Ilyasah Shabazz

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Ilyasah Shabazz
Shabazz at the 2014
Brooklyn Book Festival
Born (1962-07-22) July 22, 1962 (age 54)
Queens, New York, United States
Nationality American
Occupation Author, 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 came.[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]


As of 2007, Shabazz worked as Director of Public Affairs and Special Events for the city of Mount Vernon.[13]

Shabazz wrote Growing Up X, her memoir of her childhood and her personal views on her father, in 2002.[14] 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][15]

In 2007, Shabazz was an advising scholar in the award-winning, PBS-broadcast documentary Prince Among Slaves, produced by Unity Productions Foundation.[citation needed] In 2015, her young-adult novel X was published.[16]

Shabazz is the founder of Malcolm X Enterprises and is a trustee for the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center.

Personal life[edit]

Shabazz is a longtime resident of Southern Westchester, living in Mount Vernon for most of her childhood years, and presently in New Rochelle, New York.[citation needed]



  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. 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 January 16, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Blake, p. 109.
  10. ^ Blake, p. 114.
  11. ^ "Ilyasah Shabazz '79 visits the Hilltop". Hackley School. March 12, 2010. Retrieved December 7, 2015. 
  12. ^ Rickford, pp. 421.
  13. ^ a b c Mishkin, Budd (February 26, 2007). "One On 1: Ilyasah Shabazz, Carrying On The Legacy Of Her Father, Malcolm X". NY1. Retrieved December 7, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Malcolm X's Daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, Writes Book, 'Growing Up X'". Jet. June 3, 2002. p. 12. Retrieved January 16, 2011. 
  15. ^ Saad, Shirley (February 4, 2003). "Book of the Week: 'Growing Up X'". UPI. Retrieved January 16, 2011. 
  16. ^ de la Peña, Matt (February 6, 2015). "Becoming Malcolm X". The New York Times. Retrieved March 6, 2015. 

External links[edit]