Malcolm X becomes first ever Nebraska Hall of Fame honoree


Photo by Unseen Histories

“Malcolm X waits at Martin Luther King press conference, head-and-shoulders portrait” by Unseen Histories and liscensed under Unsplash.

On Monday, September 12, 2022, human rights activist and American Muslim minister Malcolm X was finally accepted as the most recent honoree in Nebraska’s Hall of Fame, becoming the Hall’s first ever Black nominee to be accepted after fifteen years of being considered too controversial.

The Nebraska Hall of Fame, founded in 1961, was established to recognize and honor influential Nebraskans who contributed great prominence or influence to the world. Honorees are added to the Hall by the seven-person committee, and can only be nominated 35 years after their death. Malcolm X was a famous African American Muslim minister, human rights activist, and civil rights figure in the 1950’s and 60’s, and was an advocate for both the Black community and Nation of Islam until his assasination on February 21, 1965.

“Malcolm X was known for his strong connection…to bring about social justice for not only Black Americans, but Black citizens around the world,” Drew Willis, a social studies teacher at Lincoln East said. “His more global approach to activism made his prevalence larger than many of us realize…and he was consistent in his message to bring about change during a time in which it was desperately needed.”

While Malcolm X is most commonly remembered as the fiery Black empowerment advocate, he also upheld and preached extremely controversial beliefs on the ideas of race, and due to the heavy controversy surrounding his ideals had been rejected as a potential honoree by the Hall twice before, once in 2004, and again in 2007. However, five years later, in 2022, the 4-3 vote from the Hall of Fame’s commission was finally passed, despite the controversial debate, and Malcolm X became Nebraska’s first Black honoree.

“People [should] recognize Malcolm not just for being a Black civil rights leader, but for being an internationally known human rights leader,” Joanna Ejike, director of the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation said. “That’s something that Nebraska should be proud of.”

Twenty-six sculpted busts on display at the Nebraska State Capitol Building commemorate the current Hall members, a number that will soon turn to twenty-seven following the completion of Malcolm’s statue at an unknown date, where it will be displayed in the Hall following its completion and hopefully pave the way for future Black nominees.