Ilyasah Shabazz '79 Kicks off Pillars Day

The Hackley Middle School "Pillars Day" celebration, devoted to the theme of Women's Leadership, launched with a visit with Ilyasah Shabazz, Hackley Class of 1979, whose book, Betty Before X, was the Middle School Summer Reading selection.
Middle School students gathered in the Performing Arts Center on Thursday morning to welcome back to campus Ms. Ilyasah Shabazz class of 1979. Ms. Shabazz was the keynote speaker for the Middle School Pillars Project Day - A Celebration of Leadership. Author of Betty Before X, Ms. Shabazz shared reflections of her time at Hackley School, growing up as the daughter of Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X, and a definition for what it means to be a leader.

Ms. Shabazz was introduced and then interviewed by Hackley Middle School students, and then answered audience questions, ranging from "What insights did you gain from writing this book?" to "What was it like growing up the daughter of Malcolm X, who was...sort of...famous?" She graciously and warmly talked with the students, encouraged them to appreciate the privileges they have in life, and to think about how the influential people they see in the world were once just Middle School students like them.  If those people were once like our students, who is to say our students won't one day be just as influential?  Ms. Shabazz encouraged students to find the power within, to connect with adults within their communities, and to believe that all individuals deserve kindness and respect.  She praised the current young generation, saying, "This generation is the generation that gets it." She reminded students that seeing beyond difference allows people "to grow, to govern, to make good choices" and challenged them to invest themselves in working with everything good -- to work with friends toward goals you identify and want to accomplish.

And then she patiently signed copies of her book for every student who brought a copy in, as well as a copy for the Hackley library!

Following her presentation, students attended workshops led by faculty and parent volunteers.  Each workshop represented an aspect of the summer reading book in an effort to bring the text to life for the students. Workshops included knitting, quilting, drumming, and cooking to name a few.  One of the workshops of the day was the Women in Leadership Museum Walk, which launched as a Community Connections event the evening before Ms. Shabazz's visit to campus.