In May of 2019, Dr. Donald P. Christian, president of SUNY New Paltz, phoned me:
"Would you be interested in returning to campus as this year's Distinguished Speaker Series lecture in conversation with fellow alumnae, Ilyasah Shabazz?"
"I don't think you know what you've just done," I said. Nor could I know--or imagine--what an inspired pairing it would prove to be.
What Dr. Christian didn't know before his call was that I'd actually known Ilyasah's mother Dr. Betty Shabazz. We'd met when my husband, Max Roach, and I were living in Amherst, Massachusetts and she was commuting to UMASS to study for her doctorate. Max and Ilyasah's father, Malcolm X, were close friends. My grandfather and Malcolm were even casual acquaintances. And, there were still more intersections to be explored. But, Ilyasah and I had never met.
Not, that is, until October 28, 2019 when we came together for this conversation on purpose, personal, and social responsibility. What does it mean to be oneself in times of challenge and change?
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