By reading X: A Novel this past summer, over 70 RPHS juniors participated in the Great Michigan Read — a biennial statewide literary program focusing on humanities themes — sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council. The novel, a fictionalized account of Malcolm X’s early years, was co-written by Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz and YA author Kekla Magoon. Of the 70+ students who read the book, more than 25 took advantage of Magoon’s tour of West Michigan by going to meet her at one of three locations: Hackley Public Library, The Bookman, or Loutit District Library. The students greatly enjoyed this cultural experience, in particular the Loutit event which paired Magoon’s presentation with two theatrical scenes performed by members of the Ebony Road Players. Excerpts from a full-length production called The Meeting, the scenes portrayed a theoretical meeting between Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
Students had much to say of their experiences. Jacob Smith noted that it was a “real eye-opener to the writing process.” Maddie Churchill gained a “better understanding of why the novel was written” and thought the “skit was very well produced and emotional.” For Anna Compton, the two scenes provided “a new perspective as to the type of person that Malcolm was;” for Jayde Potter, they provided information that “in history… we don’t learn.