Ilyasah Shabazz on Feb. 12 in the Great Hall at Humboldt State discussing her book and what it was like growing up as Malcolm X's daughter. | Photo by Sarah Blunt

Growing Up in the Shadow of Malcolm X

Ilyasah Shabazz discussed her background with loving energy on Feb. 12
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Ilyasah Shabazz discussed her background with loving energy on Feb. 12

Ilyasah Shabazz, one of six daughters of Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X, came to Humboldt State University Feb. 12 to discuss her book, “Growing Up X.”

Despite the title, the book is not about Malcolm X. Rather, it surrounds the lessons and experiences that of Shabazz as she grew up living in her father’s radical legacy.

“One of the benefits of being my parents’ child is that I grew up with a lot of love,” Shabazz said. “It’s really what drives my work because I realized there are a lot of young people who realize they are not worthy of love, or worthy of a quality education, or worthy of all of these things that life is supposed to provide us.”

Shabazz dedicated her career to sharing the importance behind love and support being provided at a young age.

In an exclusive interview with The Lumberjack, Shabazz emphasized the importance of love and humanity and the awareness that people are a reflection of one another.

“In high school, I was at a prep school and not too far down the street was a group home, so we would go and tutor these young people,” Shabazz said. “I was tutoring them in math and then I started realizing that they didn’t have love—that there was no self love.”

Shabazz dedicated her career to sharing the importance behind love and support being provided at a young age. She began advocating for the younger generation and their educational opportunities.

“As I got older, I started realizing that it was really important for me that young people understood that they were worthy of love—that they were worthy of a quality education,” Shabazz said. “Because our education curriculum is not inclusive of historical facts, it makes young people feel that they are not worthy.”

Shabazz felt inspired to write books because she wanted to change how children saw themselves portrayed in history. She specifically wanted to change the narrative of Black history and liberation for children.

“That’s why I write my books,” Shabazz said. “So that children could open up a book, learn some history—learn good history—and then see a reflection of themselves in the story.”

Her family’s legacy and the lessons shaped Shabazz into the person she has become today. An activist who has dedicated her life to working and representing the younger generations.

“It’s about recognizing the humanity in everyone,” Shabazz said. “That we’re all brothers and sisters in the fatherhood or family of God or the creator. That we’re interconnected just because we’re human beings. Just imagine how much better life could be if we didn’t have to fight for someone to stop pressing us or, you know, committing these criminal acts on us and seeing them for as they are.”

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