June 23, 1997: Dr. Betty Shabazz died from her burn injuries she suffered on June 1st.
Following the arrest of her daughter Qubilah for allegedly conspiring to murder Louis Farrakhan, Shabazz took in her 12 year old grandson Malcolm. For reasons still unknown, Malcolm, set a fire in her apartment. Shabazz suffered burns over 80% of her body, and remained in intensive care for three weeks, at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. She underwent 5 skin-replacement operations as doctors struggled to replace damaged skin and save her life.
During the evenings of June 25-26th, about 7,000 people came through the doors of the funeral home to pay their last respects to Dr. Shabazz. Lines stretched around the block, and some mourners waited for more than an hour.
On June 27th, more than 2,000 mourners attended a memorial service for Shabazz, at New York’s Riverside Church. Many prominent leaders were present, including 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. U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman delivered a tribute from President Bill Clinton.
In a statement released after Shabazz’s death, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said, “She never stopped giving and she never became cynical. She leaves today the legacy of one who epitomized hope and healing.”
Shabazz’s funeral service was held at the Islamic Cultural Center in New York City. Her public viewing was at the Unity Funeral Home in Harlem, the same place where Malcolm X’s viewing had taken place 32 years earlier. Shabazz was buried next to her husband, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X), at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.
Betty Shabazz , born Betty Dean Sanders and also known as Betty X, was a educator and civil rights advocate. She was the wife of Malcolm X. Shabazz grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where her foster parents largely sheltered her from racism. She attended the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where she had her first encounters with racism.
Unhappy with the situation in Alabama, she moved to New York City, where she became a nurse. It was in New York that she met Malcolm X and, in 1956, joined the Nation of Islam. The couple married in 1958.
Along with her husband, Shabazz left the Nation of Islam in 1964. She witnessed his assassination the following year. Left with the responsibility of raising six daughters as a single mother, Shabazz pursued a higher education, and went to work at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York.
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