Mar 012012
Authors: Mikaela Antonelli

On Feb. 23, the north ballroom of the Lory Student Center was flooded with people eager to hear the final speaker for Black History Month, Ilyasha Shabazz.

Ilyasha Shabazz is the daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. She is best known for her autobiography “Growing up X.” She is a strong advocate for young people everywhere and their education.

Before she spoke, a short video was presented that highlighted her accomplishments. Shabazz worked with the organization “Malaria No More” in Africa, helping people effected by malaria arm themselves against the disease.

Shabazz began her speech by empowering students to continue their education.

“The young people are very important,” she said, urging college students to promote equality. “There is no peace without freedom, no freedom without justice and no justice without truth.”

Shabazz stressed that every child should have the opportunity to feel good about themselves and to feel loved and beautiful. No child should be left behind. She mentioned that most children say that they simply want to be rich when they grow up. She encouraged the youth of America to want more out of their education and do something for the greater good, not just in order to afford a better lifestyle or a bigger house.

Shabazz spoke with conviction and drew the room in with her personal story; she began to speak of what it was like to actually “grow up X.”

“I remember hearing my daddy’s voice with such conviction… Mommy said that he was the only one that I would listen to,” Shabazz said.

In the course of about two weeks, Shabazz’s mother went through hell and back, but still managed to carry on. She explained how a week before her father died, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the window of the room where her sisters were sleeping. The following week, Malcolm X was assassinated.

Shabazz explains how her father and herself would always share cookies at night when he got home. When he was assassinated, her mother didn’t know quite how to tell her so she simply broke a cookie in half and left it for her. Her mother stayed strong and practiced “pretending everything was okay,” so that her six daughters would never live in fear.

In the closing minutes of her speech she spoke of African history. She states that many people believe that “the struggle died with king, it died with Malcolm X,” but we need to continue to raise awareness and open up a dialogue about how we can have equality across the board.

She spoke of the Jewish Holocaust: how Jews will never forget and how proud they are of their heritage. Shabazz argued that many African-Americans have lost that pride. She also argued that many people are trying to gradually erase the history of the American slave trade from text books.

“We need to remember this history…know how our civilization started,” Shabazz said.

The meaning of life, according to Shabazz, is to “be our best selves and stand worthy to honor our ancestors.”

Finally, Shabazz reiterated her point that the young people as a whole need to stand and be proud of their education and aspirations, and that we need to be our best selves.

At the conclusion of her speech, the entire ballroom gave Ilyasha Shabazz a well-deserved standing ovation.

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