Dr. Ilyasah Shabazz urges the Black community to stay focused on fighting against inequality 

The educator and activist talks leadership, life lessons and her late father Malcolm X’s impact on the Black community

Educator and activist Dr. Ilyasah Shabazz talks about leadership, her late and great father Malcolm X’s impact, the lesson she learned from her mother and more during an interview with theGrio. 

When it comes to leadership, Dr. Shabazz learned from one of the most influential leaders in Black history. Malcolm X’s legacy reaches across generations because of his unyielding fight for civil rights. She said when it comes to recognizing which leaders should be supported, people should look for those who are fearless and have their best interests at heart. 

Malcolm X
Malcolm X arrives on Feb. 17, 1965 at London Airport carrying a portable cine camera. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

“There is that African proverb, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together and understand the necessity for us to be united’.” Dr. Shabazz said. “It doesn’t matter [if you are] Muslim, Christian light, dark, natural, not natural, but recognizing what our larger goal is, and that’s liberty and justice for all of us.”

There have been countless biographical movies and television shows such as Spike Lee’s Malcolm X and Regina King’s One Night In Miami that have portrayed the life of Malcolm X. Dr. Shabazz said they were created not to make him famous, but to provide information that would be beneficial to younger generations. After the tragic death of George Floyd in 2020, Malcolm X’s words were cited more than 53,000 times per day, which was an indication for Dr. Shabazz that young people were attracted to her father’s timeless truth.

Dr. Ilyasah Shabazz attends a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival in Massachusetts. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival)

Racism and inequality still exist in America. Dr. Shabazz believes that as a collective people need to stay focused on change and avoid getting too comfortable. Change comes through implementing policies and staying on top of them.

“When we are marching, demonstrating [and] protesting, [we have to] understand why we’re out there doing these things, [so that] we’re more organized and more strategic,” she said. “Otherwise, we’re out there marching, demonstrating and doing all of these things, but we’ve accomplished nothing.”

In addition to her father, Dr. Shabazz’s mother played a significant role in instilling so many values and lessons in her. As the wife of a man who challenged the government, she experienced a lot of terror and trauma throughout her life, but in spite of that Dr. Shabazz said that her mother never gave into bitterness.

She never accepted no for an answer and manifested everything she was able to accomplish. From her mother, Dr. Shabazz gained a spirit of resilience and an uplifted mindset.

Kayla Grant is a multimedia journalist with bylines in Shondaland, Oz Magazine, Prism, rolling out and more. She writes about culture, books and entertainment news. Follow her on Twitter: @TheKaylaGrant.

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