The Rev. Al Sharpton on Saturday denounced a New York City high school that denied a Black student’s request to have his name “Malcolm X” printed on his school sweater.

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“It’s about respecting the identity of this child and respecting his parents,” Sharpton told those in attendance at the National Action Network headquarters in Harlem. “This is not about your opinions about our heroes. It’s about the right of parents to name their child and for that child to express himself.”

Malcolm Xavier Combs, a 17-year-old senior at Christ the King High School, in Queens, wanted his first name and middle initial (“Malcolm X”) be printed on the back of his senior sweater. The assistant principal, who is White, denied his request, telling the honor student that Malcolm X is not someone he should be “associated with,” the student told the crowd Saturday.

Combs’ parents, who named their son in honor of the slain civil rights icon, were outraged. The school accused the student’s mother, Mychelle Combs, of turning the incident into a media event. “No, you made it a media issue when you messed with our son,” she recalled telling school officials.

“I admire his parents,” Sharpton told the audience. “We don’t know how many other situations in which parents are intimidated and disrespected and nobody puts it out there. I don’t know what grade he’s in now, but he’s got a degree in self-respect from his parents.”

Ilyasah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, embraced the family at the rally. “I stand with this young man who’s fighting for his dignity,” Shabazz stated.

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