Community members, elected officials, and business owners came out on Saturday, May 20, to witness the designation of the Malcolm X Route – a five-mile stretch along Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles.
Councilwoman Heather Hutt (CD 10) headed the ceremony to unveil the signage imprinted with the name of the revered minister and civil rights leader. Standing at the southern edge of Leimert Park, Hutt addressed the crowd and outlined some of the reasons that the L.A. City Council voted to acknowledge Malcolm X.
“The Malcolm X route pays homage to this prominent leader’s work in articulating concepts of racial pride and Black nationalism during the Civil Rights Era,” explained the councilwoman. “
“He dedicated his life to promoting Black empowerment among our people. By adding Malcolm X to this stretch today, we’re creating a powerful intersection of history and inspiration,” said Hutt, who noted the significance of the route’s location on Crenshaw Blvd.
“Because this area of the city primarily consists of the Black/African community, the route will intersect with the Rosa Parks Freeway, Obama Blvd., Martin Luther King Blvd., Sankofa Park, as well as Nipsey Hussle Square,” she said.
Connie Llanos, general manager of the L.A. Department of Transportation, said she was excited to “be a part of this historic moment.” Citing an inspiring quote of Malcolm X, she said, “One that struck me was ‘having the opportunity to ride in the front, back or middle of someone’s bus doesn’t dignify you. When you have your own bus, then you’ll have dignity.’
“At LADOT, we want to create a transportation system that is inclusive and serves people’s needs where we can actually create a sense of place as we work to create equity and justice in our transportation system. I want to thank the LADOT staff who put their heart and soul into this project,” she said.
Naming another person dedicated to the project, Congresswoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove applauded the efforts of Torre Brannon-Reese for working over the years to make the Malcolm X Route a reality. “He deserves all of the recognition and glory,” she insisted.
“Malcolm X said a lot of things including ‘if you want something, make some noise.’ The Leimert Park community is all about making noise. It is just as appropriate that we honor Malcolm X with this signage just as it is appropriate that we continue to fight for economic justice, self-determination, generational wealth-building and expanded access to educational spaces,” the congresswoman stated.
“We have a responsibility to his legacy and his life to never give up, not stop talking about our history and to never stop fighting for our place at the table and creating the table where justice can be realized,” said Kamlager-Dove.
Assemblymember Isaac Bryan credited Malcolm X with teaching Black Americans about the value of an education “and he taught us about justice and equity and empowerment. He taught us that peace is inextricably linked with freedom because you can’t truly be at peace until we’re all free.”
Bryan commended Hutt for spearheading the Malcolm X Route and declared, “Thanks to her, future generations will know about him, too.”
Taking the podium in the midst of loud cheers, Congresswoman Maxine Waters saluted Hutt “for having the courage” to have Malcolm X Route in CD 10. “There are many elected officials who would not dare mention the name of Malcolm X. She dares to take the leadership and say ‘we must honor those who honored us, who made sacrifices for all of us, let the history books know that we understand who Malcolm X was and what he stood for. To honor him on his 98th birthday is very special.”
Waters also remembered how Malcolm X influenced one of her young staffers. “He decided 30 years ago that we were going to honor Malcolm X and he’s standing next to me – Torre Reese. He made this decision and he stuck with it. The lesson is if you really care about something, you’ve got to be willing to fight for it,” she stressed.
“We are literally living today on Malcolm X’s words and what he cared about!”
Reese delivered remarks as well and recognized various people that helped him in the effort to honor Malcolm X. He expressed appreciation to several people including Shaka Satori, Dr. Johnny Raines, Andre Pervue, and the board members of his organization, FAMLI, Inc.