The daughter of slain civil rights leader Malcolm X touted the strength and resilience of her mother following her father’s assassination in 1965, along with her hope for a brighter future during a speech at South Carolina State University.

Dr. Ilyasah Shabazz, an award-winning author, educator and producer, spoke on March 28 about female empowerment during the second annual Black Women Lead Luncheon held at the I.P. Stanback Museum.

Shabazz spoke on the theme, “The Strength of the Black Professional Woman.”

“As I reflect on the life and legacy of my mother, Dr. Betty Shabazz, our topic is deeply personal to me. My mother’s story is a remarkable one filled with resilience,” she said.

She recalled how her then-pregnant mother and her sisters witnessed her father’s assassination. Her mother shielded Shabazz and her siblings from gunfire with her own body.

People are also reading…

“Just a week prior, they lay in bed together as husband and wife when a firebomb was thrown in the nursery of our home, where their young babies, my sisters and I, lay asleep,” Shabazz said.

Her mother never gave into despair and continued to create a loving and nurturing environment for the family.

“Despite having witnessed her husband’s political assassination, this young woman never gave in to bitterness or despair. She didn’t have a chip on her shoulder even though as a young wife and mother, many would say that she had every right. Had my mother become a victim after enduring such tragedies, I would not be standing here with you today,” she said.

Shabazz continued, “This young woman protected her husband’s legacy. She kept her husband’s essence, love, values and humanity integral in our household. She did not want their six daughters to suffer from the abrupt loss of our father’s physical presence and love.”

She said her mother raised her and her siblings to know that their father loved them and that he stood with wisdom and impeccable integrity.

“You see, Malcolm was ultimately led by his service to God, and from such a foundation my values were formed. It was only in college that I began to hear inaccurate portrayals of my father’s character and life’s work. I now understand why my mother protected us from the negative and false depictions of this warm and gentle icon, Malcolm X, so that his legacy and work could be accurately realized for the benefit of this generation,” Shabazz said.

“He introduced a human rights agenda to the civil rights movement. The climate in America was antithetical to the humanity of black and brown Americans, who lived in constant terror, traumatized and destitute without protection or hope from their own country. It is a familiar sentiment to so many of us,” she said.

The author continued, “So the challenge, brothers and sisters, is in emphasizing human rights. My father was saying that our capacity to care for one another must reach beyond ethnicity and religion. He was saying that it was our moral compass that reveals injustice.”

Shabazz shared the story of Charlotte Forten, the first African-American graduate of Salem Normal School, now Salem State University, who faced inequality because of her race and gender throughout her life.

Forten went on to become a renowned Black abolitionist, educator, writer, poet and women’s rights activist.

“We have to remember our ancestors and the challenges that they endured and take this information seriously because it is up to us to make change. No one else is going to come and do it for us. … Charlotte had every reason not to believe in the possibility of there ever being a day when those who were held in bondage would be free, but they became free,” she said.

Shabazz urged the audience to adopt an attitude of optimism, courage and “futuristic thinking” to bring about change.

“Like Charlotte, we must hold on to faith and not be blindsided by divisive tactics that simply deprive us of our intentional work toward realizing liberty and truth for us and for our future generations. … I’ve learned from the legacies of Malcolm X and Charlotte Forten that we must be torchbearers of truth and act courageously, knowing that each of us is accountable for how we react to our life experience in the sight of God,” she said.

Shabazz said dark times will come, but “in times of darkness, we’re not only called to find the light for ourselves, (but) we’re also called to be the light for others.”

“Today, the struggles we face may have new names, but at their core they remain the same. My father said, ‘Truth does not change, only our awareness of it.’ … We must adopt a mindset of futuristic thinking. … We cannot simply dwell in the glory of our past. We have to ask, ‘What does our future look like?’ The answer lies not only in learning from history, but also in acting and planning in the present as you are doing,” she said.

Shabazz said she’s “witnessed sisterhood first hand” following the deaths of father and the late civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in 1968.

“My mother and aunt, Coretta Scott King, became best of friends. Years later, Dr. Bernice King and I became sister friends, as well. The Shabazz Center was inspired in part by The King Center. We are not rivals, we are sisters,” she said to a round of applause.

“We can either fight each other or fight for each other. When we fight for each other, our possibilities are limitless,” Shabazz said.

The luncheon was a collaborative effort of Dedicated Outstanding Ladies Living Strong and the S.C. State Office of Student Life and Leadership.

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5534. Follow “Good News with Gleaton” on Twitter at @DionneTandD

#lee-rev-content { margin:0 -5px; } #lee-rev-content h3 { font-family: inherit!important; font-weight: 700!important; border-left: 8px solid var(–lee-blox-link-color); text-indent: 7px; font-size: 24px!important; line-height: 24px; } #lee-rev-content .rc-provider { font-family: inherit!important; } #lee-rev-content h4 { line-height: 24px!important; font-family: “serif-ds”,Times,”Times New Roman”,serif!important; margin-top: 10px!important; } @media (max-width: 991px) { #lee-rev-content h3 { font-size: 18px!important; line-height: 18px; } } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article { clear: both; background-color: #fff; color: #222; background-position: bottom; background-repeat: no-repeat; padding: 15px 0 20px; margin-bottom: 40px; border-top: 4px solid rgba(0,0,0,.8); border-bottom: 1px solid rgba(0,0,0,.2); display: none; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article, #pu-email-form-daily-email-article p { font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, “Segoe UI”, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif, “Apple Color Emoji”, “Segoe UI Emoji”, “Segoe UI Symbol”; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article h2 { font-size: 24px; margin: 15px 0 5px 0; font-family: “serif-ds”, Times, “Times New Roman”, serif; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .lead { margin-bottom: 5px; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .email-desc { font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; margin-bottom: 5px; opacity: 0.7; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article form { padding: 10px 30px 5px 30px; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .disclaimer { opacity: 0.5; margin-bottom: 0; line-height: 100%; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .disclaimer a { color: #222; text-decoration: underline; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .email-hammer { border-bottom: 3px solid #222; opacity: .5; display: inline-block; padding: 0 10px 5px 10px; margin-bottom: -5px; font-size: 16px; } @media (max-width: 991px) { #pu-email-form-daily-email-article form { padding: 10px 0 5px 0; } } .grecaptcha-badge { visibility: hidden; }

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>