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Remembering Betty Shabazz, Malcolm’s Widow Who Died After Suffering 3 Weeks Of Severe Burns

Betty Shabazz Malcolms Widow


A young grandchild of Malcolm X set fire to Shabazz’s Yonkers apartment on June 1, 1997. Shabazz was burned over 80% of her body and spent three weeks in intensive care at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. Doctors attempted five skin-replacement surgeries on Shabazz in order to repair damaged skin and save her life. Shabazz died as a result of her injuries on June 23, 1997, at the age of 61. Malcolm Shabazz, her grandson, was sentenced to 18 months in juvenile jail for manslaughter and arson.


More than 2,000 people attended Shabazz’s memorial ceremony at New York’s Riverside Church. Coretta Scott King and Myrlie Evers-Williams, poet Maya Angelou, actor-activists Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, New York Governor George Pataki, and four New York City mayors—Abraham Beame, Ed Koch, David Dinkins, and Rudy Giuliani—were among those in attendance. President Bill Clinton’s homage was delivered by Alexis Herman, the United States Secretary of Labor.

Jesse Jackson, a civil rights leader, commented after Shabazz’s death, “She never stopped giving and she never became cynical.” She leaves us the legacy of someone who embodied hope and healing.” Shabazz’s funeral was held in New York City’s Islamic Cultural Center. Her public viewing was held at the Unity Funeral Home in Harlem, the same location as Malcolm X’s viewing 32 years previously. Shabazz was laid to rest alongside her husband, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X), in Hartsdale, New York’s Ferncliff Cemetery.

Betty Shabazz, better known as Betty X, was an American educator and civil rights activist. She was born Betty Dean Sanders. She was Malcolm X’s wife. She was raised in Detroit, Michigan, by foster parents who shielded her from bigotry. Shabazz attended the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where she encountered racism for the first time. She moved to New York City after becoming dissatisfied with the circumstances in Alabama. She met Malcolm X there and joined the Nation of Islam in 1956. In 1958, the couple married.

Shabazz and her husband left the Nation of Islam in 1964, and the following year, her husband was assassinated. Shabazz, who was left to raise their six girls as a single mother, pursued higher education and went to work at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York.


Written by How Africa News

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