The University of Rhode Island has finally taken down a shortened quote by Malcolm X that was placed in its main library. The decision comes 30 years after the school’s Black Student Leadership Group and others protested because they said it was taken out of context and misconstrued the revolutionary’s original intentions.
The words that were inscribed on the Robert L. Carothers Library and Learning Commons read: “My alma mater was books, a good library ... I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.” However, the actual quote from “The Autobiography Of Malcolm X” originally stated:
“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 tribute was installed in 1992 and even though the university meant to celebrate the icon, it was met with intense backlash. The original protesters reunited 30 years later in November. During that time, University of Rhode Island President Marc Parlange said that the quote would be removed.
In a statement, Parlange explained:
“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. 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.”
As conservative politicians work to erase Black history across the nation, it’s worth noting that accuracy is just as important visibility.