University Removes Partial Malcolm X Quote That Sparked Protests
Thirty years after protests by the University of Rhode Island’s Black Student Leadership Group, the school has removed a partial Malcolm X quote from its library.
According to NBC News, the quote was removed from the Robert L. Carothers Library and Learning Commons because the group and other protesters said the incomplete quote was a misrepresentation from the overall perspective given by Malcom X.
The inscription read, “My alma mater was books, a good library ... I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.”
It was installed in 1992 and meant to serve as a tribute, but instead it provoked outrage, the school’s website states.
The full quote, which was taken from The Autobiography of Malcolm X, reads, “I told the Englishman that my alma mater was books, a good library. Every time I catch a plane, I have with me a book that I want to read — and that’s a lot of books these days. If I weren’t out here every day battling the white man, I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity — because you can hardly mention anything I’m not curious about.”
The removal of the quote is among one of the major changes the university is making in response to the 1992 protest, including the creation of the Multicultural Student Services Center “located in the heart of the campus” and also the creation of an African Studies major.
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In November, the 1992 protesters held a 30-year reunion. After becoming URI’s president in August 2021, Marc Parlange pledged in 2022 to have the quote removed.
“The removal of this inscription started 30 years ago, when a group of URI students had the courage to stand up and speak out against injustices happening at that time,” Parlange stated. “Our university is grateful to those students for their courage, and I am grateful to today’s generation of student leaders who, advocating in that same spirit, continue to inspire our ongoing work to foster a truly inclusive and equitable community.”
Michelle Fontes, who was a member of the 1992 BSLG, said, “I know that the removal of this quote will mean so much to other members of the Black Student Leadership Group. “I am happy to have been part of the activism that took place in 1992 and this quote finally being removed is proof that our new administration is listening and striving to do better.”