MHP   |  February 23, 2014

How Malcolm Little grew up to be Malcolm X

The daughter of Malcolm X, Ilyasah Shabazz, speaks with Joy Reid about the new children's book she wrote on her father's life, "Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew to Become Malcolm X."

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> friday marked the 49th anniversary of the assassination of malcolm x . a one time leader in the nation of islam became one of the most outspoken voices on race. he was born malcolm little in 1925 and his introduction to activism began early. his parents followed the teaches of marcus garvey . they instilled their values into their seven children. now a children's book," malcolm little , the boy who grew up to become malcolm x , malcolm x 's daughter is here. this is an interesting way. a children's book. why did you choose that genr snempb.

>> there's a child in each one of us. if you look, the illustrations are amazing. young, impressionable child is how we all begin. and it speaks to the role of adults, our responsibility to ensure that they are properly nurtured, loved, all that great stuff.

>> what's great about it and the illustrations are beautiful and everything that looked at the book were just struck by what a beautiful child first of all your father was but also i think it does humanize him. we saw him appear on the scene as an adult. is that why you wanted to do it. to give the full humanity to your dad?

>> it was important to understand the values that went into a young boy and the importance of the foundation of both his mother and father and what they played in sharing those values.

>> being the daughter of somebody who is such a seminole figure, how do you deal with that and does that follow you around in your career being an author, et cetera ?

>> i wouldn't say it's a lot of pressure. you know, it's who i've always been. so it's me now grown up. and i just accept my role as, you know, being an adult.

>> i have to talk to you about something you're doing soon and this is a story i couldn't believe. during black history month there's a school in queens that barred the children from talk about or writing book reports about malcolm x . what do you make of that? you're going to that school.

>> i'm going the school to donate assignment sheets. wonderful publishers donating ses ofpeople, a lot of people that i know have grown up and they weren't able to talk about, write about or learn the truth about malcolm . and so it wasn't a big surprise. what was more surprising was that the parents said absolutely not. malcolm x is a great man. a man of compassion. a man of integrity. who sacrificed his life for us. never asking for a penny in return but that he contributed all that he did and my child will learn about this great man. they stood up and gave an autobiography to say this is the truth of malcolm . it's timely that is i mondsimon and shuster donate these books.

>> i know there's a lot who fought to ensure that the depiction was accurate.

>> right.

>> but i think now it's just wonderful that we could put this children's book out, that we could humanize him, we could see the values and accept this enormous figure, you know. he gave so much of himself. he was only in his 20s when the world learned of him. he 39 when he was killed. and look at all of what he did. he circled the fwloeb in the final moves his life searching for solutions to the human condition so that all of us could be treated fairly and especially our beautiful children.

>> what do you think it was about malcolm little , the little boy that -- what was in him that allowed him to become malcolm x the man

>> hat my grandparents instilled was the love for education, the love for learning. the love for -- the love of compassion, the importance of compassion. you know, in the book it's a story about his mom in the garden, where she teaches him about caring for insect, caring for vegetables, carrying for butterflies which he came to be a collector which most people wouldn't know but my sisters and i grew up with two huge collections of butterflies that was our father's.

>> beautiful story. so great to see you. this is a beautiful book. well done. thank you so much.