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A Queens student, who made headlines after his school banned him from getting the name ‘Malcolm X’ on the back of his senior sweater, got the surprise of his life when the Civil Rights icon’s daughter came to visit him.
Malcolm Xavier Combs, 17, was thrilled to meet Ilyasah Shabazz at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network headquarters in Harlem on Sunday. During the meeting, Shabazz gave him an “X Legacy” tee shirt, according to the New York Daily News.
“I’m probably going to frame that — I like it so much,” Combs said.
During the meeting, Shabazz praised her father’s legacy. Combs’ request to have Malcolm X’s name on his sweater had been denied because the school administrator thought it was too controversial, a claim that Shabazz also argued against.
“He was fearless because he loved us and he believed in our humanity,” she said. “He believed every child deserved an opportunity to realize his or her God-given potential. He said we’re miseducated [and] demanded an end to 400 years of trauma … What’s so controversial about that?”
The senior sweater
Combs, a student at Christ the King High School, told the Daily News that a school administrator, Veronica Arbitello, called him to her office to talk about his request to have the name on his sweater.
“[She] told me … that’s someone I don’t want to be associated with,” Combs said. “All I wanted was the ‘X.’ My name is Malcolm Xavier Combs.”
But Arbitello took it one step further and then started to mock Combs for his request. The administrator laughed with her husband, Coach Joe Arbitello, about the name and introduced him as “the new Malcolm X.”
“I felt insulted,” Combs said. “They just laughed at me … that’s my name, Malcolm X, not a nickname.”
Although Combs ended up canceling the order for the sweater, when he talked to his parents about the problem, they said that they hadn’t been contacted by the school or Arbitello about the sweater. He was left feeling humiliated and without the senior swag he’d hoped to wear.