The legacy of influential Civil Rights leader Malcolm X -- once known by the nickname "Detroit Red" -- has both shaped and been shaped by the city of Detroit.
Visitors to the Charles H. Wright Museum Of African American History will have an opportunity to reflect on the life of Malcolm X, also known as El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, and his relationship with the city during a commemoration of his birthday this Saturday. The free event, "Malcolm X Day: A Historic Homecoming," will include speakers, performances and a special one-day exhibit of rare artifacts from the museum's collection.
Keynote speeches will be delivered by Herb Boyd, a journalist, author and activist, and Haki Madhubuti, a poet, publisher and influential figure in the Black Arts Movement. The two men recently co-edited the book "By Any Means Necessary - Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented" with Ron Daniels and Maulana Karenga for Third World Press. They will discuss recent writings about Malcolm X and take visitors' questions.
Boyd, a former Detroiter, said the city played a seminal role in Malcolm X's development as an activist and thinker.
"It was in Detroit where he began his liberated odyssey with the Nation of Islam," Boyd said. "No matter where he journeyed, Malcolm always had a deep and abiding love for this city and the city never failed to return that love and devotion."
Bob Smith, the museum's Vice President of Education and Exhibitions said the writings of Malcolm X continue to offer inspiration and direction to the museum's educational works.
"Most of my generation, 60 years or older, know that after we read the 'Autobiography of Malcolm X,' our lives and the way we looked at the world was forever changed," he said. "This book and his speeches can still change and redirect the lives of the most desperate and confused person to a higher consciousness and greater sense of humanity, self-worth and sense of empowerment."
The program will include performances by the Amen Ra Drummers, saxophonist Tony Holland and local poet Jessica Care Moore, a five-time winner of Amateur Night at Harlem's Apollo Theater.
The museum's special one-day exhibition will display original writings, letters and other artifacts along with original works of art by by Detroit artist Charles Ezra Ferrell. The archived material will include writings that dates back to Malcolm X's childhood, allowing visitors to trace how his ideas changed throughout his life.
Malcolm X Day: A Historic Homecoming takes place Saturday, May 19 from 3-5 p.m. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is located at 315 East Warren in Detroit. For more information about the event visit www.TheWright.org.