Children Barred From Writing About Malcolm X in NYC School

The school has acknowledged it was "a mistake to leave kids with the impression that Malcolm X is an inappropriate subject to study"

By Marc Santia
|  Monday, Feb 10, 2014  |  Updated 8:20 PM EDT
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Some parents of elementary school students in Queens say their children were barred from writing essays about Malcolm X for Black History Month. Marc Santia reports.

Some parents of elementary school students in Queens say their children were barred from writing essays about Malcolm X for Black History Month. Marc Santia reports.

Some parents of elementary school students in Queens say their children were barred from writing essays about Malcolm X for Black History Month.

Parents of children at PS 201 in Flushing said the fourth-graders were given the assigment to write about a prominent black leader, choosing from a list of names.

One family says a teacher took Malcolm X's name off the list, saying he was violent and not a good choice.

Angel Minor said her 9-year-old son told her: "Mom, we were doing black history projects and I was told we can't do Malcolm X because he was violent." 

Malcolm X spoke out for black Americans to fight for their rights "by any means necessary," including violence.

Councilman Rory Lancman said, "Certain historical figures might be complicated, might be a challenge to learn about, but kids need to learn about them."

Lancman and other community leaders met with parents and school officials Monday in what he described as a productive discussion. 

"The school took them seriously," he said. "There's a plan for going forward. The school acknowledged there was a mistake to leave the kids with the impression that Malcolm X is somehow an appropriate subject to study."

Minor says fighting for what she believes in was a hands-on lesson for her son. 

"I want him to know and understand, 'My mom took a stand because something was X'd out and my mom made a difference,'" she said. "I want him to know that black history really means something. To be black means a lot." 

The Department of Education said in a statement, "Malcolm X is a historical figure and a hero to many New Yorkers that we believe should be celebrated in our schools." 

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