Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Malcolm Shabazz Engages Santa Cruz

Grandson of Malcolm X disputes new book on the Muslim leader

Posted: 07/19/2011 10:01:25 PM PDT

Grandson of Malcolm X, Hajj Malcolm Shabazz, talks to a group at Barrios... (John Williams/Sentinel)

SANTA CRUZ - Hajj Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson of Malcolm X, visited Santa Cruz on Tuesday to talk about politics, prison treatment, the uprising in Libya and the legacy of his grandfather.

Shabazz, 26, spoke to an audience of roughly 50 people at Barrios Unidos, the longtime nonprofit dedicated to preventing gang violence. The event was designed to raise money for the San Francisco Bay View, a largely black publication.

Since being released from prison two years ago, Shabazz, who lives in New York City and attends John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has traveled throughout the world to address matters of social injustice, mistreatment in U.S. prisons and religion. He calls America "the land of smoke and mirrors" because he believes its leaders, of all political parties, don't often practice what they preach to the rest of the world.

For example, he said, the U.S. is the only country to have dropped a nuclear bomb, but repeatedly demands other nations to abandon their nuclear programs.

Shabazz is a staunch defender of his grandfather, a famous minister with the controversial Nation of Islam in the 1950s.

Malcolm X split from the Nation of Islam and founded The Muslim Mosque before his assassination in February 1965 at age 39. "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" is one of the most widely read books ever published.

However, a new book, "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention" came out in April that paints the Muslim leader in a less than flattering light.

Shabazz, who was born 20 years after his grandfather's death, says the book written by black history scholar Manning Marable - who died in April before the book was published - is full of "off-the-wall stuff made up out of the blue." In particular, Shabazz disputes Marable describing his grandparents' marriage as "loveless," and that his grandfather was unfaithful.

Tuesday's program at Barrios Unidos included commentary about the hunger strikes taking place at Pelican Bay and Corcoran state prisons since July 1.

Manuel LaFontaine, a strike supporter who has served time in a security housing unit, also known as isolation, said the community needs to band together to protect prisoners from mistreatment.

"We gotta be more than just activists," LaFontaine said. "These brothers need us. The body can only last so long. If this continues, we actually have a life and death matter on our hands."

1 comment:

  1. Tonight at the Barrios was powerful. At 26, you already have much responsibility. Consequently, the visit to the Middle East is an experience that needs to be told again and again to as many as will listen.

    It's true dignity and self respect are challenged to emerge from a state of "smoke and mirrors." But your grandfather succeeded famously here. So too will you.

    Thank you.