Ilyasah Shabazz is Keynote Speaker for Martin Luther King Remembrance Ceremony in Burlington

BY Lisa Friedman

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, yesterday I attended a speech by Malcolm X’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz. She was the keynote speaker at the remembrance ceremony at the Unitarian Church in Burlington. Her speech was riveting. She spoke about how, as a community, to raise our children in a tone of love and acceptance to help create a better world. She also spoke about getting children involved early in some form of community service and how all children should have goals and be encouraged to be the best they can be. She spoke out strongly against hate crimes and reminded us that children are born with love in their hearts. They learn hate and hate is not natural.

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Ilyasah’s father, Malcolm X, was murdered when she was a young child. Her mother raised her and her five sisters on her own. I believe she said that they all have PhDs. Her indomitable mother worked hard to raise a strong family and never gave up, despite the odds. Ilyasah spoke of how her mother threw herself on top of her children to protect them as her husband was being gunned down with twenty two bullets and told of a Molatov cocktail being thrown into the nursery window shortly after her twin sisters were born just after her father was murdered. What a difficult life that must have been for a widowed woman of color to raise six young daughters on her on in the 1960’s.

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The ceremony opened with the children’s choir and closed with hymns by the lively gospel choir. I had never been to such a ceremony before and truly enjoyed the energy and sense of community that was fostered.

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Ilyasah spoke of the deep friendship between her family and that of Dr. King’s family. I enjoyed listening to Ilyasah’s speech very much and wished I could have listened to her for several more hours, or even speak with her personally. I am going to purchase her memoir, ‘Growing up X’. Her story is fascinating. I would encourage anyone to look up this very interesting woman.

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