Malcolm X's daughter explains father's intent
By Katheran Wasson
November 12, 2010
Attallah Shabazz, daughter of civil rights leader Malcolm X, spoke to
Kentucky State University students Thursday about her father's legacy
and urged them to embrace their own.
"It's not just when you're gone," she said, to a standing-room-only
crowd at the Bradford Hall Auditorium. "It's how you live right now."
Shabazz, the eldest of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz's six
daughters, is currently a scholar in residence at the University of
Louisville. She spoke at the University of Kentucky Wednesday.
She told KSU students that they don't have to wait until they are 30
or 40 to build their own legacy. That means "being your best self"
now, she said, not seeking fame or notoriety later.
"I'm the daughter of a man who was assassinated I don't feel like a
star. I would rather have him here," she said. "I'm the daughter of a
woman who was left without her husband."
Shabazz's father was killed in 1965 by three members of the Nation of
Islam, a religious organization he'd left the year before. He was 39,
and his eldest daughter was just 6.
"I'm the daughter who, in the middle of the night, would listen to my
mother smother her tears, but not in the sunrise when she was making
breakfast," she said. "An autograph doesn't fix that, a movie doesn't
Her mother died in 1997 from injuries sustained in a fire at her
apartment. Her 12-year-old grandson was later charged with starting the blaze.
"As a daughter, I would just rather have a dad. I would rather just
have a mom," she said. "They were great people, whether you know
their names or not."
She encouraged students to thank their parents and grandparents, and
the people who inspire them. Her father was a first-generation
American, who was an honor student as an adolescent and wanted to be a lawyer.
According to Malcolm X's official website, he lost interest in school
after his favorite teacher said his dream wasn't realistic.
He dropped out of school, worked odd jobs in Boston, and then
traveled to Harlem, N.Y., where he committed petty crimes. By 1942
Malcolm was coordinating narcotics, prostitution and gambling rings.
"You only do my father justice when you really take into
consideration the circumference of who he was," Shabazz said.
Malcolm X would have celebrated his 85th birthday this year, and
Shabazz said people approached her, wanting to do something to
remember him. She didn't want to appear on CNN or do interviews, she
said, but focus on inspiring young people instead.
She formed Inspiration Dowries, a campaign for youth "in the spirit
of humanity by any means necessary."
The phrase "by any means necessary," used by Malcolm X during a
speech in the last year of his life, is often used in a violent or
aggressive context, she said.
"That's not the intent," she said. "It doesn't mean hurt somebody by
any means necessary. It means be your best self by any means necessary."
Shabazz has spent 35 years speaking throughout the United States,
Europe, Central America, the Caribbean and Africa about the
importance of culture, personal development and empowerment.
She also creates educational programs focused on diversity for
schools, corporations, organizations and correctional systems.
Shabazz founded the Pilgrimage Foundation, Tapestry Bridge, Legacy
Inc. and Malcolm X Shabazz Birthplace and Foundation, organizations
that serve the underprivileged, principles she said she learned from
her parents and grandparents.
Prime Minister of Belize named her ambassador at large in 2002, and
she has served as a cabinet member of the Ministries of Human
Development, Culture, Education and Youth and Sports and was a
participant in U.S. State Department diplomatic briefing forums.
She works to create unity and understanding among cultures.
She is an author, penning articles and opinion pieces for national
magazines and newspapers. She wrote the new foreword for The
Autobiography of Malcolm X.
Malcolm X's daughter talks about learning from heritage, creating legacy
November 10, 2010
By Nicole Schladt
Legacy and heritage play a vital role in human development, a famous
activist's daughter told UK students Wednesday night.
Ambassador Attallah Shabazz, daughter of civil rights activist
Malcolm X, spoke before an audience of students and community members
as part of a series of speaking engagements throughout Central Kentucky.
"(Your legacy) is your brand, your trademark," Shabazz said. "Legacy
has air. It breathes, it inhales, it exhales. It moves, it travels."
Shabazz, currently serves as a scholar-in-residency at the University
of Louisville. Raised in Mt. Vernon, New York, Shabazz attended the
United Nations International School in Manhattan. She was
six-years-old when her father was assassinated.
"I will always be a child who watched her father hit the ground
backward," Shabazz said.
During her talk, Shabazz discussed the importance of her father and
other family members, including her mother and grandparents, in
creating her own personal legacy.
"Being a Shabazz has not always been an easy road," she said.
"Somewhere in the '90s it was finally okay to be Malcolm's daughter."
History Professor Dr. Jakobi Williams described Shabazz as a
renaissance woman, a producer, a writer, and a diplomat.
"She is one of the world's most sought-after speakers," he said.
Shabazz's lecture was an "exclamation point" to a full calendar of
events for the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center on campus,
center Director Chester Grundy said.
"(Through these cultural events) we hope to create a student that is
not just a citizen of Lexington, Kentucky, but a citizen of the
world," Grundy said.
Malcolm X's daughter follows in his steps: Humanitarian brings
'legacy' lecture to UK
November 9, 2010
by Taylor Moak
UK students will be able to hear the eldest daughter of civil rights
activist Malcolm X discuss heritage and legacy during a lecture Wednesday.
Attallah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, is a
scholar-in-residency at the University of Louisville and has a
mini-tour of speaking dates in Central Kentucky, said Chester Grundy,
director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center.
Her lecture "Embracing Your Legacy. 'Everybody Has One,'" will be
held at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Center Theater. The event is
free and open to the public.
Grundy said Shabazz's agent contacted UK about the possibility of her
coming to speak on campus.
Malcolm X was one of the most important in social issues and politics
of the century in this country, Grundy said, and Shabazz's family has
been at the center of history.
Shabazz was 6 at the time of her father's death, and Grundy said that
she emerged as an adult in a much more public way than her siblings.
He said Malcolm X's thinking was visionary, far-reaching and profound
and that his eldest daughter is a "humanitarian of the first order."
"She is, in her own right, a real champion of values we should all
aspire to," Grundy said.
In 2002, Shabazz was appointated as an ambassador-at-large by the
prime minister of Belize.
Grundy said he first met Shabazz 24 years ago when she was touring
with the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. in a play called
"Stepping Into Tomorrow."
Grundy said the event is a collaboration of five campus departments:
the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center, College of Social Work,
Office of Community Engagement, Office of Institutional Diversity and
the African Studies and Research Program.
Sonja Feist-Price, professor and director of graduate studies in the
Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling, said
in an e-mail to the Kernel that the presentation is an opportunity
for the UK community to learn from the daughter of one of the primary
leaders of the civil rights movement.
"While times have changed, some of our issues remain the same,"
Feist-Price said in an e-mail.
Grundy said this lecture is an example of "one more value-added
experience of being a college student."
Her lecture will help "people see that they're part of something much
bigger than themselves," Grundy said.