‘The struggle continues’

Bryan Wroten

Malcolm X’s daughter discusses importance of Africa’s history

Cleopatra and Moses weren’t white.

Elizabeth Taylor and Charlton Heston were.

Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X, spoke last night in the Student Center Ballroom. She emphasized education and service to humanity – two main points made in her book, Growing Up X.

She said blacks need to educate themselves about their African history because they are not learning it in schools. The lack of knowledge about their origins causes a detachment from their identity, she said.

“If your education is not broad-based and diverse, it is not complete,” Shabazz said. “If it is not complete, you will suffer the tragedy of detachment.”

This would leave them hollow and diffused, she said. Without knowledge of Africa’s history, people will think Cleopatra and Moses looked like their Hollywood counterparts, she said.

Some may think the struggle ended in 1863, the year of the Emancipation Proclamation, she said.

“Brothers and sisters, I’m here to remind you the struggle continues,” Shabazz said, at which point the audience applauded.

She said even she has dealt with a form of detachment. Shabazz told the crowd when she was traveling, a customs official asked her for her nationality. She said she was African-American, but the official didn’t understand. She said he asked her from which country in Africa she came. At that point, she said she realized her detachment because she didn’t know about her exact origins.

To combat the detachment, she said blacks need to educate themselves. Then they need to teach their children, as her mother, Betty Shabazz, did. She said her mother was able to raise and teach her six daughters after Malcolm X’s assassination. If her mother was able to do this, students now can, she said.

“Tonight, I challenge each of you to think about what you will provide to humanity,” Shabazz said.

She asked the audience what they saw when they look around. She asked about black students dropping out of high schools disproportionately. She asked them about injustice, inequality and lack of freedom.

Students are part of the “Me” generation, Shabazz said, and they need to work to overcome that. They shouldn’t become doctors for a big paycheck or a car. She said they should be a doctor to provide adequate medical attention to the community, or become lawyers to fight injustice.

Students need to take a stand, she said.

“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Bryan Wroten at [email protected].