Outrage after Queens teacher tells kids not to write about Malcolm X

Anthony Johnson has the story
February 10, 2014 9:25:12 AM PST
There is outrage among some parents of students at an elementary school in Queens after a teacher told children not to write about Malcolm X during Black History Month.

The technology teacher at PS 201 in Flushing said it's because the slain civil rights leader was too violent.

The teacher looked up some information about Malcolm X online and determined it was not age-appropriate material for her fourth graders. She has since apologized to the parents and plans to apologize to students as well.

Parents and prominent politicians who gathered at the school Monday morning said it was important for all teachers to have cultural sensitivity.

"My son came home and said, 'Oh, guess what, dad? The teacher said we couldn't write about Malcolm X because he was bad,'" parent Frank Brown said.

The parents said the children were also confused because the teacher referred to Malcolm X as violent.

"And here I have this educator, a technology teacher, telling my son wrong information," parent Angel Minor said. "So if you're going to feed information, feed all the facts behind it. Just don't just give a piece."

The parents and politicians met with the principal Monday and plan on encouraging their kids to write and learn about the civil rights pioneer who became legendary in New York City's black community and was violently gunned down at the Audubon Ballroom.

"There was an acknowledgment that it was a mistake to leave these kids with the impression that it would be inappropriate in any way to study Malcolm X," City Councilman Rory Lancman said. "Malcolm X is an important historical figure, and not just for the black community, but in American history."

Local leaders hope teachers will encourage children to learn about all American history, the good and the bad.

"New York and America's made of different cultures, and we have to respect all cultures," City Councilman Andy King said. "And how gruesome it might be or how pleasant it might speak, we have to tell people because history is history, and it never changes."

The parents left the teacher a copy of "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" and plan to come back with a copy of the Spike Lee film.