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02.02.11

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Revolutionary Legacy

By Leilani Clark


In an interview with Block Report Radio last fall, Malcolm Shabazz, sole grandson of Malcolm X, said that the "true revolutionary is one that constantly strives to evolve and revolve into greater stages of maturity." Considering that Shabazz spent the greater part of his teen years in juvenile detention, where he landed at the age of 13 after setting a 1997 fire that killed his grandmother Betty Shabazz, these words couldn't be more apt for a man who seems to be attempting to recreate his own life.

"Like my grandfather, I don't necessarily come from the streets, but I gravitated towards that," says Shabazz in a phone interview with the Bohemian, speaking about a drug-dealing lifestyle that ended with his six years in prison, "but if you look at my life today, it's a lot different."

Shabazz recently returned from Mecca , where as a devout Muslim, he completed his first Hajj. He says that he tried to keep sight of his purpose, even as he struggled with walking long distances barefoot, in the heat and fighting the flu.

"You had to practice patience," he says. "All the hardships made it that much more meaningful because anything worth having is worked for."

On Saturday, Feb. 12, at the Santa Rosa Peace and Justice Center, Shabazz will speak about his pilgrimage to Mecca. He will also talk about a trip to the Pan-Afrikan conference in Libya in January 2011. As part of a delegation that included former U.S. congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, the 26-year-old activist spoke to a crowd, including designated Reagan-era "bad guy" Muammar Gaddafi, about the need for unity. In a speech that he says received a standing ovation, Shabazz discussed so-called European unity, Malcolm X's fondness for Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba (whose daughter was attending the conference) and his grandfather's work with the Organization of African Unity.

During his Hajj, Shabazz says that he reflected back on his grandfather's experiences and how they connected to his own; Malcolm X himself made a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1965, months before he was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York.

"When he first started traveling abroad, a door was opened up for him," says Shabazz "The legacy goes on. They say you can kill the revolutionary, but you can't kill the revolution."

Hajj Malcolm El Shabazz will speak at the Peace and Justice Center on Saturday, Feb. 12. 467 Sebastopol Ave. 5:30pm. Free. 707.575.8902


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