Malcolm X in 1964 (289896)
Malcolm X in 1964 Credit: Photo by Marion S. Trikosko/Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The People’s Organization for Progress (P.O.P.) observed the 96th birthday of civil rights icon Malcolm X with a virtual roundtable discussion.

The panel, which took place on May 20, featured Seton Hall Professors Kelly Harris and Todd Burroughs, P.O.P. vice chair Larry Adams, press officer Zayid Muhammad and chair Lawrence Hamm. Harris has a featured essay in the anthology “Malcolm X-Real, Not Invented,” which challenged the accuracy of the late Manning Marable’s “Malcolm X-A Life Of Reinvention.” Burroughs coedited an anthology also challenging the Marable book “The Lie Of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable’s Reinvention.”

Muhammad is founding press officer and principle organizer of the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee of New York City, who was spotlighted in the recent Netflix documentary “Who Killed Malcolm X?” Larry Adams provided a Marxian analysis, and Hamm recounted the work of P.O.P. around Malcolm X, including his relationship with the late Dr. Betty Shabazz, the wife of Malcolm X, and their once organizing of a citywide Malcolm X Commemoration Coalition.

“It is an amazing thing to consider that Malcolm X is not just a towering historical figure but that more than 50 years after his death he is still one of the most popular, most admired, most followed, most listened to, and most quoted black leaders of our times,” Hamm said. “He was one of our greatest orators and his fiery speeches inspired many of us to become part of the black liberation movement at home and abroad.”

During his life, Malcolm X visited Newark on occasion. One notable appearance was in 1958 when he accompanied Elijah Muhammad for a speech at the Rickory Theatre. In 1972, seven years after Malcolm X’s assassination, South Side High School in Newark was renamed Malcolm X Shabazz High School.

“I am glad that the spirit of Malcolm X is alive and well among us in the 21st century. However, I also believe that it is extremely important that we deepen our understanding of the ideas and philosophy of Malcolm X,” Hamm said. “Anyone who wants to be active in the struggle for Black liberation in particular and revolutionary social transformation in general must study the views and ideas of Malcolm X.”

P.O.P continues to hold its weekly “Justice Mondays” at the Federal Building in Newark. The protest spotlights police brutality victims in New Jersey including Abdul Kamal, Kashad Ashford Jerome Reid and Radazz Hearns. This Monday the organization marked one year since the police murder of George Floyd.

Next month, P.O.P. is hosting a memorial tribute to late member Ellen Culver and its annual March For Reparations with the NJ Institute For Social Justice on Juneteenth (June 19).