Malcolm X to Barack Obama: Celebrating America’s Black Culture

Crystal Nutt

In celebration of Black History Month, two very important guests will be speaking at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19 in the Great Lakes Room of the University Center.

The daughter of Malcolm X, Ilyasah Shabazz will be speaking about her memoir “Growing Up X: A Memoir by the Daughter of Malcolm X” and what her life was like growing up in the shadow of her father’s legacy.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor for The Atlantic, will also be giving a presentation about race in America and the future of black culture.

The Black Student Union, Platform Personalities, Student Finance Committee and Multicultural Education Resource Center are sponsoring this event. This is the Black Student Union’s first successful year at bringing this and the other Black History Month events to campus said co-president of the Black Student Union Taylor Johnson.

Johnson said the Black Student Union has been around for 10 to 15 years, but this is the first time they have had sponsored events.

“We started planning towards the end of November and we got the budget from the student finance committee in December,” Johnson said. “I’m extremely excited.”

Platform Personalities faculty adviser Rachel Harris said Platform Personalities and the Black Student Union decided to partner together last semester.

“We wanted to bring speakers for Black History Month, and we had similar goals,” Harris said. “It’s been great, this collaboration; it’s great for both groups and the community,”

The second co-president of the Black Student Union Liddia Wells said she is also excited.

“It took a long time to find the perfect person (Shabazz),” Wells said.

She said she expects a good turn-out for the event.

“I expect a fair crowd, not super big because it’s new,” Wells said.
Johnson and Wells said the Tuesday, Feb. 19 event and the other events taking place are important to go to because they raise awareness.

“It brings awareness to our culture, to what we do and what we stand for,” Wells said. “It brings awareness to campus and community. Our main focus is to educate.”
Harris said events like this help the community, especially one that is isolated in the Upper Peninsula.

“It helps you relate to different cultural backgrounds,” Harris said. “Not everyone has had a lot of exposure…The more you learn about others, the more self-aware you are.”

Johnson said the group received funding from the Student Finance Committee, the Multicultural Resource Center and NMU President David Haynes. Haynes is a strong advocate for diversity, according to Wells and Harris.

The presentation is free for students and $2 for the general public, Harris said.

“We want people to be exposed to this too; we need the community to get the experiences,”
Harris said. “I think both speakers are wonderful and exciting and it’s an important topic.

[Students should] take an advantage of these opportunities on campus.”

For more information about the speakers and other upcoming Black History Month events, visit