BLACK VOICES
02/12/2014 01:04 pm ET | Updated Feb 12, 2014

New York Students Weren't Allowed To Write About 'Bad' Malcolm X For Black History Assignment

Teachers at a Queens elementary school forbid students from writing about Malcolm X for Black History Month, The New York Daily News reports.

Fourth-grade students at PS 201 in Flushing were instructed to write an essay about a black American historical figure, and were given a list of potential subjects that included Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks.

When some students selected civil rights leader Malcolm X, however, one teacher allegedly crossed out the assassinated icon's name. Malcolm X was “violent” and “bad," the teacher reportedly said.

After learning of the teacher's characterization, outraged parents notified the school's principal.

"Certain historical figures might be complicated, might be a challenge to learn about, but kids need to learn about them," Council Member Rory Lancman told NBC New York. Lancman, whose district is in Queens, said parents met with school officials on Monday to resolve the issue.

Additionally, the city's Department of Education released a statement in support of teaching students about Malcolm X.

"Malcolm X is a historical figure and a hero to many New Yorkers that we believe should be celebrated in our schools," read the statement.

Calling the incidence "needless academic censorship," Council Member Daniel Dromm, who also represents Queens, said in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post that "rather than quashing students’ intellectual curiosity, we need to encourage them to explore and learn from our country’s complex and fascinating history.”

One parent was happy to stand up for her child's education. "I want him to know and understand, 'My mom took a stand because something was [crossed] out and my mom made a difference,'" Angel Minor told NBC New York. "I want him to know that black history really means something. To be black means a lot."

Malcolm X, who was shot to death in Manhattan in 1965, challenged the strict adherence to civil disobedience, favoring instead a "by any means necessary" approach to self-defense against violent oppression.

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