Betty Shabazz, also referred to as Betty X, was born Betty Dean Sanders. Even though her birth reports cannot be found, she was most likely born on May 28, 1934. Shabazz married Nation of Islam spokesperson Malcolm X in 1958. Following her husband’s assassination in 1965, Shabazz went on to a career in university administration and activism. Betty passed away from wounds sustained from a fire on June 23, 1997.
Betty Dean Sanders was born to a teenaged Ollie Mae Sanders and Shelman Sandlin. Even though Betty lived the majority of her childhood in Detroit, she could have been born in Pinehurst, Georgia. At 11 years old, Betty started living with businessman Lorenzo Malloy and his wife, Helen. Helen Malloy was obviously a local activist who ordered boycotts of retailers discriminating against African Americans.
Right after high school, Sanders began studying at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. The extreme racism Betty experienced during the Jim Crow South shocked and frustrated her. During 1953, she departed Alabama to study with the Brooklyn State College School of Nursing in New York City. While less overt, the racism which she seen in New York profoundly affected Betty.
Nation of Islam
In the course of her second year of nursing school, Sanders had been asked by an older nurse’s aide to attend a dinner party at the National of Islam temple in Harlem. Betty really enjoyed evening but turned down to join the group at that time. During the course of her next visit to the temple, Sanders met Malcolm X, who was her friend’s minister. Sanders started going to Malcolm X’s services. She later converted in 1956, changing her name to “X” to symbolize the loss of her African roots.
Betty X and Malcolm X were wedded on January 14, 1958, in Michigan. The husband and wife gradually had six daughters. In 1964, Malcolm X announced that he and his family were departing the Nation of Islam. Malcolm and Betty X, now known as Betty Shabazz, became Sunni Muslims.
On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated during a presentation at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City. Shabazz was in the audience close to the stage with her children. Angry onlookers captured and beat one of the assassins, who was detained on the scene. Eyewitnesses identified a coupled of suspects. All three men, had been associates of the Nation of Islam, were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
In the future Life
Betty Shabazz did not remarry. She brought up her six daughters by yourself, assisted by yearly royalties coming from her husband’s publication, "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," along with other publications. At the end of 1969, Shabazz concluded an undergraduate degree at Jersey City State College, accompanied by a doctoral degree in higher-education administration from the University of Massachusetts. She after that accepted a position being an associate professor for health sciences at New York’s Medgar Evers College. Betty worked as the university administrator and fund-raiser right until her death.
For several years, Shabazz along with her family members suspected the Nation of Islam with its leader, Louis Farrakhan, of organizing the assassination of her husband.
During 1995, Shabazz’s daughter Qubilah had been prosecuted for using the services of an assassin to eliminate Farrakhan. Farrakhan reached out to the family to defend Qubilah, prompting a public reconciliation between Shabazz and Farrakhan.
Although Qubilah joined in a rehabilitation program, she directed her 10-year-old son, Malcolm, to remain with her mother in New York. Upon June 1, 1997, Malcolm set a fire in Shabazz’s residence. Shabazz sustained critical burns and passed away on June 23, 1997. Malcolm Shabazz was transport to a juvenile detention for manslaughter and arson.
Betty Shabazz is actually buried next to her husband at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.