“A proper interpretation of historical facts helps us better understand our place in the human family,” Ilyasah Shabazz said about the significance of historical facts to an audience of over 200 at the Ponderosa Room in the student union Jan. 12.
With this premise, Shabazz gave a different perspective of the endeavors of her father that consequently led him to become one of the most prominent civil rights leaders of his time, Malcolm X.
She gave the audience context of the harsh realities and situations taking place in the U.S. that her father was fighting against.
“Many people don’t know that just in his twenties, Malcolm X rallied against lynching, murder, rape and theft of African resources and labor,” she said. “He was a man of great compassion willing to take a stand for others.”
In contrast to how Malcolm X’s story is often portrayed and perceived, such as in the 1992 film “Malcolm X,” Shabazz told of the positive environment in which he was raised. According to Shabazz, Malcolm X’s parents prepared him with leadership skills, literacy and responsibility.
Along with a factual stories of her father’s life, Shabazz also stressed how a proper grasp on history can empower individuals and provide the opportunity to give back to the culture.
“If we strive to achieve as individuals, we must give back to society,” she said.
Sophomore Yolima Rey, a political science major from Colombia, particularly enjoyed this part of Shabazz’s message. “I like how she pointed out the potential of greatness we have and how it’s tied to our responsibility of giving back,” she said.
Shabazz’s presentation was in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“I am humbled and honored to be here on this occasion to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.,” she said. Despite a celebrated different approach in the civil rights movement by MLK and Malcolm X, Shabazz pointed out that the King and Shabazz families were close. “As a nation we are not forced to choose George Washington over Thomas Jefferson. We accept them both for the fight for freedom,” she said. Likewise, she pointed out, MLK and Malcolm X had a common endeavor. They sought justice for people.
Juan Guzman, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs was one of the leading event organizers.
“It was great to bring someone of this caliber to speak to our students. She has exceptional insights and has been great to work with,” he said.
It was Shabazz’s unique perspectives that senior Clifford Bodie from the Bahamas was after. “She is very knowledgeable of her father’s history and the culture. As a Bahamian, I am looking to gain more of that knowledge.”