Images of iconic human rights activist, El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, are once again being splashed all over the news; and unfortunately, not for any of his under-appreciated contributions to society.
Earlier this month, Dr. Malikah Shabazz, youngest daughter of the slain leader, known to the world as Malcolm X, continued to battle her sisters in Westchester County Surrogate's Court for the rights to the estate left by their late mother, Dr. Betty Shabazz. The elder Dr. Shabazz was killed in a fire set by her grandson, Malcolm, in 1997. Accused of "mental incapacity" by her older siblings, Ilyasah and Malaak, Malikah's propensity for theft was exposed when her unauthorized selling of her father's prized documents and possessions was revealed to the world.
Two weeks later, on the 46th anniversary of his assassination, his baby girl, born months after his murder on the stage of the Audubon Ballroom, is spending time behind bars.
After sheriff's deputies initiated an investigation into a claim that a child in Shabazz's home in Mars Hill, North Carolina was not attending school, they discovered an outstanding warrant stemming from her alleged 2009 identity theft of a widow of one of Malcolm X's bodyguards, and taking about $30,000 to pay bills and other personal expenses. They arrested her on charges including possession of stolen property, grand larceny, forgery, and criminal possession of forged instruments and she is currently awaiting extradition to Queens, NY to stand trial.
Sean Devereux, lawyer for Dr. Shabazz, told The Associated Press that the child in question was Shabazz's daughter, and that she was being home-schooled. It is believed that the truancy complaint was intended for the child of tenants who had recently moved out Shabazz's new residence.
Clearly, this is not the first time that Shabazz has stolen money and property, but few realize that her brushes with the law span over 15 years.
In 1995, Dr. Shabazz, who holds her Ph.D in Educational Administration and Human Development, an MS in Mathematical Science, is an Honored Fellow in Africana Black Studies, founder of HERS (Home Education Resources & Services), and YES (Younite Entente of Students), was fined $250 after reaching a plea bargain in a credit-card forgery case, according to The New York Beacon.
She pleaded guilty to providing false information to a police officer, and no contest to attempted forgery. Circuit Judge Roger Livingston ordered her to pay $250 in court fees and fines, with the stipulation that the attempted forgery charge would be dropped if she stayed out of trouble for the next year.
Though Shabazz exhibits several signs of having an addictive-compulsive disorder, I refuse to judge anyone's mental health, especially without having any knowledge of a psychiatric evaluation. However, when taking into consideration her impressive educational background, and her obvious financial security, her sisters' claim of "mental incapability" do not seem so far-fetched.
Or maybe mental illness is an easier pill to swallow than considering the daughter of one of our warriors for equality grew up to be nothing more than a common thief capable of stealing from her own father, sisters, and friends.
It saddens me that during this time, when we should be celebrating the life of Malcolm X, we are instead bombarded with the failings and fighting of his children.
His legacy deserves more.
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