Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz: Ilyasah Shabazz Speaks on Their Legacy | The Chicago Defender
BETTY SHABAZZ: What should young people know about Malcolm. .. We have dealt in the relationship, you know, how visibility, how relationship, but not, we. Betty Shabazz was 28 years old and pregnant the Sunday afternoon in when a Malcolm and Betty's relationship was slow to develop. Betty Shabazz (May 28, – June 23, ), born Betty Dean Sanders and also known as Looking back in , Shabazz wrote: "Race relations were not discussed . At first, their relationship followed the Nation of Islam's strictures concerning marriage; Malcolm X set the rules and Betty X obediently followed them.
Poitier soon discovered that her houseguest was totally unprepared for the public and private demands of her widowhood. But as she later recalled, the talk did not go as she had planned: Malcolm X had left the speaking out to her husband, at least publicly. Now her pangs of loss were far more powerful than her grasp of his global meaning. John Henrik Clarke would remember.
She had no blueprint for survival without Malcolm. Squinting ahead, all she could see were the contours of more pain. If it were not for her daughters, she genuinely wondered if she would have bothered to pull herself upright every morning.
Her faith had been quitting her. Perhaps she felt its passing. Perhaps she was too numb to know the difference. Some of her brothers in Islam detected it, in any case. The graduate student suspected that the Hajj would be an ideal remedy for the misery that had enveloped Betty. She had been contemplating the pilgrimage for almost a year — since Malcolm had testified to its power in those ebullient letters.
His death had dashed her tentative plans to make the journey. Now Poitier, who had marveled at how profoundly the experience had enriched the minister, urged her new friend to go. The next few days vanished in a bleary rush about town.
Saudi officials finalized arrangements with the World Muslim League, which agreed to sponsor the trip. She worried about leaving the children for the month-long excursion. Then Antoinette Wallace agreed to help Poitier and another woman baby-sit Atallah, Qubilah, Ilyasah, and Gamilah while the widow was away. In late Marcha month after she had watched assassins topple her husband, Betty kissed her daughters and, traveling under an assumed name, took off for the Holy Land.
Betty Shabazz - Wikipedia
She hardly blinked during the flight. This was her first trip overseas, and she rippled with excitement as her escorts prepared her for the rituals of the pilgrimage. When the trio touched down in Beirut, Lebanon, where they were to spend the night, a local newspaper editor emerged to greet Betty and conduct an interview. She refused to talk to correspondents for American news sources. The Lebanese people knew of Malcolm from his travels through the Middle East and were quite in awe of his widow.
Betty and her companions arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the following day. She wore modest, flowing garments and a headpiece in the style of the other female pilgrims, all of whom left their faces unveiled. The men had wound two strips on unsewn white cloth about themselves like towels. Protocol officials met the widow and her escorts at the airport and whisked them to the Jeddah Palace Hotel, where they were to stay as guests of state.
The Saudi government provided Betty with a chauffeured car and offered to cover all her expenses while she was in the country. The following week was exhausting. Betty had entered the state of ihram, an abstemious phase that precedes the pilgrimage, but she had to balance the demanding Hajj preparations with newfound diplomatic duties. Saudi dignitaries were already queuing up to receive the widow of the Black American revolutionary who had first dazzled them the previous spring.
Here was the veneration for Malcolm that seemed so sparse back home.
The Muslim world was especially reverent now that Malcolm had become a shaheed, a martyr in a righteous struggle jihad on behalf of Islam. Among the luminaries that greeted the widow was the secretary general of the World Muslim League, an elegant black Saudi named Saban.
His grace so moved her that when her twins were born later that year, she bestowed upon each the middle name Saban in his honor. There was not enough time to accommodate all the Saudi notables who wished the welcome Mrs. As the pilgrimage season neared, her fellowship with the faithful ended and her communion with the creator began.
She and her companions left Jeddah for the forty-five-mile drive into Mecca among busloads of pilgrims. There were blacks, whites, Asians, and Arabs. Along the route, the sojourners chanted the talbiyah: Here we come, O Allah, here we come! No partner have You. Praise indeed, and blessings, are Yours — the Kingdom, too! No partner have you!
Malcolm himself had taught Betty the words. Now they awakened a prickling anticipation. Her excitement mounted as her car passed the white pillar marking the sacred territory and approached the outskirts of the holiest city in Islam.
Betty Shabazz Birthday, May 28, | News One
She traveled through the barren valley that encloses Mecca, marveling at the walls of craggy hills at its edges. Allah had certainly chosen a harsh landscape upon which to command Prophet Abraham Ibrahim to build His house.
