Malcolm X among Nebraska Hall of Fame finalists |

Malcolm X, a native of Omaha and human rights activist, survived the first cut to stay in the running to be inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame.

In a meeting on Friday, members of the Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission reduced the list of nominees from eight to three. The other finalists are Louise Pound, a revolutionary scholar and athlete, and Howard Hanson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and musician.

The commission is expected to decide Sept. 12 which of the three should be added to the Hall of Fame, after which a bust will be commissioned and the runner-up will be formally inducted in 2025. The bust will join 26 others in the state Capitol.

Malcolm X, born in Omaha in 1925 as Malcolm Little, has been nominated for this honor at least twice before. Fifteen years ago, he was deemed too controversial to be added to the Hall of Fame.

This time, more than one commissioner spoke of his continued impact on people in Nebraska, the country, and around the world, especially African Americans. They noted his position as a spokesperson for equality and freedom, and that his life story served as an example for overcoming adversity.

However, Sara Crook, history professor emeritus at Peru State College, said she wouldn’t vote for Malcolm X because she doesn’t see him as a Nebraska any more than she views former President Gerald Ford as a Nebraska. .

Both were born in Omaha but their families moved away soon after, long before the state had much of an impact on them. Neither maintained any particular connection with the state.

“Technically they qualify, but I just don’t see them being Nebraskans,” she said.

Jill Dolberg, acting director of the state historical agency History Nebraska, said she was less concerned about whether Malcolm X had strong enough ties to Nebraska.

She argued that what happened to the Little family in Omaha – forced to leave because of threats from the Ku Klux Klan – had lasting effects on her life. She also said the scope of her impact has tempered concerns about her short stay in the state.

They and other commissioners also enthusiastically commented on Pound, whose nomination drew a pile of letters. Among them, women and girls spoke of the breadth of his accomplishments and how his life had personally inspired them.

“She’s what I would consider a Renaissance woman, a Renaissance person,” Tim Heller said.

Under state law, to be included in the Hall of Fame, individuals must be born in Nebraska, have risen to prominence while living in Nebraska, or have lived in the state and reside in the state. state had an important influence on their lives and contributed to their greatness.

Additionally, at least 35 years must elapse between a person’s death and the date they are officially made a member. Lawmakers added the requirement to ensure that a person’s accomplishments stand the test of time.

The Commission’s guidelines state that inductees have generally made contributions to society in “public affairs, or the arts, sciences, professions”, with the greatest weight given to “activities which have contributed to the well-being of society and the reputation of Nebraska.”

Secondary consideration is given to those involved in “entertainment, athletics, or fields of endeavor where interest, publicity, and general recognition may be intense for a period of time, but contribution to society is secondary “.

Besides the three finalists, recent nominees were Grover Cleveland Alexander, a famous baseball pitcher; Elzada Urseba Clover, a revolutionary botanist; Reverend Hiram Hisanori Kano, a Japanese American priest; Ernst H. Herminghaus, a noted landscape designer; and Calvin Chapman, who helped with the Nebraska City branch of the Underground Railroad.

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