Many people have admired Malcolm X as a courageous advocate for social equality.
Since he called for serious changes in society, the activist generated controversy and fueled passion among supporters and critics alike.
Therefore, a small group of African-American students from Indiana were making a bold statement when they approached college officials about forming a center named after Malcolm X in 1971.
Four decades later, the Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies (MXIBS) at Wabash College, a liberal arts college for men, is one of the most respected institutions of its kind in the country. This month the institute celebrated its 40th anniversary with special events on the Wabash campus, which is located west of Indianapolis in Crawfordsville, Ind.
“We feel very proud about reaching this milestone,” said Dr. Michael J. Brown, director of the MXIBS. “At a time when a lot of Black cultural centers and organizations are facing cuts on college campuses, it is still thriving.”
The MXIBS provides cultural, educational and social programs designed to help students develop into strong men who can make a positive difference in their communities.
The institute also provides programming to educate the general college student body and Crawfordsville community about diversity and the African-American experience.
The MXIBS has an organization run by the students who make time to participate in marches, parades, fellowship dinners, tutoring programs for grade school students and community leadership opportunities. The institute also offers events such as a lecture series and Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month programs.
Students will go further into the digital age this month by hosting a virtual town hall meeting with students from Atlanta based Morehouse College.
“We are glad to be celebrating 40 years of history, accomplishments and prosperity,” said Reginald Steele, student chairman of the MXIBS. “This anniversary sparks only the beginning of the legacy of this institute.”
Brown noted that similar African-American college centers around the country often have a focus that is geared either toward research for Black academics, or social opportunities for Black students. However, MXIBS, he said, incorporates both of those needs.
The MXIBS began in a small white frame house, but today it is housed in a $2 million, 8,500 square foot building constructed in 2002. The building houses an African-American studies library, classrooms and recreational areas.
Former MXIBS director Horace Turner was happy to find the group of committed students who formed the institute after he arrived on campus in 1971.
“As a result of their courage and perseverance, we were able to make Wabash and the Crawfordsville community more tolerable and respectful to people of color,” Turner said.
A key component of MXIBS’s success has been the support it has received from college officials from the beginning.
“They recognized that (Malcolm X) had become much more global minded,” Brown said. “They felt that taking the name ‘Malcolm X Institute’ would help the campus and community move from a North/South mentality to a much more global mentality.”
Wabash College President Patrick White said the MXIBS has been an important asset to both the college and the state.
“This institute has a long and honored history of helping young men find success and achievement at Wabash and develop as leaders on campus and beyond,” he said. “It also reminds us to be fully alive in our times, and that we need to not just be passive before the changes around us, but we need to be creating those changes.”
For more info about the Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies, visit www.wabash.edu/mxibs/.