February 2017 – “Own your power!”
That was the core advice that Ilyasah Shabazz gave to students at Drew University during an inspiring address that explored the legacies of her parents, Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. Repeatedly, Shabazz urged young people to realize their capacity to work together to better humanity, not just for a particular group but everyone. By helping someone else, she reasoned, you help yourself.
“When one of us is mistreated, all of us are mistreated. When one’s human rights are violated, all of our rights are violated,” said Shabazz, an activist, author and professor. “Our humanity must be respected by one another and our humanity must be protected by the law.”
An iconic father
Shabazz’ words echoed those of her iconic father, who redefined civil rights abuses in America as a human rights problem. As he said in 1964, “We can never get civil rights in America until our human rights are first restored. We will never be recognized as citizens until we are first recognized as humans.”