MASON, Mich. (WLNS) – On the heels of the anniversary of civil rights leader Malcolm X’s assassination in 1965 and weeks after the Mason City Council rejected a proposal to create a day honoring the activist. The Mason Historical Society highlighted his connection to the city Thursday night.

One of the presenters said he hopes this adds a bit more context to the debate.

“For a year and a half, Malcolm lived here and it’s something we need to acknowledge,” said Doug Klein with the Mason Historical Society.

Klein was invited to share a look at Malcolm X’s time in the city by the Equity Task Force in Mason, a group focused on promoting diversity and inclusion practices in the community.

In the last two weeks, the city council has faced criticism from some community members after it votes against a Malcolm X day of observance.

Though Klein said he wanted to avoid politics, he’s glad to have to chance to show a little-known truth about Mason.

“If you don’t read about it, you don’t hear about it. You don’t know it. And I think it can change you. History is transformational,” he said.

From 1939 to 1941, Malcolm X lived in Mason. A short time that Klein said helped shape Malcolm X into an influential leader.

“He did very well his 8th-grade year. In fact, that was where he found out he really liked the idea of speaking in front of large groups of people. And so when he did his interest tests in school, it came up that he wanted to be a lawyer,” said Klein.

Klein said Malcolm Little, as he was known at the time, was well-liked and became class president ahead of his 9th-grade year.

That involvement in school spread to the football field when he played for Mason High School. Klein said Malcolm X would later move to Boston with his sister after having some trouble in school in 1941.

Two weeks ago, the council rejected the day of observance. The mayor told 6 News while he understands the request for the motion, he believes city officials should focus on matters concerning city government.

Klein said he understands both arguments.

And while the failed resolution is still talked about around town, he hopes it leads to a broader discussion.

“It goes into who we are in terms of human beings, who we are in terms of human rights, civil rights and it goes well beyond one person one-day kind of thing.

Klein said he likes the idea of a permanent exhibit like the one in the Mason historical museum. He said it keeps the experiences and the memory of Malcolm X together with more context.