Hundreds of people gathered at First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem for the public memorial service for Malcolm Latif Shabazz, the late grandson of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz.
The 28-year-old human rights activist, who was beaten to death in Mexico City three weeks ago, was laid to rest last Tuesday, May 21, 2013, near his grandparents at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, N.Y.
On Thursday, family, friends, and members of the community honored Shabazz through kind words, song and prayer. Esteemed guests and speakers included First Corinthian Baptist Church Rev. Tory J. Liferidge, activist and author Sister Souljah, former NBA player and friend Etan Thomas, Rev. Matsimela Mapfumo, Grio Abidodun Oyewole and Dr. Adelaide L. Sanford, who gave an empowering keynote address.
R&B singer Jaheim, who Shabazz’s godmother told attendees was one of Malcolm’s favorite singers growing up, performed a song in honor of the deceased.
Despite Shabazz’s troubled youth, friends and family reiterated that Shabazz had been on a brighter path and was a true inspiration and role model.
“He fought through those rumors of him being troubled, and he beat it,” his mentor Jason told the audience while choking back tears. “He didn’t need to tell the world [that he changed], the people close to him knew it.”
Thomas shared the same sentiment, telling friends and family, “We cannot let them [the media] define Malcolm. Everyone in this room knows who he was. It was an honor to know him, and it was an honor to be his friend.”
While many could say Shabazz was forced to lived in the shadow of his grandfather, Malcolm X, his family and friends said he could not be more proud to be a part of his legacy.
“The beauty of Malcolm is, he studied his grandfather and he jumped into his shoes,” his aunt Ilyasah Shabazz told NewsOne. “He went all around the world and did and met and accomplished so much, just like his grandfather.”
“He truly believed he was his grandfather’s successor,” said Dominique Sharpton, daughter of Rev. Al Sharpton.
Shabazz died exactly three weeks ago on May 9th, after authorities say he was beaten to death for refusing to pay a $1,200 bar tab in Mexico City. Despite the recent arrests of the two waiters involved, Shabazz’s aunt, Ilysah, says the family and the community still need answers.
“I think the community is really pressing to find out what really happened to our Malcolm,” Ilyasah told NewsOne. “The community has been galvanizing behind his mother to find out what really happened to him.”
Regardless of the tragedy surrounding his death, his aunt stressed that there are more important things to be remembered of her nephew: “The biggest legacy Malcolm left behind, I would say, is understanding the importance of education and the importance of our legacy,” said Illysah. “I think it’s so important to invest in our young people and understand the meaning of life. That we each have something that we have to give back to society just as Malcolm did.”