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Ilyasah Shabazz Speaks at QCC to Celebrate Black History Month

Contact: Karen Hutner
Office of Institutional Communications
khutner [at]

Release Date: 

WORCESTER, MA— February 22, 2023 — As part of Black History Month, Ilyasah Shabazz recently spoke at Quinsigamond Community College’s main campus in Worcester about the legacy of her parents, Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz, and her work in diversity, equity and inclusion. Shabazz is an award-winning author, educator and producer.

QCC President Dr. Luis G. Pedraja started the event by addressing how Black, indigenous, immigrant and other populations have been left out of history and need to be acknowledged.

“As an educator, I will never succumb to the current movement to stop education and I will stand up for the freedom to learn. It’s on all of us as a community to change the structures of our society. All the people of our history need to be celebrated and acknowledged,” said Pedraja. 

Worcester NAACP President Fred Taylor also addressed the crowd and spoke about the history of the NAACP and Black History Month.

“Don’t be silent if you have an opportunity. Join an organization that fights for people’s rights. We need young people because you really know what’s going on,” Taylor said.

As the keynote speaker Shabazz delivered a message of self-love, searching for truth, and community. She acknowledged the trauma of Black Americans who endured physical and psychological trauma at the inception of the United States.   

“Black history is American history. That also includes Latin Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans and others. It’s not American unless each and every voice is heard on those pages. This is the beauty of our country,” she said.

Shabazz spoke about her iconic father, Malcolm X, and how important it was to control the narrative surrounding his legacy because there was so much misinformation put forth about him.

“My father didn’t walk into prison as an illiterate person and miraculously walk out as an icon. He was a student for life. He was a star debater. He also loved jazz and poetry and was a student of history, nature and art. It is important for us to tell the stories of our ancestors. That why I wrote five books,” Shabazz said.

Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965, in front of Shabazz, her three sisters and her mother who was pregnant at the time. Shabazz told the crowd how her mother, Dr. Betty Shabazz, persevered after this traumatic event and instilled in her children a strong message of self-worth.

“My sisters and I learned through our mother and our faith to love ourselves just as we were. We never relied on others to determine our self-worth. I can love you as much as I love myself. Know who you are and the power that you possess,” Shabazz continued, adding, “These days we can get caught in a cycle of division and self-destruction. But our possibilities are limitless. We can’t waste our time being upset and fighting. Find the common joys. We are the majority in this place called life. It is the minority who strive to keep us divided.”

She directly addressed the crowd made up of students, faculty, staff and community members toward the event of her speech.

“Stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Let’s find our voices and make our voices heard by any means necessary. You are making a difference in the world, and I salute you. Each and every one of us is a beautiful creation for the greater good.”

Quinsigamond Community College is the most affordable higher education in Worcester County. As a regional leader in education and workforce development, QCC serves the diverse educational needs of Central Massachusetts by providing affordable, accessible, and high quality programming leading to transfer, career, and lifelong learning.