As this year marks the 50th anniversary of Malcolm X’s death, his daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz commemorated his life by teaching children valuable lessons that she learned from her father.
“Malcolm X was one of the world’s greatest leaders for human rights of all people,” Shabazz said of her father, one of the most compelling civil rights leaders of his generation before his 1965 assassination.
Shabazz used readings from her books about her father to get her message across. Stories of her father in her children’s book, “Malcolm Little,” were like mini parables for teaching the children at Merrick Academy, who attended the event, ways to live their lives. Shabazz and her father, sisters and mother lived in East Elmhurst at the time of his death.
In one snippet of the book, Shabazz told a story of her father learning some lessons in his mother’s garden. His mother taught him to love each individual living creature the same, no matter how beautiful or ugly it was, Shabazz read. “The garden was a testament to true unconditional brotherhood from the earth on up to the sky. Each individual creature had a story, a purpose, a reason for being and a beauty of its own.”
She told the children to always believe in themselves and that they could accomplish any goal if their mind was set to it, something that Congressman Gregory Meeks echoed during the event.
“There probably would not be a Gregory Meeks if there was not a Malcolm X,” he said. “He is a part of not only black history, but American history too.”
Meeks said seeing Malcolm X speak firsthand was an experience that no one can ever take away from him. He mentioned that when watching Malcolm’s speeches, he realized that he should be proud to be a black man in America.
Shabazz was an infant when her father was assassinated in uptown Manhattan while speaking at the Audobon Ballroom in 1965. Just months earlier, his East Elmhurst home had been firebombed. The family escaped unhurt.
Along with her children’s book, she unveiled her new book on her father called “X.” This takes the reader through her father’s years as a human rights leader. Before his death at 39, Malcolm X, a Muslim, had returned from a trip to Mecca where he prayed alongside people of different races and cultures, and came back with a new, more hopeful message.
According to his estate’s official biography, “He returned to the United States with a new outlook on integration and a new hope for the future. This time when Malcolm spoke, instead of just preaching to African-Americans, he had a message for all races.”
“I can’t believe it has been 50 years,” said Meeks, as he recalled seeing his father cry for the first time on that day. “He was our black shining prince. He taught us that we are all equal.”