By Josie Loza
The UNO black studies department will host a three-day festival honoring the life and work of Malcolm X. The festival will run Feb. 7 through 9.
The Malcolm X festival is the first of its kind for the university, said Robert Chrisman, chair of the black studies department.
When Chrisman first joined the department in September, he felt it had a strong component of community involvement. For that reason, Chrisman proposed the idea of hosting a festival.
“It would be a logical thing to have a Malcolm X festival in view of his significance to Omaha,” Chrisman said. “And do it in such a way that would interface community and the college.”
Chrisman believes the festival will provide an outlet to accessing the history of black studies.
“A lot of issues in the ’70s revolve around identity, black consciences and I think people have learned that now,” Chrisman said. “People do have a sense of black pride and black dignity.”
The first day of the festival will focus on events within the campus. Speakers will address issues of human rights, diversity and the life of Malcolm X.
The following day, middle and secondary students will be bused to UNO’s campus. Those students will have the opportunity to partake in activities ranging from lecture seminars to computer workshops. They will also attend the dramatic performance *The Meeting.* The production dramatizes the meeting between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
“We first would like to familiarize students with the UNO campus and demonstrate that they are really welcome on the campus, show them practical skill through computer application and begin to introduce the idea that black studies is an important element in verbalizing humanities,” Chrisman said.
He anticipates that 75 to 100 students will attend the festival.
The festival is open to the public and all events are free on campus.
Boys and Girls Club, 2606 Hamilton St., will be the site for the last day of the festival. It will conclude with the production of *The Meeting.* There is an admission fee of $2 for all non-members.
Born in Omaha in 1919, Malcolm Little lived briefly in Omaha. Malcolm made a pilgrimage to Mecca, changed his name to Malcolm X and formed the Organization of Afro-American Unity in 1964.
To honor him, there is a site for his family at 34th and Pinkney Streets.
“Probably the most pertinent thing that we’ve learned from Malcolm is the potential … for change,” Chrisman said. “Malcolm went through just about every stage of human development and he continued to change, grow and transcend. There are many Malcolms. There’s Malcolm the internationalist, there’s Malcolm the Black Muslim, Malcolm the street hustler and Malcolm the talented junior high school kid who was discouraged. There’s a Malcolm for everyone … I think that’s got to be understood.”