Ask most young people if they know who Malcolm X is and they will usually respond in the affirmative. The first annual Minnesota Malcolm X Conference, which will be held on Saturday, May 17 at North Community High School, 1500 James Ave., N., from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., was organized to educate people – especially young people –about Malcolm X and why he is still relevant today.
"Black self-determination is still important," explained Glen Ford of blackagendareport.com, who will be one of the keynote speakers at the May 17 event. "If we lose sight of the meaning of Malcolm then we risk losing our moorings. We live in an era in which people are struggling all over the world for self-determination. They and we are struggling to create a world that is fit for the habitation of people. And we are struggling against a very tiny group of mostly white people who with insane amounts of money for the sake of money are determined to make the world uninhabitable."
Ford comes out of the late 1970s era of struggle and has been a journalist most of his career. His newsmagazine, Black Agenda Report, has been on the cutting edge of radical and left leaning Black America. He is well known for his critique of the Obama administration and was a YouTube sensation after his debate with the Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, in which he pointed out the flaws of the present White House administration.
One of the day's featured speakers is Omali Yeshitela. One of the last active members of the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Yeshitela is known by some in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area as the "last man standing" because of his steadfast adherence to his principles. Yeshitela is chairman of the African Peoples Socialist Party.
Many may be familiar with Yeshitela's collaboration with the conscious hip-hop group Dead Prez. He can be heard on the "Let's Get Free" CD, featured on a single called "Wolf." In it he describes how this system gets Black people to destroy themselves, much in the same way that wolves are tricked into doing themselves in by native peoples in the Artic.
"The struggles confronting African-American people in the world today are essentially the same as those that existed in Malcolm X's day. He exposed the colonial nature of our oppression and the need for revolutionary organization as the solution," stated Yeshitela.
Yeshitela's organization has been in the forefront of the struggle against police brutality in Tampa and was active in the effort to get justice for the family of Trayvon Martin.
The Minnesota Malcolm X Day event will include several workshops led by Ford and Yeshetela among others, including Malcolm X's influence on the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement, Black economic self- empowerment, pan-Africanism and internationalism.
There will be panel discussion and audience participation as well. Heading the panel discussion are University of Minnesota professors, Dr. Rose Brewer (professor of African and African American Studies) co-author of "The Color of Wealth" and "Black Radical Theory and Practice: Gender, Race, and Class" along with Dr. August Nimtz (professor of political science), well known for his analysis of the Katrina aftermath.