Black History Month came alive at the Co-Op City church in the Bronx when a daughter of an iconic black power figure walked through the doors. Malaak Shabazz, the youngest daughter of Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X, visited the church on February 22, for a riveting Adventist Youth program that took place a day after the 55th anniversary of Malcolm X’s death. Shabazz was born seven months after her father was assassinated in Harlem in 1965.
Shabazz, an international human rights activist, who has worked with the United Nations for 35 years, shared about her upbringing, heaping praise on her mother—a young widow who raised six daughters “in a climate of hate” and went on to earn a doctorate.
Before a packed congregation, Shabazz talked about her passion for education and people learning about their history and identity. A panel of young adults interviewed her and touched on various topics, including her parents’ legacy, the difference between civil rights and human rights, and generational differences. The audience then peppered her with their own queries. This was Shabazz’s first presentation at a Seventh-day Adventist church and she acknowledged the warm welcome she received.
Nathaniel Frederick, 16, Co-Op City’s AY leader, said the program “was radical and it was necessary,” particularly the emphasis on education. “There’s still a lot of work to be done; the topics we see going on today are mirror images of what [went on] back in that time. It’s important to open our eyes.”
Kevin Thompson, an AY assistant leader and friend of Shabazz, was encouraged by the congregation’s response. “We wanted it to be something that reaches all different ages to wake up and know that there are still activists out here, fighting for human rights and . . . as a people to remember our dreams and as a church, our need to refocus.”
—Kaara Baptiste-Harris, Youth Ministries department, Greater New York Conference