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Betty Shabazz

Betty Shabazz was an American Civil Rights activist. She became a powerful voice in the Civil Rights movement following the assassination of her husband, Malcolm X, in 1965. He was assassinated by rival Black Muslims with ties to the Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan.

After her husband's assassination, Shabazz focused on raising her six daughters and continued her education. Betty was a registered nurse, and later, an educator at Medgar Evers College, City University of New York, in Brooklyn, New York. She remained a private person, but along the way, made occasional appearances on behalf of Civil Rights, helping to keep Malcolm's name and message alive.

There had been a 30-year rift between Dr. Shabazz and Rev. Farrakhan, whom Shabazz believed played a role in her husband's assassination. In 1994, she spoke out publicly for the first time against the Nation of Islam and linked its leader, Louis Farrakhan, to her husband's death. Shabazz was steadfast in her conviction about the role she believed they played in his assassination until 1995. That year, her daughter, Qubilah, was arrested for trying to hire a hit man to kill Farrakhan. Reverend Farrakhan actually arranged a fundraiser to help pay for her legal defense. This led to a much-publicized reconciliation with Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam. Dr. Shabazz died as a result of injuries sustained in a fire set by Malcolm Shabazz, her 12-year-old grandson.

She was portrayed by Angela Bassett in Spike Lee's 1992 film, Malcolm X, starring Denzel Washington.

Biographical fast facts

Full, original or maiden name at birth: Betty Jean Sanders

Date and place of birth: May 28, 1936, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.

Date, time, place and cause of death: June 23, 1997, at 2:46 p.m., Jacobi Medical Center, Bronx, New York, U.S.A. (Injuries sustained in a fire)

Spouse: Malcolm X (m. January 14th, 1958 - February 21st, 1965) (his death)
Wedding took place in Lansing, Michigan.

Daughters: Attallah (b. November 16, 1958)
Qubilah (b. December 25, 1960)
Ilyasah (b. July 22, 1962)
Gamilah Lumumbah (b. December 4, 1964)
Malikah Saban Shabazz and Malaak Saban Shabazz (twins b. September 1965)

Father: Shelman Sandlin
Mother: Ollie Mae Sanders

Burial site: Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York, U.S.A.


The most in-depth of more three dozen sources consulted in preparing this profile:
The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1964)
Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary, by Walter Dean Myers (1993)

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