On Tuesday, May 21, just two days after what would’ve been Malcolm X’s 94th birthday, the Hood Museum of Art hosted an event co-sponsored by the Office of Pluralism and Leadership and the Pi Theta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. that took students on an interactive tour of “The Temple Murals: The Life of Malcolm X” on the walls of Dartmouth’s Shabazz Center for Intellectual Inquiry.
The program was meant to bring awareness and understanding to Dartmouth students about the Shabazz murals and included an introduction by Victoria McCraven ’19 (2018-19 Homma Family Intern for Curatorial), a tour of the murals by Ashley Dotson ’18 (2017-18 Conroy Intern for Programming), and a poetry workshop led by Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing Joshua Bennett.
Many students have spent time around the murals, especially the panels in the building’s living room, which students call “the mural room.” The room has been used by students to hold community dinners, plan protests, and even host Sunday church services; however, many students do not know about the story that is painted onto the walls that surround them.
The murals, painted by Florian Jenkins in 1972, tell a story about the life of Malcolm X and his passion for social justice; they are intended to inspire students to join the narrative on the walls around them. During the event, the room was packed with students engaging in discussion and helping each other interpret the story. Students smiled, snapped, and clapped as they learned about the panels, one by one. Following the tour, the students were each given a chance to write a letter to Malcolm X, then gathered in a circle to read a line from their letters. Together, they created a commemorative poem as a gift to Malcolm X and the murals.
At the end of the event, students had a chance to participate in a raffle and win souvenir prizes, courtesy of the museum and Delta Sigma Theta, including books such as the autobiography of Malcolm X and Hood Museum t-shirts.
To learn more about the murals, read about them on the Hood Museum’s website.
Written by Ashley Dotson ’18, Conroy Intern for Programming