Ilyasah Shabazz, third daughter born to Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz, will serve as Worcester State University’s inaugural DEI Fellow for the 2023-2024 academic year. Shabazz will work directly with the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity to support specific diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout the campus, in addition to providing recommendations to address specific topics. She will teach in the History and Political Science Department in the spring; specific classes will be determined. She will be the featured guest author during Black History Month’s African American Read-in Day, Feb. 7, 2024, where Worcester Public Schools students read a book from a noted African American author, discussing its significance to the culture and current global events. Shabazz began her tenure with the university Sept. 26.
“We’re committed to fostering an inclusive environment for all students. This fellowship will help us shape the desired culture we envision for our students, one which fosters an environment of respect, cultural and diverse awareness in which all can thrive,” stated President Barry Maloney.
Shabazz was on hand Sept. 26 for Unity Day, the annual event that sets the climate for diversity of the campus community in all of its forms, from gender identity, physical and mental abilities, culture, ethnicity, and religion to name a few. As Worcester State’s campus population is shifting – 44 percent of incoming first-year, first-generation, and transfer students identified as ALANA/BIPOC (African, Latine, Asian, Native American and/or Black, Indigenous, People of Color) – it’s important to have this annual day at the start of the academic year. Edgar Moros, Ph.D., executive director for Affirmative Action & Equal Opportunity/Chief Diversity and Equity Officer, knows the importance of engagement with students. “Dr. Shabazz’s presence on campus shows the institution’s deep commitment towards advancing DEIJ initiatives, which promote a greater sense of belonging among all our students, faculty, and staff.”
Shabazz was speaker at Worcester State’s 2022 Commencement, where she was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters. Her speech, which urged graduates to “stand for those who cannot stand for themselves,” was met with applause and ovations. The honorary degree recognizes her long history of human rights and social justice leadership, and it opened the opportunity for her to work with Worcester State.
An award-winning author, Shabazz wrote Growing Up X, a memoir about her childhood and her personal views about her father, in 2002, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Nonfiction. In 2014, she wrote a children’s book, Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcom X, about her father’s childhood, which was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Children’s. The following year, she wrote a young adult novel, X, about the same subject, which was among the ten finalists for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Youth/Teens. She served as a project advisor for the PBS award-winning film documentary Prince Among Slaves.
Shabazz is co-chairperson of The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Center in New York City. In her work to preserve the legacy of her parents, she has dedicated herself to institution building and intergenerational leadership development with the tenets of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She created curriculum to encourage higher education for underserved, inner-city high school dropouts for the City University of New York’s Office of Academic Affairs and is a member of the Soaring Higher Cabinet Committee for New Paltz College. Shabazz has served, since 2017, as an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice where she teaches perspectives on justice in the Africana world.
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