Teaching black heritage Shabazz: The daughter of Malcolm X, speaking at the Martin Luther King Jr. dinner in Annapolis, stresses the importance of education.

January 14, 1998|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

The daughter of slain black leader Malcolm X criticized the lack of multicultural education in U.S. schools during a speech in Annapolis last night and urged blacks to teach their children about their "rich heritage."

More than 450 people heard Ilyasah Shabazz, one of the six daughters of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, speak at the 10th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner at Buddy's Late Night. The dinner commemorates the slain civil rights leader on his birthday and honors those who are working to keep alive his dream of a color-blind society.

In her speech, Shabazz criticized schools for teaching black children to feel "inferior" and told of how her parents helped her learn about "our rich culture."

Her father was assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom in New York City's Harlem in February 1965. Her mother, a civil rights advocate and educator who took up her husband's cause, died of burns she suffered in a fire at her Yonkers, N.Y., apartment June 1.

"Our dolls were black. Our paintings were black. More importantly, we were black," Shabazz said. "We learned that black was beautiful. We have to make sure our rich culture is taught and taught accurately and respectfully.

"We owe our children the responsibility of teaching them our heritage. We owe it to Malcolm and Martin. My father said education is important in the struggle for human rights. He said that education is our passport to the future," Shabazz said.

Last night's dinner was sponsored by the Community Action Agency, the county National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Peace Action, the Robinwood Planning Action Committee and the Owensville Primary Health Care Center.

Annapolis civil rights activist Carl O. Snowden, who founded the awards dinner and was honored last night for his efforts, said, "We want the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King to be more than just an annual event. We want it to become something we do year-round and to serve as an event where we set the tone for major issues the community should be addressing."

Snowden, a former longtime city alderman, ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year.

Last month, Snowden announced that tighter controls over money raised by the dinner committee had been instituted in response to articles in The Sun last spring that questioned the handling of the proceeds.

An accounting firm was hired to regulate the dinner's finances, and a bank account has been established for the funds under a new name, the 10th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner Committee. Snowden said the group will disclose all funds raised at the dinner and will have a more formal process for donating the money raised. This year, recipients of the night's awards will receive money to donate to organizations of their choice.

Six community leaders were honored at the dinner.

Pub Date: 1/14/98

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