Malcolm X’s daughter says young BLM protesters are ‘much like’ her father

The daughter of civil rights activist Malcolm X has told Sky News she believes this generation of young people are “much like” her father and will be “sick and tired” of racism.

Ilyasah Shabazz, an author and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said those taking part in Black Lives Matter protests now are similar to those who called for change in the 1960s.

“[We must] make sure we are accomplishing these goals so that when the marching, demonstrating and protests are over, it doesn’t just fall to the wayside and we don’t just find ourselves 50 years from now in the same space where Malcolm was 50 years ago,” she said.

A man waves a Black Lives Matter flag during a protest over the Minneapolis death of George Floyd while in police custody outside CNN Center on May 29, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Image:A man waves a Black Lives Matter flag during a protest in Atlanta, Georgia

But Ms Shabazz said the seeds of change have already been planted.

“My father said that it would be this generation that would get sick and tired, that they would recognise the people in power have misused it.

“And that they will no longer sit by idly and allow these injustices to continue. I saw many people’s protesting signs and they said ‘we are not our ancestors’.”

Malcolm X holds up a newspaper during a rally in New York City in 1963
Image:Malcolm X holding up a newspaper during a rally in New York City in 1963

She continued: “I think that this generation of young people are much like my father. They’re not going to be distracted by the things that don’t matter and they’re really thinking.”

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Malcolm X was the principal spokesperson for radical black Muslim group Nation of Islam, before he renounced the group and encouraged allyship with oppressed people globally.

He was assassinated in New York on 21 February 1965.

Malcolm X Speaks At Muslim Rally
Image:Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965

Ms Shabazz said the civil rights movement is still fighting for many of the things her father fought for, but people should instead be able to live in peace.

“The only way we’re going to get rid of this awful cancer is by getting involved and ending it,” she said.

“We should not have to spend our lives from the time we can walk to the time we perish fighting injustice.”

George Floyd’s death had come at a time when everyone is “more sensitive” during the coronavirus pandemic, Ms Shabazz said.

Black Lives Matter protesters have been demonstrating since George Floyd's killing in the US
Image:Black Lives Matter protesters hold up a sign

“It was just so awful. It was absolutely horrendous that someone could just rather matter-of-factly steal his life with his neck.

“That is what you call the most wicked death ever.”

Ms Shabazz said that while people are at home self-isolating, many have had the opportunity to question life – and that has made Mr Floyd’s death all the more devastating.

“Life and death. Am I going to live or am I going to survive? Is this how I’m going to say goodbye to the world?” she said.

“And while we’re even questioning who’s going to live and who’s not, here is someone taking someone else’s life.”

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Asked how she felt about President Donald Trump’s reaction to the protests, Ms Shabazz said it was good for people to be “awakened” to the “kinds of people that actually exist out there”.

“To have him spewing some of the things that he says and then to see an officer steal someone’s life the way he did and that continuing, people are understanding the challenges that blacks have experienced for the last 500 years,” she said.

Race and Revolution: Is Change Going to Come?

Sky News will broadcast a global debate show on Tuesday night at 8pm – looking at the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter protests, and examining institutional racism and how we fix it.

If you would like to be part of our virtual audience, and have a chance of putting a question to our panel, please send your name, location and question to

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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