Betty Shabazz


United States

Known for

Social Activist, Educator, and Wife of Malcolm X


Hijri 1352-1417 (AH); Common Era 1934-1997 (CE)

Betty Shabazz


Betty Shabazz was a prominent social activist, health professional, and educator. Betty Shabazz (born Betty Dean Sanders, later on known as Betty X) was raised in Detroit, Michigan by adoptive parents and attended the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. After two years in Alabama, Betty moved to New York to begin nursing school at Brooklyn State Hospital. It was during her time as a student there that Betty Shabazz met Malcolm X, the dynamic civil rights leader and Nation of Islam member. They married in 1958, two years after meeting. In 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated while giving a speech in Harlem, New York, leaving Betty to raise their six daughters on her own. Soon after her husband’s death Betty, returned to school and earned a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts in 1975. She then began working as an administrator at Medgar Evers College, eventually overseeing the college’s Office of Institutional Advancement and Public Relations. In addition to her work, Betty traveled extensively, speaking on racial equality and civil rights. Betty died in 1997 three weeks after suffering from third degree burns from a house fire set by her grandson, Malcolm. More than 2,000 people attended her memorial service.


Brian Jenkins, “Betty Shabazz, Malcolm X’s widow, dies at 61,” CNN, June 23, 1997, at: _GALE Cengage Learning, “Betty Shabazz” at: