Children of Civil Rights Leaders Are Keeping Their Eyes on the Prize

By Jennie Rothenberg Gritz , Katie Nodjimbadem , Matthew Shaer , Thomas Stackpole – Smithsonian Magazine September 1, 2016 9:02AMThe next generation is following in the footsteps of its forebears

As a part of the September issue devoted to the grand opening of the Smithsonian’s newest museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, our writers caught up with Bernice King, Ilyasah Shabazz, Cheryl Brown Henderson, Gina Belafonte, Ayanna Gregory and Ericka Suzanne, all children of prominent Civil Rights leaders of the 1960s and ’70s. Here are their stories:


Ilyasah Shabazz

Her father advocated using either “the ballot or the bullet.” But Ilyasah Shabazz wants to show another side of Malcolm X

Ilyasah Shabazz was just 2 years old and sitting in the audience with her pregnant mother and three sisters when her father was assassinated onstage at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City in 1965.

Malcolm X, the magnetic and polarizing spokesman for the Nation of Islam, had broken with the black nationalist group, and three Nation members were convicted of the killing. The “apostle of violence as a solution to the American Negro’s problems…was murdered today,” the New York Herald Tribune reported, nodding at Malcolm X’s exhortation to use “any means necessary” to achieve equality.

In his eulogy, the actor Ossie Davis expressed a more nuanced view, lamenting the loss of “our living, black manhood.”
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