Category Archives: Hall of Fame

Open Letter to Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission

by Tm Heller
I write in support of the admission of Malcolm X to the Nebraska Hall of Fame. I regret that I was unable to attend the initial hearings due to other commitments. But, I want to submit to you my opinions.

I am not African-American.

I am not Muslim.

In fact, I am a white, Roman Catholic, Conservative.

Yet, I believe quite strongly that Malcolm X, aka Malcolm Little, deserves to be in the Nebraska Hall of Fame. Please allow me to explain why.

You are most likely familiar with his story. Malcolm’s autobiography has been a best-seller and a major motion picture. But, you are not aware of how I came to learn of him. I have spent most of my life in Omaha, but it wasn’t until the mid-90s that I was made aware that Omaha was the site of his birth. I was the Chairman of the Omaha Young Republicans at the time. One of my members, Dean Mathisen, pointed out to me that Malcolm’s birthsite in Omaha at 34th & Pinkney had become a dumping ground, in spite of the fact that a historical marker sits on the site. He urged me to consider an outreach project of cleaning up the grounds. I knew little of Malcolm, other than that he was a highly vocal, racially charged leader in the civil rights movement who had been assassinated. At Dean’s urging (actually he gave me the book) I read Malcolm’s autobiography.

I won’t lie to you. For the first three-fifths of the the book, I was wondering, “Why in the world am I even considering this? This man is so racist and anti-peace! Malcolm was as racist and bigoted as the KKK or Margaret Sanger. But, as I finished the book, I developed a profound respect for Malcolm and his continued quest for knowledge and the evolution of his mind.

Malcolm was, very much,a product of his environment. He grew up poor and was taught racial intolerance from both his father, a follower of Marcus Garvey and the the bigots and racists who tormented him throughout his life. Seeing little chance for success, he turned to a life a crime. His incarceration was one of the pivotal moments in Malcolm’s life.

In prison, Malcolm took advantages of the opportunities presented to him to feed his mind. Sadly, he fed it poorly. He succumbed, like many to the “blame game.” (“This isn’t my fault, this is the fault of someone else,” philosophy) That being said, he educated himself. He took up his cause and fought for it. The cause was right, the methods were not. He advocated hatred and revolution as the means to an end. Revolution is sometimes necessary, but hatred as a motivator is not.

But, Malcolm had an insatiable quest for knowledge. He possessed a keen intellect. As he traveled, speaking against racial oppression and engaging in spirited debates, the blinders of hatred that kept him focused, were gradually lifted. He began to question what he had been taught. There were things that didn’t add up. His mentors were not who he thought they were. Through his own efforts, he became self-aware. Tormented by what he knew and didn’t know, like Galileo, he sought the truth. Like Galileo, he was urged to be silent.

He traveled to Mecca, on his own accord, another pivotal moment. He learned the truth, “that “all men are created equal”. He brought that back to the Nation of Islam to enlighten them. And for that, he was silenced…murdered by the Nation of Islam.

With that knowledge, I organized the Omaha Young Republicans to engage in regular clean-ups of the site. We acquired numerous dumpsters. more than I can number and filled them to overflowing. (These were semi-sized dumpsters, not the small ones.) Gradually, revealing a landscape that been occluded by time and disdain. I lobbied the City of Omaha to put up signs indicative of the birthsite, so that people of Omaha would know what was there.

The small board that owned the land took notice. Inspired, they have turned a dumping ground into a growing memorial to a native Nebraskan who changed the landscape of racial politics and the civil rights movement. Mr. Liwaru and his associates on the board have done well. I applaud them for their efforts.

On a personal note, during one of her visits to Omaha I was able to meet and talk with Malcolm’s daughter, Attallah Shabbazz. We discussed, at some length, the work I had organized and her father’s life. As we parted, Ms. Shabbazz remarked to me that, “Of these people, you best understand my father.” I remain truly humbled by that statement. It is why I am so motivated to write to you about Malcolm. He is often misunderstood and judged by his errors and not by the good he accomplished and the vision he achieved.

I believe Malcolm exemplifies the spirit of Nebraska. Our Nebraska virtues and values of: Determination, Leadership, Vision, Knowledge, Courage, Justice and Truth and as such deserves to be recognized by the Nebraska Hall of Fame..

Like others before and since, Malcolm X paid the ultimate price for his beliefs. Sadly, at the hands of his friends, who blinded by their hatred of others destroyed a life that would have opened their eyes.

Like those already installed, Malcolm exhibited a willingness to stand up for what is right. He showed determination in the face of insurmountable obstacles. He was passionate about his cause. He had a inquisitive mind that opened his eyes, and ours, to new possibilities. Like those already installed, Malcolm let an indelible fingerprint on our state, our nation and our world.

