DAY 1: Ilyasah Shabazz

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“Experiencing my parents’ transitions has afforded me understanding of human mortality and purpose. I recognize and appreciate that each of our lives will end, and that the meaningful accomplishments during our lifetimes do not include acquiring power, land, or gold.  But rather, the only achievements that will survive eternity and will honor our memories are humble and dedicated service to God, which are the good deeds that uplift the human family.”

These are the words of Ilyasah Al-Shabazz, daughter of human rights activists, the late Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz. Ilyasah wears many service-oriented hats: she is an activist, a community organizer, and a motivational speaker. Her formal education includes a MS degree in Education and Human Resource Development. Her website states:

Ilyasah promotes higher education, interfaith dialogue, and building bridges between cultures for young leaders of the world. She produces The WAKE-UP Tour™, an exclusive youth empowerment program, and participates on international humanitarian delegations. She is the founder of Malcolm X Enterprises and is a Trustee for The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. Ilyasah serves on the Board of the Harlem Symphony Orchestra, is a member of the Arts Committee for the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center, and a Project Advisor for the PBS award-winning documentary, Prince Among Slaves.”

Whew. Those are a lot of hats.

Ilyasah is also an author. In addition to Growing Up X (Random House), she has written a children’s book, Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X, illustrated by A.G. Ford (Atheneum, January 2014).  Reviews of the book include the following: 

“Writing with the fervor and intensity of a motivational speaker, Shabazz recounts her father’s early years, which LITTLE BOY MALCOLM X Coverwere filled with the loving support and teachings of his parents as well as the hate and destruction of the Ku Klux Klan…. With the passion of a preacher, she celebrates love, respect, tolerance and education without restraint…. Ford’s oil paintings, framed on the page, are lush and filled with detail…. A daughter’s proud…tribute to her father and his parents.”  (Kirkus, November 2013)
“Shabazz (Growing Up X) pays affectionate tribute to her father, Malcolm X, and his parents in this account of the activist’s childhood…. Shabazz relays…Malcolm’s resolve to succeed and remain true to his parents’ values after he loses his father ‘to the brute force of racism and the narrow-mindedness of the Ku Klux Klan,’ and his mother is deemed ‘no longer fit to care for her children.’ Ford’s (My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) oil paintings render joyous and desolate moments with equal skill.” (Publishers Weekly, October 2013)

“The author of this handsome, inspirational offering is Malcolm X’s daughter–an educator, activist, and motivational speaker. . . . Ford’s oil paintings are accomplished and historically accurate.” (School Library Journal, January 2014)

Ilyasah currently resides in Westchester County of New York. On this, the first day of 28 Days Later, we celebrate this very meaningful contribution to children’s literature by Ilyasah Shabazz.

*Author photo from Feigen PR

3 thoughts on “DAY 1: Ilyasah Shabazz

  1. MALCOLM LITTLE looks adorable. I’m glad she’s doing this – history studied in school tends to present our leaders as if they didn’t grow into their roles. This will be a book to watch for.

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