Malik Keiser Duval Smith
(1970 - 1989)

Malik Keiser Duval Smith was born on October 26, 1970 to director, Kris Keiser and actress Beverly Todd. Malik would have been born in New York City where his parents were residing, but they felt the air in Albuquerque, New Mexico where Beverly's mother lived was healthier. So on that blessed day in October this special child made his entrance into the world at 1:01 p.m. weighing 6lbs.10oz. and measuring 20 inches long.

When Malik was six weeks old the family returned to New York along with the family pet, Candy, a white haired Maltese. Malik was fascinated by Candy and thought of her as his walking, running barking toy. Their relationship was the beginning of Malik's love of animals. As he grew older, he wanted to bring any stray dog or cat home.

He was precocious and showed signs of it when he began speaking his first words. His parents were amazed when he spoke his first sentence as an infant. He looked up at them, pointed to himself and asked, "Is this me?"

When Malik was two years old his parents wanted him to have the benefit of interacting with other children in a safe learning environment. However, the pre schools that existed didn't offer what Malik's parents felt was necessary for children of color - images of themselves. To fill that void, Malik's mother and her good friend Karen Baxter* founded "Sunshine Circle" a private pre school based on the Montessori principles for children two through five years. It offered a unique kind of learning experience and fostered a climate in which the children were able to see and love themselves.

In 1976 Malik and family moved out west to Los Angeles, CA. His parents separated shortly there after but both remained very involved in Malik's life. They worked hard to overcome their differences so Malik would continue to have their full support.

Malik attended both private and public lower schools. He graduated from John Boroughs Jr. High School in 1985 and went on to Fairfax Sr. High. The system failed to capture his attention and he became one of those bright students who was slowly turning off and tuning out of education. He was saved, however, when he was sent to Walt Whitman Sr. High. The Principle, Mrs. Miller, recognized Malik's potential and was so impressed she chose him to represent the school in the Options Enrichment Program. He did so well, he was selected as one of the students to participate in the Academic Decathlon, a competition that takes place every year with high school students throughout the Los Angeles area. Malik credited his coaches, William A. Cathers and Susan Allen with changing his attitude towards school. He took an interest in learning and became a student who excelled.

Malik graduated from the program in January of 1989 with grades any parent would be proud of. All A's and two B's. He received all E's for excellent in his work habits. In 1988 he was the recipient of two scholastic awards presented by then Assembly woman Maxine Waters and Senator Diane Watson.

In February of 1989 he enrolled in Santa Monica Community College with a Political Science and English major. He had decided on a career in law.

Malik loved to dance and was singled out by his peers because he danced so well. He had regard for people of all races. He deplored acts of violence. Malik will live on in the memory of his family and friends. He will never be forgotten.

He is survived by his parents, his maternal grandmother, Virena; aunts Sonya and Johanne; cousins Jan, Jeff, Terry, Lisa and his loving sister, Kamilah.

*Karen Allen Baxter - Producer, managing director. Rites and Reason Theatre/Africana Studies Dept. of Brown University. Providence, Rhode Island.

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