultural inclusion events with this school administration so that they can understand what it means to be black in America.”
Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz offered to visit the high school for an assembly to educate students and staff about her father’s legacy. The school refused and school spokesman Bill Cunningham said, “This school has been teaching about Malcolm X for 20 years as part of African American history.”
The National Action Network claims they will continue to fight back so Malcolm can use his name on a sweatshirt. The other irony — his parents paid $11,350-a-year for Malcolm to attend the school. That’s over $45,000 for the four years. For that price, Malcolm should be able to use any version of his name he would like.