INKSTER (AP) – A group of suburban Detroit residents wants to clean up and restore a house where civil rights leader Malcolm X lived in the 1950s and have it designated as a historic landmark.
The yard of the boarded-up, burned-out home in Inkster, a city hit hard by crime, blight and a declining population, was cleaned up in July, The Detroit News reported.
The nonprofit organization behind the effort, Project: We Hope, Dream and Believe, thinks the home could one day be open to tours and house some Malcolm X memorabilia.
“We want to promote it so people can see we have something positive here,” Inkster resident Dawon Lynn said. “There’s really been nothing positive going on in the city, so we want to let people know Malcolm did stay here and give the kids walking to school something they can be proud of.”
Aaron Sims, who operates the nonprofit, led the July effort to clean up the property and a neighboring house.
He appealed for help by posting a picture of the house on Facebook with the caption: “Can we cut Malcolm X’s grass.” Dozens of volunteers and residents responded, cutting the lawn, clearing overgrown tree branches and picking up debris, including syringes and liquor bottles.
The weeds have since grown back, however, and vodka bottles again litter the lawn.
“When you don’t share information about who lived there, people just treat it like a regular abandoned house,” said Sims, a fourth-generation Inkster resident. “I don’t think the owners knew too much of the history and neither do the kids in the community.”
Plans for the project are expected to be discussed at an Oct. 21 city council meeting.
Malcolm X rose to fame as the chief spokesman of the Nation of Islam, a movement started in Detroit more than 80 years ago. He proclaimed the black Muslim organization’s message at the time: racial separatism as a road to self-actualization and urged blacks to claim civil rights “by any means necessary” and referred to whites as “devils.”
After breaking with the Nation of Islam in 1964 and making an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, he espoused a more internationalist approach to human rights and began emphasizing that he didn’t view all whites as racists. He was assassinated in 1965.
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