Finally the widow entered Mecca and beheld the Sacred Mosque. Rearing from the bustling cityscape, the ornate worship place lofted seven minarets skyward. With the masses swarming its base, the edifice looked like the fusion of a coliseum and a temple. Following her guide, Betty made her way through the Gate of Peace into the droning multitude within the temple courtyard.
Betty for almost a year had joined more than three quarters of a billion believers worldwide in bowing for five daily prayers in the direction of the black cube, the symbolic center of Muslim worship.
Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz: Ilyasah Shabazz Speaks on Their Legacy
Now she was making her seven circumambulations about its faces, just as Malcolm had described in his letters. Like the minister, she chanted with the other pilgrims as she performed the revolutions, brimming with a sense of kinship. After making the prescribed circuits, she visited the Well of Zamzam.
Now Betty renewed herself with the rich mineral water. During the treks she prayed for mercy, as the forlorn mother once had. No other ritual would bring her more comfort. In the ensuing days, Betty proceeded east from Mecca to nearby Mina with the other women in her Hajj party. There she and her companions crowded into one of thousands of tents that blanketed the land like silken metropolis. The following morning was the day of standing.
She rose with the others and advanced upon the Plain of Arafat. At Montefiore Hospitalwhere she performed her clinical training, black nurses were given worse assignments than white nurses.
White patients sometimes were abusive toward black nurses. While the racial climate in New York was better than the situation in Alabama, Sanders frequently wondered whether she had merely exchanged Jim Crow racism for a more genteel prejudice. After the speech, the nurse's aide invited Sanders to join the Nation of Islam; Sanders politely declined. He's very disciplined, he's good-looking, and all the sisters want him.
At the second dinner, the nurse's aide told her the minister was present and Sanders thought to herself, "Big deal. Then, I looked over and saw this man on the extreme right aisle sort of galloping to the podium.
He was tall, he was thin, and the way he was galloping it looked as though he was going someplace much more important than the podium. He got to the podium—and I sat up straight. I was impressed with him. The two had a long conversation about Sanders's life: He spoke to her about the condition of African Americans and the causes of racism.
Sanders began to see things from a different perspective. He always sought her out afterwards, and he would ask her a lot of questions. She felt he was selfless when it came to helping others, but he had no one to lean on when he needed help. She thought maybe she could be that person. In midSanders converted. Like many members of the Nation of Islam, she changed her surname to "X", which represented the family name of her African ancestors that she could never know.
One-on-one dates were contrary to the teachings of the Nation of Islam. Instead, the couple shared their "dates" with dozens, or even hundreds of other members.
One day he called and asked her to marry him, and they were married on January 14,in Lansing, Michigan. We would have little family talks. They began at first with Malcolm telling me what he expected of a wife. But the first time I told him what I expected of him as a husband it came as a shock. After dinner one night he said, "Boy, Betty, something you said hit me like a ton of bricks.
Here I've been going along having our little workshops with me doing all the talking and you doing all the listening. Their names were Attallahborn in and named after Attila the Hun ; [b] Qubilahborn in and named after Kublai Khan ; Ilyasahborn in and named after Elijah Muhammad ; Gamilah Lumumba, born in and named after Patrice Lumumba ; and twins, Malikah and Malaak, born in after their father's assassination and named for him. When she heard the gunfire, she grabbed the children and pushed them to the floor beneath the bench, where she shielded them with her body.
When the shooting stopped, Shabazz ran toward her husband and tried to perform CPR. All three men, who were members of the Nation of Islam, were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. She suffered from nightmares in which she relived the death of her husband.
She also worried about how she would support herself and her family. After the publication of his best-seller RootsHaley signed over his portion of the royalties to Shabazz. She realized, however, that giving up because of her husband's death would not help the world. It is imperative that one mix in society on some level and at some time.
I really don't know where I'd be today if I had not gone to Mecca to make Hajj shortly after Malcolm was assassinated. That is what helped put me back on track. Going to Mecca, making Hajj, was very good for me because it made me think of all the people in the world who loved me and were for me, who prayed that I would get my life back together.
I stopped focusing on the people who were trying to tear me and my family apart. Providing for them was difficult as well. Inshe sold the movie rights to the Autobiography to film-maker Marvin Worth. In time, she became the parents' representative on the school board. Several years later, she became president of the Westchester Day Care Council.
He had a reality-based agenda. They joined Jack and Jilla social club for the children of well-off African Americans.