Ilyasah Shabazz

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Ilyasah Shabazz
Shabazz at the 2014
Brooklyn Book Festival
Born (1962-07-22) July 22, 1962 (age 57)
OccupationAuthor, motivational speaker, community organizer, social activist

Ilyasah Shabazz (born July 22, 1962) is the third daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. She is an author, most notably of a memoir, Growing Up X, community organizer, social activist, and motivational speaker.

Early life[edit]

Shabazz was born in Queens, New York, on July 22, 1962. She was named after Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, the religious and Black nationalist group to which her parents belonged.[1]

In February 1965, when she was two years old, Shabazz was present, with her mother and sisters, at the assassination of her father.[2] She says she has no memory of the event.[3]

Shabazz had an apolitical upbringing in a racially integrated neighborhood in Mount Vernon, New York. Her family never took part in demonstrations or attended rallies.[4] Together with her sisters, she joined Jack and Jill, a social club for the children of well-off African Americans.[5] She considered an acting career, though her mother was not supportive.[6] Her mother instead took interest in trying to keep her father's presence alive, and baked her cookies, which she would break a piece off to give the impression that her father had eaten it before she arrived.[7]

Concerning her father, Shabazz told an interviewer, "My mother always talked about our father, her husband, but ... she didn't talk about these things that defined my father as the icon."[8] To learn about her father, Shabazz read his autobiography as a college student,[9] and enrolled in a class to learn more.[10]

Shabazz was a student at Hackley School.[11] After high school, she attended State University of New York at New Paltz.[12] When she arrived, other African-American students expected her to be a firebrand. They had already elected her an officer of the Black Student Union.[9]

After graduating, Shabazz earned a master's degree in Education and Human Resource Development from Fordham University.[13]


Shabazz worked for the city of Mount Vernon for more than a dozen years, serving at different times as Director of Public Relations, Director of Public Affairs and Special Events, and Director of Cultural Affairs.[14]

Shabazz wrote Growing Up X, her memoir of her childhood and her personal views on her father, in 2002.[15] It was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Nonfiction.[16] A devout Muslim, she made the pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj, in 2006 as her father had in 1964 and her mother did in 1965.[13][17]

In 2014, Shabazz wrote Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X, a children's book about her father's childhood.[18] It was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Children's.[19] The following year, she wrote a young-adult novel, X, about the same subject.[20] The book was among the ten finalists considered for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature[21][22] and it won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Youth/Teens.[23] It also won honors from the Coretta Scott King Awards[24] and the Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children's Literature.[25] Her middle-grade novel about her mother's childhood, Betty Before X, was published in January 2018.[26][27]

Shabazz is a trustee for the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, the Malcolm X Foundation, and the Harlem Symphony Orchestra. As of 2017, she is an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Shabazz is a longtime resident of Southern Westchester. She grew up in Mount Vernon and presently lives in New Rochelle.[28][29]


  • with Kim McLarin (2002). Growing Up X: A Memoir by the Daughter of Malcolm X. New York: One World. ISBN 978-0-345-44495-0.
  • ——— (2014). Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X. Illustrated by A.G. Ford. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN 978-1-4424-1216-3.
  • Boyd, Herb; ———, eds. (2014). The Diary of Malcolm X: 1964. Chicago: Third World Press. ISBN 978-0-88378-351-1.
  • with Kekla Magoon (2015). X: A Novel. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press. ISBN 978-0-763-66967-6.
  • with Renée Watson (2018). Betty Before X. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-30610-6.


  1. ^ Rickford, Russell J. (2003). Betty Shabazz: A Remarkable Story of Survival and Faith Before and After Malcolm X. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks. p. 123. ISBN 978-1-4022-0171-4.
  2. ^ Rickford, pp. 226–232.
  3. ^ "Daughter of Malcolm on 'Growing Up X'". CNN. July 10, 2002. Archived from the original on June 22, 2011. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
  4. ^ Blake, John (2004). Children of the Movement. Chicago: Lawrence Hill. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-55652-537-7.
  5. ^ Rickford, pp. 347–348.
  6. ^ Rickford, p. 123.
  7. ^ Rickford, p. 297.
  8. ^ Duke, Lynne (July 10, 2002). "A Life All Her Own: In Her Autobiography, Malcolm X's Daughter Steps From His Shadow". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  9. ^ a b Blake, p. 109.
  10. ^ Blake, p. 114.
  11. ^ "Ilyasah Shabazz '79 visits the Hilltop". Hackley School. March 12, 2010. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  12. ^ Rickford, pp. 421.
  13. ^ a b Mishkin, Budd (February 26, 2007). "One On 1: Ilyasah Shabazz, Carrying On The Legacy Of Her Father, Malcolm X". NY1. Archived from the original on September 29, 2015. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Ilyasah Shabazz". New Jersey Education Association. November 2017. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  15. ^ "Malcolm X's Daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, Writes Book, 'Growing Up X'". Jet. June 3, 2002. p. 12. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
  16. ^ "2003 NAACP Image Award". Awards and Winners. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  17. ^ Saad, Shirley (February 4, 2003). "Book of the Week: 'Growing Up X'". UPI. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
  18. ^ "Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X". Publishers Weekly. October 28, 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  19. ^ "All 223 NAACP Image Award Winning and Honored Books". Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  20. ^ de la Peña, Matt (February 6, 2015). "Becoming Malcolm X". The New York Times. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  21. ^ "Malcolm X's Daughter Ilyasah Shabazz Among Book Awards Finalists". EURWeb. September 14, 2015. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  22. ^ "2015 National Book Awards". National Book Foundation. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  23. ^ Lewis, Taylor (February 5, 2016). "See the Complete List of Winners from the 2016 NAACP Image Awards". Essence. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  24. ^ "Coretta Scott King Book Awards - All Recipients, 1970-Present". American Library Association. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  25. ^ Baker, Jennifer (March 19, 2016). "At Inaugural Walter Award Honorees Ask Industry To Make Change Happen And Encourage Diverse Readers". Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  26. ^ "Betty Before X". Kirkus Reviews. November 1, 2017. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  27. ^ "Betty Before X". Publishers Weekly. October 30, 2017. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  28. ^ Yarnell, Laurie (September 22, 2009). "Living the High Life". Westchester Magazine. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  29. ^ Higgins, Lee; Rauch, Ned P. (May 13, 2013). "2 arrested in death of Malcolm X's grandson". The Journal News. Retrieved November 19, 2017.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]