Malcolm X's daughter speaks of the importance of tolerance | Video
Feb. 13--PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A daughter of Malcolm X, whose mother shielded her from the sight of her father's assassination by gunfire in 1965, came to Rhode Island College on Monday night with a message: "When you educate a girl, you raise a nation."
Ilyasah Shabazz, a New York college professor and author of "Growing Up X," opened her talk, drawing applause, by mentioning how her father inspired the leaders of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s.
"He basically said stand up, men," said Shabazz. "Protect your women. And so they stood up and protected their women against the violence. They made sure that they could get lunches for the children, so they could pay attention in school. I thought, how far have we come..."
Shabazz is one of Malcolm X's six daughters. She talked about the lessons of her own life, from the day her father was shot to death, to her somewhat sheltered life as a young person.
"I learned that in order to love others you have to first learn to love yourself. So it's important to me that my students also understand that they are a reflection of me and I am a reflection of them and that we are interconnected and responsible for one another."
Shabazz is interested in the value systems of young people, in how they develop their own identity. She is concerned about the numbers of young people who are focused on wanting to be rich.
"When a large population of our children says all they want in life is to be rich, we must ask ourselves, what happened? What happened to our humanity? To our compassion?"
"What brought us to a place of individualism where personal wealth and gain are favored ... where tolerance and hope are being trumped by hate and fear," she said.
Shabazz paused for effect and motioned her hand to indicate quotation marks before she said the word "Trumped," drawing applause.
"We have the power and responsibility to reject what's being imposed," she said. "We are a country that cares and not just about our personal well-being but about the condition of our communities and our world at large."
She supports the Black Lives Matter movement, which is different from supporting everything that has been done in its name; she does not endorse flag-burning.
And like many on all sides of the political arena, she has her own take on the name of the movement:
"It's not that we're saying other people's lives don't matter," Shabazz said. "It's that we're saying our lives matter also."
She told her audience that making a difference involves a lot more than coming up with a slogan. It involves setting specific goals and following a plan.
Shabazz talked about adults being responsible for what the next generation turns into.
Based on the applause and on the adulation of the many members in the crowd, Shabazz was a hit.
Omar Reyes, a 30-year-old East Providence resident who is studying for his master's degree, was inspired. He said it was "fantastic."