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VOICES / A FORUM FOR COMMUNITY ISSUES | Essay

L.A. Needs a Malcolm X Boulevard

April 24, 1999|NAJEE ALI and EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON | Najee Ali is the executive director of Project Islamic Hope. Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a Los Angeles-based writer

In March, a coalition of community residents, businesspersons and activists in the Crenshaw area launched a campaign to rename a section of Degnan Boulevard to Malcolm X Boulevard. Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district takes in Leimart Park, has said the idea has merit. But the big hurdle is getting City Council approval.

First a public hearing must be held to determine support for the name change. If a substantial majority of those who attend the hearing back the plan, the Department of Public Works would report this to the City Council, which ultimately must decide it.

We feel that such an honor for the slain civil rights leader is much welcome and long overdue in Los Angeles.

Malcolm X was a powerful advocate of African American pride, economic self-sufficiency, political action and human rights. His life was one of change, growth and personal inspiration.

There are compelling reasons to have a Malcolm X Boulevard. It would recognize his towering accomplishments and the deep impact he made on America.

It would make Los Angeles one of at least 10 other cities in America to have a street that bears his name.

It would indelibly mark Leimert Park as one of the meccas of African American culture, art and politics in Los Angeles and the nation.

It would boost national and international tourism, business and promotional opportunities for Crenshaw-area merchants.

It would help erase Leimert Park's disgraceful past as an area marred by "whites only" racial covenants on apartments and homes. This barred African Americans and other minorities from living, working and even traveling through the area.

It would be an eternal reminder to young people of the powerful heritage, history and tradition of the black struggle in America.

In February, the U.S. Postal Service issued the commemorative Malcolm X stamp. This literally and justifiably places the stamp of approval on Malcolm X as a true American hero.

Malcolm X, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other great champions for freedom in America, is a man for the ages. And the best way to ensure that we and future generations emblazon his deeds and legacy permanently in our hearts and minds is to designate a section of Degnan Boulevard in his honor.

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