ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 16, 2007) -- Hip-hop activist and grassroots organizer Rosa Clemente will present the Malcolm X Commemorative speech at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday Feb. 21, in the Baker University Center Ballroom (moved from the Baker Theatre).
Clemente is a radio hostess and producer at a station in New York as well as a contributing journalist for Air America and Radio Pacifica. Her academic work covers national liberation struggles in the United States.
"She'll bring critical analysis. Sometimes when we think about hip-hop it's very surface and general and has to do with rap and all the negative things associated with that, such as misogyny, sexism and violence," said Akil Houston, visiting professor of African-American Studies. "I think she'll bring another perspective to that. She'll bring a good blend of activism and scholarship. She'll encourage students to think more broadly."
Clemente was chosen to speak because Malcolm X commemorative founder, Najee Muhammad, wanted someone who could address the conflict between African Americans and Hispanic Americans in the United States.
"It doesn't surprise me that conflict is there," Muhammad said. "Historically, blacks who were born here have not been able to move up the social strata while other groups are accepted into the mainstream. People want to deny that in the U.S., but there has always been an issue of whiteness."
As a black Puerto Rican woman, Clemente will bring a different perspective to the event. She will be the second female Malcolm X commemorative speaker since it began in 2001.
"Rosa looks at Malcolm X as a freedom fighter, and our work is an extension of his philosophy — to agitate and educate," Houston said. "Unfortunately, Malcolm is looked at as a person who was hateful, but that's not what he's all about. Rosa has an alternative take, much more meaningful and in depth."
Muhammad began the annual event in 2001 because to him it seems the portrayed sum of black history in the United States is in Martin Luther King Jr. and he believes that discussing black leadership without Malcolm X is denying a part of history.
"W.E.B. Du Bois said the problem of the 20th century would be the color line," Muhammad said. "It appears the problem of the 21st century will also be the problem of the color line."
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