There was silence as five candles were lit in the Student Activities Center ballroom. As the fire burned not a sound was made in honor of Malcolm X.
Every year MALIK holds a vigil for Malcolm X on the anniversary of his assassination. His work greatly influenced the fraternity as a whole and it’s members, who refer to him as their Black Shining Prince.
Malcolm X was assassinated on Feb. 21, 1965 at the age of 39. A human rights activist whose presence in the civil rights movement is often dwarfed by Martin Luther King Jr. , his presence in history is controversial. His admirers see a courageous man: an advocate for the rights of African Americans holding white America responsible for their terrible treatment of minorities. Others accuse him of promoting violence and racism, causing more problems than creating solutions. However, the textbooks don’t tell the whole story.
“In our fraternity, we hold very dearly his teachings,” said Adesoji Taiwo Jr., MALIK’s secretary. “As well as his attitude towards progression and evolving as a man and a human being in this world.”
MALIK Fraternity, Inc., established in 1977 at C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, is rooted in tradition. The brother’s of Stony Brook University’s MALIK chapter have dedicated their time to serving under-privileged communities by following principles from which they derive their name: Manhood, Achievement, Leadership, Integrity and Knowledge.
“He may not of pledged [MALIK],” said Jeriel Stafford, the president of MALIK. “But we consider him a brother.”
While a member of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X promoted the idea of self-defense by any means necessary, but to the brothers of MALIK it means arming oneself with knowledge and an understanding of the world we live in.
“Helping the people in the community no matter what they may be,” said Stafford, “race, color, whatever it is we’re all the same. We all go through the same struggles in life.”
Taiwo, who spoke at the vigil, discussed Malcolm X’s teachings and his consistent overcoming obstacles life threw at him. He was abandoned by his father, imprisoned for larceny and breaking and entering, before finding solace in religion with the Nation of Islam and eventually becoming a spokesman for equal rights.
While the vigil was a somber event, MALIK’s existence is a celebration of Malcolm X’s teachings. It’s through the fraternity, in part, that his legacy lives on.