Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of the late Malcolm X, speaks at the Albany State University ACDA Auditorium during Thursday’s M.L. King Convocation. Shabazz urges students to embrace their ‘history, heritage and identity.’
ALBANY -- Ilyasah Shabazz was just two years old in 1965 when her father, Malcolm X, was gunned down in Manhattan's Audubon Ballroom. At that tender ago, she says she doesn't recall the events of that evening but does remember her famous father's message, which she is spreading to this day.
"It is important for each and every one of us to remember the rich heritage from whence we came," Shabazz told the crowd gathered at Albany State University for the school's M.L. King Convocation. "We've come this far, so there is nothing we cannot accomplish. The important parts of history, heritage and identity, coupled with education and leadership is the way of the future. I want to stress again -- history, heritage and identity."
An author, lecturer and activist, Shabazz gives equal credit to her father and mother, Betty Shabazz, for where she is today.
"Imagine being a single mother of six daughters. How many of you young ladies think you could do that?" Shabazz said. "She never took 'no' or 'I can't' for an answer. Both of my parents shaped who I am today, and it was done with a knowledge of our history.
"I was raised proud to be a Muslim and proud of being African."
Shabazz urged the students to be focused and to become self-reliant.
"Don't look around and expect other people to do things for us. Don't look for leaders when you are the leaders," she said. "To have the sole goal of material gain is unacceptable. I want you to honor your ancestors properly. African is the birthplace of civilization and they were victims of the African holocaust of slavery.
"Take a stand for something you believe in other than material gain."
While some have blamed the plight of African-American youth on apathy, Shabazz says this is not the case.
"The current state is the fault of our generation, for not passing down the legacy that was passed from our parents to us," she said.
Education and involvement, she said, are the keys to the future.
"The message has still not been delivered," Shabazz said. "We still are not conditioned to address the institution of slavery. I didn't think we've even put a Band-Aid on that trauma. It's like the crazy cousin we all have that no one ever talks about.
"The Movement is not over, not as long as 60 percent of our young males are incarcerated, not as long as there are no jobs, and not as long as we have babies having babies.
"Let's be honest, just look around. What we're doing now isn't working.