Like Governor Norris, he was a reformer.
Like Willa Cather, he was a visionary with heart.
Like General Pershing, he was a motivator of men and a strong able leader.
Like Lorne Eiseley, he was a philosopher.
Like Fr. Flanagan, he had a great heart and a desire to change society for the better.
Like Buffalo Bill, he was a rebel and a showman.
Like William Jennings Bryan, he was a gifted orator and religious leader.
Like Bess Aldrich, his story has been translated into innumerable languages.
Like John G. Neihardt, we was a gifted writer.
Like Susette Tibbles, he sought rights for the oppressed.
Like J. Sterling Morton, he was working for the future.
Like Red Cloud, he worked for his people.
Like Grace Abbott, he was a pioneer for social legislation.
Like Charles Bessey, he was tireless in pursuit of his goals.
Like Mari Sandoz, he believed and lived in the stimulation of the mind.

Like Standing Bear, he found a better way.

Unlike these, the was assassinated for doing what was right.
Unlike these, he remains largely unknown to Nebraskans.

To the Members of the Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission:

I strongly urge the admission of Malcolm Little (Malcolm X/El Hajj Malik El Shabbazz) to the Nebraska Hall of Fame.

Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission Meetings, Hearings, and Testimony

Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission Meetings, Hearings, and Testimony.

2014 Hall of Fame Nomination Decision Meeting on Friday, November 16, 2012, 2:00 p.m. in Lincoln, NE.

Please click the link above for the agenda for the Hall of Fame Commission meeting scheduled for Friday, November 16, 2012, 2:00 p.m. in hearing room #1113 located on the ground floor of the Capitol. Hearing room #1113 is located in the southwest quadrant of the ground floor.

Parking: Street parking around the State Capitol building is available.

The agenda has been set so that there will be about an hour for general discussion by the Commission, concerning the candidates. Oral testimony pertaining to the nominees will not be taken at this meeting given the fact that the required three public hearings were held and all Commissioners have both the notes of those hearings and all written testimony submitted to date. Anyone wishing to submit additional written comments should send them to the Secretary of the Commission by November 9. Following the discussion, the Commission will try to reach a decision on the one inductee to be inducted for the five year period of 2010-2014.

 This meeting will be conducted in strict accordance with the Nebraska Open Meetings Act. All discussion and deliberation will be conducted in open session; all votes will be roll call votes.

Please contact Michael J. Smith, Secretary to the Hall of Fame Commission at michael.smith@nebraska.gov or 402-471-4745 if you have any questions.

NHOF Sign the Petition

We believe that the support of the worldwide community will help influence the decision to add Bro. Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X) to the state’s Hall of Fame.

Accompanying letter to the Nebraska Historical Society:

We the undersigned request The Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission, the official body responsible for the evaluation of candidates and the bestowal of the prestigious honor, select Nebraska Native Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X) for induction into this State’s Hall of Fame.

Nebraskans possess a strong sense of community and identity.  Malcolm X has had a profoundly positive impact within a wide variety of communities and people of various demographics and backgrounds identify with his legacy.

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established almost 50 years ago to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.  As native Nebraskans, transplanted Nebraskans, new residents and visitors from around the globe remind us, one very prominent Nebraskan has been overlooked.  Malcolm X should join the remarkable group of Nebraskans, whose legacy remains a source of state pride and inspiration.

Signed,

Supporters of Malcolm X (you)

NHOF Benefit Dinner 4/13/09

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TABLE OR SEAT

The Department of Black Studies at the University of Nebraska Omaha and the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation would be honored to have you present at an upcoming event to promote awareness regarding the Nebraska Historical Society and its consideration of Nebraska Native, Malcolm X in the State Hall of Fame.

It is incumbent upon us to do something on a large scale to bring attention to this issue.  Therefore; a star-studded event will be held on Monday, April 13, 2009 at 6 p.m. at the UNO Thompson Alumni Center in conjunction with the UNO Malcolm X National Conference.

Our honored guests will be television and film actors Anna Maria Horsford and Meschach Taylor. Horsford is perhaps best known for her role as Thelma Frye alongside Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Sherman Hemsley on the sitcom Amen, her role as Craig Jones’ mother, Betty Jones, in the 1995 comedy, Friday and as loveable security guard Dee on The Wayans Bros.  Taylor began his film career in movies such as Damien, Omen II, The howling, Mannequin and Mannequin II, but is best known for his Emmy-nominated role of Anthony Bouvier on the hit television series “Designing Women”.

