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Thu, 05.28.1936

Betty Shabazz, Administrative Activist born

Betty Shabazz

This date marks the birth of Betty Shabazz in 1936. She was a Black administrator and the wife of Malcolm X.

Betty Sanders spent her childhood in a protective environment in Detroit, where she was born. After high school, she traveled to Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute to study elementary education. Here she experienced the harsh reality of racism in the Deep South, which saddened and confused her. After her transfer to a nursing program at Brooklyn College in New York, she met and eventually married Malcolm Little (later Malcolm X). Within the first few years of their marriage, Shabazz gave birth to four girls.

Spending much time alone because of her husband’s travels as leader of the Nation Of Islam, she remained dedicated to their family and to the fight for racial justice.  Shabazz drew on her education and worked with the Nation of Islam as a health advocate. In 1964, after her husband severed ties to the Nation of Islam, she and their children became targets of bombings and harassment.  After she and her daughters witnessed her husband’s assassination, she continued his work for some time.

For the next two decades, Shabazz joined Coretta Scott King and Myrlie Evers-Williams, raising the public's awareness of the plight of Black children and the underclass. She received an undergraduate degree from a small New Jersey College and earned a Ph.D. in education from the University of Massachusetts. Betty Shabazz worked as a fund-raiser and administrator at Medgar Evers College in New York City.

She died on June 23rd, 1997, from burns suffered in a fire set by her grandson.


Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York
ISBN 0-926019-61-9

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