Ilyasah Al Shabazz gives MLK Week Keynote

Back to All Stories

Ilyasah Al Shabazz, daughter of civil rights leader Malcolm X, spoke to a packed Love Auditorium in Olin Hall last Wednesday, wrapping up this year’s MLK Week celebration.

Shabazz is a community organizer, educator, social activist, motivational speaker, and author. Her most well-known book, Growing Up X, is both a personal memoir and a tribute to her parents.

The keynote address was focused on the Black Lives Matter social movement. Shabazz spoke to the importance of compassion and the idea that hatred is a learned behavior.

“We cannot point fingers at others without first pointing fingers at ourselves,” Shabazz said. “Each of us have an obligation to stand up and right the wrongs of society. Young people, this is your time to invest in yourselves by any means necessary — with a quality education, with significant purpose to your lives, with utilizing power to be your absolute best.”

Shabazz’s address served as a call to action for young people, as well as a discussion of the history of social activism in America. Her goal is to encourage a new generation to recognize their power to enact positive change.

“My father was just in his 20s, not much older than most of you here today, when the world would learn of him,” Shabazz said. “Brother Malcolm stood up against the injustices around him. He came along and said, ‘We demand our human rights as your brothers.’ He did not compromise; he lived his entire life serving his country.”

Shabazz’s address was followed by a brief question and answer period, which included discussion of the presidential candidates, personal identity, Malcolm X, and structural violence.

Other events that took place during MLK Week included MLK Day of Service, an address by student speaker Alexandria Davis ’16, a screening of The New Black at the Hamilton Theater, and a variety of workshops designed to spark important conversations.

Related Links:
ALANA celebrates MLK week
Keynote Address by Kori Strother ’15
Joyce Ladner speaks during MLK week