Malcolm X's daughters speak at Wake Forest

Ilyasah Shabazz (left) and Attallah Shabazz talk Monday at the 16th annual King Celebration at Wake Forest University.

Attallah Shabazz, the eldest daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, wants to dispel the perception that her father and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were adversaries during the Civil Rights Movement.

Many popular movies about King and Malcolm X perpetuate that myth, Attallah Shabazz told about 1,000 people in Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University on Monday night.

“Dr. King and my father respected each other, but they had different styles,” Shabazz said.

Attallah and her sister, Ilyasah Shabazz, spoke about their experiences as two of the six children of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz at the 16th annual King Celebration at WFU. The program was sponsored by WFU and Winston-Salem State University.

King supported nonviolent civil disobedience in the South, while Malcolm X encouraged rebellion in the North. However, both men changed their views before their deaths and supported common goals of desegregation and voting rights for blacks.

Michele Gillespie, dean of the Wake Forest college and a history professor, told the audience that scholars now believe that King and Malcolm X “had a great admiration for each other.” Gillespie moderated the discussion with the Shabazz sisters.

Ilyasah Shabazz pointed to two photographs on the stage. One picture showed a smiling King and Malcolm X. Another picture showed Betty Shabazz with Coretta Scott King.

The pictures “debunks the myth of division between the families,” Ilyasah Shabazz said. “Our families have been together forever.”

Malcolm X was assassinated in February 1965 in New York City. King was assassinated in April 1968 in Memphis, Tenn. Betty Shabazz died of injuries from a fire in June 1997. Coretta Scott King died in January 2006.

Attallah Shabazz, 57, is a producer, writer and diplomat.

Ilyasah Shabazz, 53, is the third-oldest daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. Ilyasah is an author, community organizer, social activist and motivational speaker.

Attallah Shabazz said King and her father would support the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Black Lives Matter movement sprang from a recent series of killings of unarmed black men and women by police.

“You cannot continue to kill little children and think that their lives don’t matter,” she said.

jhinton@wsjournal.com (336) 727-7299

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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