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Malik Zulu Shabazz

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Malik Zulu Shabazz

Malik "Zulu" Shabazz
Born Paris Lewis
1968 (age 46–47)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Lawyer, political activist, lecturer

Malik Zulu Shabazz (born Paris Lewis in 1968)[1] is an American attorney and former National Chairman of the New Black Panther Party. As of 2013, he is the current National President of Black Lawyers for Justice, which he co-founded.

Shabazz announced on an October 14, 2013 online radio broadcast that he was stepping down from his leadership position in the New Black Panther Party and that Hashim Nzinga, then national chief of staff, would replace him.[2] He is an occasional guest on television talk shows.[3]

Early life and legal career

Shabazz was born in 1968 as Paris Lewis, and raised in Los Angeles, California. Shabazz says his father, James Lewis, was a Muslim who was killed when Shabazz was a child. Shabazz was raised by his mother, whom he describes as a successful businesswoman. His grandfather, who introduced him to the Nation of Islam, was also a strong influence.[4][5]

Shabazz graduated from Howard University and Howard University School of Law.[4] In 1994, Shabazz was fired from a position with then Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who criticized Shabazz for statements "regarding other people's cultural history, religion and race that do not reflect the spirit of my campaign, my personal views or my spirituality."[6]

In 1995, while he was a law student, Shabazz ran his first unsuccessful campaign for a seat on Washington, D.C.'s City Council.[5][7] In 1996, Shabazz founded Black Lawyers for Justice.[1] In 1998, Shabazz was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the National Bar Association, the nation's leading black lawyers' association,[8] and ran, unsuccessfully again, for a seat on the Washington D.C. City Council.[8]

Public attention

Shabazz first came to widespread public attention in 1994, when Unity Nation, a student group he founded at Howard University, invited Khalid Abdul Muhammad, chairman of the New Black Panther Party, to speak.[9][10] Introducing the speaker, Shabazz engaged in a call and response with the audience:

"Who is it that caught and killed Nat Turner?"
"The Jews!"
"Who is it that controls the Federal Reserve?"
"The Jews!"
"Who is it that has our entertainers... and our athletes in a vise grip?"
"The Jews!"[7]

A year later, Shabazz told an interviewer that everything he said was true, with the possible exception of the assertion concerning Nat Turner.[5]

New Black Panther Party

Shabazz followed Muhammad's lead and joined the New Black Panther Party about 1997. When Muhammad, who greatly expanded the organization and rose to its chairmanship, died in early 2001, Shabazz took over as National Chairman.[8]

The principles Shabazz purports to promote include the following:

The Anti-Defamation League describes Shabazz as "anti-Semitic and racist"[1] and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)'s Intelligence Project's Intelligence Report, which monitors what the SPLC considers radical right hate groups and extremists in the United States has included Shabazz in its files[8] since a 2002 Washington, D.C. protest at B'nai B'rith International at which Shabazz shouted: "Kill every goddamn Zionist in Israel! Goddamn little babies, goddamn old ladies! Blow up Zionist supermarkets!"[6]

Prevented from entering Canada

In May 2007, Shabazz was invited by Black Youth Taking Action (BYTA)[13] to speak at a rally at Queen's Park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and to give a lecture to students at Ryerson University. The Ryerson Students' Union (RSU) had endorsed the event as it called for grade-school curricula to acknowledge the historical contribution of African-Canadians and African-Americans, and for the Brampton, Ontario, super jail project to be dismantled.[14] But, a spokesperson for the RSU later stated that support for the event was given "before they knew that Shabazz was the speaker."[14]

Shabazz arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport as planned, but he was prevented from entering Canada by Canadian border officials because of past rhetoric that violates Canadian hate laws. Although Canada's airports and borders are within the federal jurisdiction, the Ontario Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister, Monte Kwinter, justified the barring of Shabazz.[15] Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty expressed concern about Shabazz.[16] The press reported that Shabazz was denied entry to Canada because of a minor criminal record.[17] Shabazz flew back to Buffalo, New York, and attempted to cross the border by car, but he was spotted by border agents and prevented from entering Canada.[18]

The rally at Queen's Park went ahead without Shabazz, with approximately 100 people, plus at least two dozen journalists. Ryerson University canceled the planned lecture.[16][18] The university administration alerted the RSU that it had received e-mails of threats of violent disruption of the event. The RSU canceled Shabazz's lecture because of safety concerns. Heather Kere, RSU's Vice-President of Education, said, "We definitely recognize there was some criticism of his views" and "we were endorsing the campaign's goals and not the individual speaker." Kere added, "He deflected attention away from the main point of the campaign. We still strongly believe in the campaign."[14]

Hashim Nzinga, Shabazz's chief of staff, blamed Jewish groups for the incident, stating in a telephone interview, "They let these groups like the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) and the JDL (Jewish Defense League), which is nothing but a bunch of gangsters, dictate what happens in the world today," and "They told Canada not to let us in and Canada followed [its] rules, because this country is run from Israel."[15] Nkem Anizor, president of the BYTA, also blamed the "Jewish lobby" for the government's decision to deny Shabazz entry to Canada,[15][18][19] Shabazz later said, "Canada is on Malik alert," and "B'nai Brith has won this one, and I'm starting to see the power of the Jewish lobby in Canada, full force. I thought Canada was free. I think this is evidence that black people are being oppressed in Canada."[18] Hashim Nzinga is now the National Chairman of the New Black Panther Party.

2015 Demonstrations in Baltimore

Shabazz helped organize and promote a demonstration in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 25, 2015, following the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man who died while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department. Addressing the crowd, Shabazz called for them to "Shut it down if you want to! Shut it down!"[20]

Shabazz planned another protest on May 2, 2015. Some in Baltimore who had been involved with the peaceful protests expressed concerns to The Baltimore Sun about his involvement. Reverend Alvin S. Gwynn, Jr., who leads the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Baltimore, described Shabazz as an "outside agitator" and said he and activists like him "aren't trying to solve the problem. They're trying to use this situation to gain a platform for their own agendas." Another Baltimore pastor, Reverend Louis Wilson, said Shabazz does not speak for all African-Americans. Wilson added, "I've talked to people who wish he'd just stay away."[21]


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Further reading

External links

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