How Betty Shabazz Persevered after Her Husband, Malcolm X, was Killed

When Malcolm X was shot, his wife—and mother of four—was left homeless, penniless, and pregnant with twins. But as a new movie tells the Betty Shabazz story, a daughter recalls how they all went on.


By: Ilyasah Shabazz

Article Reprintcoretta

This Saturday, A&E Lifetime Network will recognize an important era in our nation’s history with an account of the friendship between my mother, Dr. Betty Shabazz, and Coretta Scott-King. History referred to these extraordinary women, along with their friend Myrlie Evers-Williams, as “The Three Widows of the Movement.’’ However, even a cursory two-hour examination of their lives reveals their roles expanded far beyond that of surviving wives of famous husbands.  Each of these exceptional women turned tragedy into triumph.  Each one continued the legacy of her martyred husband. Each sacrificed personal freedom to become a warrior for social justice in her own right.

Betty, Coretta, and Myrlie treasured each other. They served as confidantes and friends to one another as they each adapted to life without their husbands and to rearing children who had been tragically deprived of their fathers.

Because my father directly challenged the government, neither he nor my mother have received the recognition they deserved over the years. So much could be learned from both. My sincerest hope is that the film, Betty and Coretta, will encourage all to learn more. And that it will empower a new generation of women to forge meaningful bonds of friendship and support.

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