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Ilyasah is an inspirational role model and advocates for women and girl empowerment. Her lifework is devoted to helping others find inner strength and purpose.


While she is frequently asked to speak about the legacy of Malcolm X, she shares that it is her mother Dr. Betty Shabazz’s wisdom, courage, and compassion that guide her.


Ilyasah is an educator, activist, motivational speaker, and author of four award-winning publications: Growing Up X (Random House 2002) a coming of age memoir; Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X (Simon & Schuster 2014) a children’s illustration book; X, a Novel (Candlewick Press 2015) a young adult historical fiction, and her newest release, Betty Before X (MacMillan 2018) a middle school historical fiction.


She has received two NAACP Image Awards, Walter Dean Myers Honor, Library of Congress Inaugural Award, American Library Association Coretta Scott King Honor, and has been longlisted for The National Book Award. Ilyasah promotes higher education for at-risk youth, interfaith dialogue to build bridges between cultures for young leaders of the world, and she participates on international humanitarian delegations.


Ilyasah produced training programs to encourage higher education for the City University of New York Office of Academic Affairs. She served twelve years where she was raised in the city of Mount Vernon, New York on the Executive Youth Board, and served 12-year appointments as Director of Public Relations, Director of Public Affairs & Special Events, and Director of Cultural Affairs.


She mentors at Nile Rogers’ We Are Family Foundation, group homes, lock-up facilities, high schools and college campuses through a production of her exclusive production, The Wake-UP TourTM. Ilyasah retraced her father’s footsteps to the Holy City of Mecca, explored religious and historical sites in Egypt and Jordan as the guest of Princess Alia Hussein participated in interfaith dialogue study programs under Rabbi Nancy Kreimer and Dr. Aziza Al Hibri, and served as a member of the American Interfaith Leadership delegation that participated in Malaria No More Foundation in Mali, West Africa. Ilyasah also served as a member of the United States delegation that accompanied President Bill Clinton to South Africa to commemorate the election of President Nelson Mandela and the economic business development initiative.


Ilyasah serves as a Trustee for the Harlem Symphony Orchestra, The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, and The Malcolm X Foundation. She is a member of the Arts Committee for the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center and a project advisor for PBS award winning Prince Among Slaves documentary.


She holds Master of Science in Education & Human Resource Development from Fordham University; Bachelors of Science in Biology from SUNY/New Paltz; and is currently an adjunct professor at John Jay College for Criminal Justice in New York City.

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