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'He is very important to us' | Celebrating Malcolm X Day in Sacramento

The first Malcolm X Day celebration was held in May 1972 in Washington, D.C. Other cities, like Berkeley, continue to recognize Malcolm X Day as an official holiday.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Jordan McGowan, who leads Malcolm X Academy, works to make sure students learn about the civil rights leader.

Malcolm X Academy is a full-time community homeschool that serves students from kindergarten to 8th grade at The Shakur Center in Sacramento's Oak Park neighborhood.

The mission of Malcolm X Academy is "to create a liberated learning space for young scholars."

"Malcolm loved his people," said McGowan. "We identify as Afrikans. Malcolm identified as Afrikan and identified himself with Afrikans throughout the diaspora of the continent. It's important for us to connect to that and show that we are trying to move in the ways that he showed us."

The school celebrated the 98th birthday of Malcolm X May 19, also known as "Malcolm X Day." Students participated in a list of activities, like painting, reading, dancing and displaying class work on the walls.

During the celebrations, Shawntay Gorman helped students draw and paint images of Malcolm X. As a local artist, Gorman says she uses art to help keep the memory of Malcolm X alive for generations to come.

"He is very important to us," said Gorman. "I think that it's just very important for the kids to know that there were leaders before us, there are leaders with us now and there will be leaders in the future. Maybe these sorts of projects will spark a mind to be the next future Malcolm X."

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In Sacramento's Del Paso Heights neighborhood, a celebration will be held over the weekend to remember the life and legacy of Malcolm X, too. 

Community advocate Berry Accius is helping to organize the 3rd annual Malcolm X Fest. It will be a free community event, held outside, with vendors, food, music and panel discussions. 

"Just as important as MLK was to the Black community, Malcolm X was just as important," said Accius. "He was such a great activist and advocate for not only Black people, but for all people."

Malcolm X Fest will be held Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. at 1913 Del Paso Blvd. in Sacramento.

The first Malcolm X Day celebration was held in May 1972 in Washington, D.C. Other cities, like Berkeley, continue to recognize Malcolm X Day as an official holiday, with schools, city offices and libraries being closed. 

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