In his opening prayer, Imam Al Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid set a tone of reverence and respect at the memorial services for Malcolm Latif Shabazz, the grandson of Malcolm X, last Thursday at First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, remembering him as "an emerging light."
That promising light, though diminished, was recalled by speaker after speaker, and none more eloquent than Dr. Adelaide L. Sanford, vice chancellor emeritus of the New York State Board of Regents. "He was finding the way," she said, after explaining that judgment in the brain often does not appear until people are in their 20s.
Shabazz was 28 when he was slain on May 9 in Mexico City. According to the program at the memorial, he was traveling in Mexico to aid the plight of African-Mexican construction workers. This commitment was consistent with his international travels and endeavors that many see as a direct replication of those of his illustrious grandfather, who, in his final days, had made countless global connects and affiliations.
The light Shabazz was emitting and "his ability to articulate his vision," said noted scholar James Small, "was complete and an aspect of the divine."
Popular communicator and commentator Mark Thompson, after thoroughly taking the mainstream media to task for mischaracterizing Shabazz as troubled and wayward, said, "It is left for us to finish his sentences." He then deftly interspersed the eulogy delivered by the late Ossie Davis at the funeral services for Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) with this final farewell for his grandson, denoting how each was representative of our manhood, and in honoring them, both Malcolms, we "honor the best in ourselves."
When the Rev. Conrad Tillard, during his totally engrossing moment at the podium, stated, "There is a war on Black men," he anticipated words uttered by Shabazz during a video clip.
"There are hundreds of Black men who are getting murdered throughout the country with impunity," Shabazz declared, sounding like the grandfather he so deeply admired.
Abiodun Oyewole, one of the renowned Last Poets, also recalled Shabazz as a "ray of light," and then compared him with his grandfather, both of them "having to go through changes." But Shabazz, he continued, "was fashioned out of a world his grandfather left behind."
Both Malcolms, said author and former NBA star Etan Thomas, "were just scratching the surface ... toward changing the world," he said. "Malcolm genuinely wanted to help his people." Thomas vividly recounted an appearance they made together at Rikers Island, where Shabazz "connected instantly" with the young men incarcerated there. "The media mischaracterized him ... they cannot define him."
His concluding comments were warmly received by the nearly 300 people in attendance. And the audience was even more animated and on their feet when author-activist Sister Souljah walked on stage.
For much of the more than 20 minutes, Souljah regaled listeners with a speech of admonition and self-determination, with a solid dose of counseling, from a woman familiar with "love and sacrifice."
"If we all could be more honest to one another, there would be more peace," she charged. "Without love and sacrifice, we cannot win." Taking a firm Black woman's stance, she insisted that "motherhood is a powerful force ... and I am a soldier, and I will fight."