UNION, NJ – Kicking off Women’s History Month, Ilyasha Shabazz, one of six daughters of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, visited Van Gogh’s Ear Tuesday evening for a meet and greet with residents discussing African American and women’s issues with the crowd.

“Ilyasha’s life’s work is devoted to others to help find inner strength and passion,” said Fatimah Raymond, Executive Director of the Special Improvement District, upon introducing Shabazz.  “While she is frequently asked to speak about the legacy of Malcolm X, she shares that it was her mother, Dr. Betty Shabazz’s wisdom, courage, compassion that guides her.”  The Union SID hosted the event.

Mayor Suzette Cavadas and Committeewoman Michele Delisfort engaged in a discussion with Shabazz about women’s issues, particularly related to young girls today.

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“You are a daughter of a strong black woman and a leader who educated the black community about their history and who called them forth to be part of a movement that would help African Americans exercise their civil liberties,” said Delisfort to Shabazz. 

Delisfort read a quote from Malcolm X contained in Shabazz’s young adult novel, “Betty Before X”:   “When you educate a boy, you teach a community.  When you educate a girl, you raise a nation.”

About her mother’s inspiration, Shabazz said, “she’s such an inspiration.  She’s the woman Malcolm X chose and I was really curious to find what it was about her.  She was very compassionate, very supportive, very trustworthy.”

Shabazz said her mother raised her and her five sisters “with so much love and with the understanding of our responsibility back to society.  I saw there were many young people who might not have had what my mother gave me and I wanted to share that.”

Shabazz is the author of three award-winning books, including “Growing Up X”, published in 2002, which recounts her childhood and how she personally viewed her father. It was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Nonfiction.

In 2014, Shabazz wrote “Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X”, a children's book about her father's childhood. It was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Children's. The following year, she wrote a young-adult novel, “X”, again reflecting on her father’s formative years. The book was among the ten finalists considered for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature and it won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Youth/Teens. It also won honors from the Coretta Scott King Awards and the Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children's Literature.