About 18 years ago, while I was still living in Lincoln, Nebraska, my brother-in-law decided to fly further west from being in Chicago for a Catholic Worker’s conference, for a little visit before heading back to Albany. During his stay, we rented a car and made a pilgrimage out to Omaha for two reasons: to visit Boy’s Town headquarters — literally in the nearby village of Boy’s Town, Nebraska — for my father who was a fan of Father Flanagan, and to visit the birth-home of Malcolm Little, of course also known as Malcolm X.
Figuring we were very close to the house, we spotted a local social justice center in the city to ask. We introduced ourselves, enthusiastically shared how we came all the way from New York and, well, Lincoln, and asked about some other possible details surrounding the house. But the guy’s tone unusually erred towards disappointment. After we told him the address of the house, he pointed over our shoulders and indicated, well, it “used to be” up that hill.
So we drove up, and from the side of the road all we saw was this plaque…
And for some reason the text of the plaque was not even facing the road, but the woods behind it. “Is that it? (emphasis two different times, on “that” and “it”)! I remember looking down to my left and still seeing the pole with street-signs for 34th and Pinkney mixed with the trees. My brother-in-law and I both felt a big sense of disappointment and sadness, while mitigating a sense of outrage. (I could not help but note the choice of wording in the text of “allegedly murdered”, as well as “became outspoken” as opposed to ‘spoke out against’.)
And with that said, fifty years ago this past February 21st happened to be the assassination of Malcolm, in New York City, at both the non-alleged hands and as a result of having spoken out against its ego-corrupted head of his former brotherhood.