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Malcolm X Day Set For Saturday At Hartford Public Library

The Consciousness Coalition Organizes First Annual Event


May 15, 2013

HARTFORD Muhammad Ansari was 25 when he sat for coffee with the black nationalist leader of his generation.

It was 1963 and Malcolm X had come to Hartford to speak at the Bushnell. While Martin Luther King Jr. preached peace with white "brothers," the man born as Malcolm Little used hostility to stoke the civil rights movement.

"He was militant," said Ansari, now 75 and president of the Greater Hartford NAACP. "He was fiery Malcolm X. White man 'devil'; black man 'god.' ... We were talking about the conditions, as always, the conditions of our people."

Fifty years after that Hartford visit, the Consciousness Coalition, a group of social activists in the city, will hold its first annual Malcolm X Day on Saturday at the downtown Hartford Public Library.

Malcolm X, assassinated in 1965, would have turned 88 this weekend.

Saturday's theme is "Stopping violence by any means necessary," said organizer Kelvin Lovejoy, who has been working with city youth for more than 20 years. From noon to 5 p.m., the activities include a talk from Ansari, a video compilation of Malcolm X's speeches, a panel discussion and several performances. Jasiri X, a Pittsburgh rapper and social activist, is among the scheduled artists.

The Consciousness Coalition formed earlier this year to stir conversations in Hartford on topics such as self-empowerment, education and urban violence, Lovejoy said Wednesday.

"People are dying," Lovejoy said. "To what degree, to what lengths are we willing to go to address this epidemic in this tiny city of 18 square miles?"

Decades ago, white supremacists in the South "were lynching us and killing us. And now, we're killing one another," Ansari said. "We're becoming our own worst enemy and we've got to stop it."

About a year after coming to Hartford, Malcolm X made a pilgrimage to Mecca that changed his worldview and cooled his separatist rhetoric. He disavowed his earlier stance that the white man was a "devil."

"You really realize the wonders of humanity once you make that trip," said Ansari, who went on his own journey to Mecca in 1996. "You realize that humanity is one. There is no difference, whether you are black, white, whatever God made one creature."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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