Malcolm Xavier Combs made headlines this week after it was reported officials at Christ The King Catholic school told him he was prohibited from having his name–Malcolm X–placed on his school sweatshirt. In a show of support on Saturday (Feb. 10), the honor roll student met the civil rights icon’s daughter in Harlem at the National Action Network’s headquarters.
Ilyasah Shabazz gifted Malcolm with an all black shirt with the words “X Legacy” on the back. The 17-year-old, dressed in a suit and tie, couldn’t hold back his delight at the meaningful gesture.
“I’m probably going to frame that — I like it so much,” Malcolm said.
Christ The King High School is a private Catholic school in Queens, N.Y. with close to 900 students including 160 seniors. Last week, Malcolm filled out the request form for his sweater and requested his name Malcolm X be placed on the back. According to reports, Malcolm was approached by a school administrator and told his request was prohibited.
“The assistant principal pulled him out of English class and told him, ‘You don’t wanna be associated with his name,’ said the Rev. Kevin McCall of the National Action Network. “He was like, ‘Associate with MY name? That’s my name. That’s on my birth certificate.’ ”
The reverend added, “Another teacher comes in, who’s the varsity coach, who is her husband. She points to the student, Malcolm, and starts laughing, and says, ‘This is the new Malcolm X,‘ in the spirit of Black History Month.”
Officials deny using any derogatory language about the late civil rights icon, but have doubled down on their rule that no student is allowed to have a nickname on their sweater. “I was just trying to represent Malcolm X because I love my name,” Malcolm said.
Malcolm’s mother said she has no plans on caving in and isn’t surprised the school took issue with her son’s request. “They had no issue with Malcolm E. or Malcolm D, but that one letter in the alphabet has set off a firestorm,” Mychelle Combs said.
Rev. Al Sharpton said he supports the Combs family.
“I wanted this young man and his family to know that we are with them,” Sharpton said. “(National Action Network) has gone out there and spoken with the heads of the school. It seems that they have a hearing deficiency. Maybe a lot of us need to go out there and turn the volume up.”