This will be an extraordinary event and we strongly encourage you to purchase a table to help us bring attention to, awareness of and support of this issue. Tables are $300 each with setting for 8.  Groups of less than eight can purchase tickets at $40 per person.  The price includes ticket to this black tie (optional) affair, an entrée, our keynote presentation and participation in the autograph signing at the conclusion of the program.  Space is extremely limited.  Therefore; we encourage you to reserve a table immediately.

We are a tax exempt organizations and your donation will be tax deductible to the full extent of the law.  If you wish to support this effort with a silent donation, please contact Sharif Liwaru at 402-590-7526.  Payment can be made by check or it can be sent via Credit Card online payment by clicking HERE. We are asking that all checks, for contributions, table purchases or general donations, are made payable to “Malcolm X Foundation” and are sent to the following address:

Malcolm X Memorial Foundation
3226 Lake Street
Omaha, NE 68111

Thank you for your continued support. We look forward to seeing you there.

NHOF Commission Hearings, Testimony

There were three hearing held, one in each district of Nebraska in addition to the opening nomination meeting.  We have pictures of the Omaha hearing during the most recent cycle.  The presence of Malcolm X supporters attending each of the hearings was impressive.  Our presence at each of the hearings, including in rural western nebraska, exceeded those of the other nominees.  In the top photo, a young supporter signs in with the Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission Secretary Michael Smith.

The following three links will let you take a look at the hearings and a brief summary of what each testifying supporter said.  It’s worth a look.

District I Hearing Testimony, (pdf)
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Norfolk Arts Center, 305 North 5th Street, Norfolk, NE

District II Hearing Testimony, (pdf)
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, 3215 State Street, Omaha, NE

District III Hearing Testimony, (pdf)
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Holiday Inn Express – Paiute Room, 300 Holiday Frontage Road, North Platte, NE

NHOF Cycle Ending 2009

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans who have made significant contributions to Nebraska and the nation. The Hall of Fame honors people (1) who were born in Nebraska, (2) who gained prominence while living in Nebraska, or (3) who lived in Nebraska and whose residence in Nebraska was an important influence on their lives and contributed to their greatness.

The Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission, with members appointed by the governor, is permitted to nominate one person to the Hall of Fame every five years. (This changed from every two years prior to 2000).  In 1976, the nation’s bicentennial year, the commission selected four people to be honored. Individuals must be deceased thirty-five years (formerly ten years) to be considered for the Nebraska Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame recipients display is located on the second floor of the State Capitol in Lincoln.

 

During the last 5 year cycle, The Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission received nominations of prospective inductees to the Nebraska Hall of Fame, pursuant to legislation passed in 2005. (Neb. Rev. Statute 72-724). Nominations for the following candidates were received: Major League baseball player Grover Cleveland Alexander (1887-1950); University of Nebraska botanist Charles E. Bessey (1845-1915); physician Georgia Arbuckle Fix (1852-1918); World War II landing craft manufacturer Andrew Jackson Higgins (1886-1952); Union Pacific Railroad President William M. Jeffers (1876-1953); aviatrix Evelyn Sharp (1919-1944); and black activist Malcolm X also known as Malcolm Little and Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (1925-1965).

 

NHOF Why Malcolm X?

At Christmas time, we sing, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” But, Bethlehem was only the town where Jesus Christ was born. In fact, because of discrimination, his mother had to give birth in a filthy, stinking stable. Yet, Bethlehem is sacred to all Christians.

Nazareth was a backwater village where Jesus spent his childhood. When he returned with healing miracles and wisdom, he was ridiculed and told to get lost. That’s why Christ said, “A prophet is always without honor in his own land.” Yet, Nazareth is sacred to all Christians.

Malcolm X was born in Omaha in 1925. He was driven from Nebraska as a small child after racist violence against his family. But nothing can change the fact that he was born in Nebraska. Yet this seems to give Nebraska an iconic status to everybody in the world except Nebraskans.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X has been one of the most widely-read autobiographies in the world since 1965. His life is recognized as one of the greatest examples of human redemption from criminality and degradation to global leadership and respect. There are colleges, schools, streets, parks, boulevards and postage stamps, in America, Africa and Europe commemorating Malcolm X.

Moreover, Malcolm X single-handedly redirected a profoundly angry generation of African-American activists away from hating the entire Caucasian race and created a new vision of interracial cooperation that redefined the civil rights movement. And only Malcolm X had the stature and personal integrity to change that direction.

Malcolm X is the largest historical figure to be born in the state of Nebraska. His legacy is ours to claim for the one reason nobody else can. He’s a Nebraskan. It’s time to induct him. Bethlehem and Nazareth did it. Why shouldn’t we?