For Ilyasah Shabazz, the daughter of civil rights activists Malcolm X and time and Betty understanding herself in relation to parents, to family. BETTY SHABAZZ: What should young people know about Malcolm. CARROLL BLUE: When was the first time you saw Malcolm's speech, Malcolm X speak? .. We have dealt in the relationship, you know, how visibility, how relationship. Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz: Ilyasah Shabazz Speaks on Their Legacy. Shabazz discussed the special relationship between Marcus.
She was trying to tell me in ten words or less about racism. So long as she stayed on campus, she could avoid interacting with white people, but weekend trips into Montgomerythe nearest city, would try her patience.
Black students had to wait until every white person in a store had been helped before the staff would serve them—if they received any service at all. When she complained to the Malloys, they refused to discuss the issue; in a interview, Shabazz summarized their attitude as "if you're just quiet it will go away.
She decided to change her field of study from education to nursing. Against her foster parents' wishes, Sanders left Alabama for New York in 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.
Interview with Betty Shabazz
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.Betty Shabazz after the Assassination of Malcolm X
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.
She focused on daddy, the loving, kind man that he was. The incident left her with not much surprise but more with understanding how ignorant people can be regarding prejudice.
But, it was in college where her experience with Black students would shape a clearer perspective of people in general. The backlash was surprisingly daunting. What was taught in her household was the achievements and history of the positive influences of African Americans.
Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz: Ilyasah Shabazz Speaks on Their Legacy
The daughters of Malcolm and Betty Shabazz. There was no bad there. We were just great. I was really a very friendly person—door wide open. But my mother had six daughters.
Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz: Ilyasah Shabazz Speaks on Their Legacy | The Chicago Defender
She was paying for each of her girls to go to school. How difficult had that been for her? Although she never showed it because she wanted us to feel proud. She only focused on building us up and not letting us see what could break us down. How grateful I am to her—just to be the woman she believed in. And because of that—I felt invincible.
Betty Shabazz died on June 23, But, ah, he was involved in raising funds to take Elijah Muhammad's sons from their various jobs, non-professional jobs, to have them, work with the father. So that he spearheaded a drive that, ah, would provide enough money, for their salaries. And, ah, of course he, his whole philosophy was rooted in history, Malcolm was the son of a Baptist minister, and his father was a Garveyite.
And of course you know, at that particular time, it was, ah, not the thing to do, to be a Garveyite. And so that, he would use to explain not only, ah, the religious sense, but a historical sense, of our people to explain the need for this or that. So that he explained in not only religious terms, but historical terms, of why it was necessary for Elijah Muhammad's sons to leave those menial jobs and work with the father.
To be more helpful because the nation was growing. And I might add, that Malcolm was directly responsible for that growth. When my husband got out of prison, Elijah Muhammad had six mosques, and populated by older members, and even Elijah Muhammad said in Philadelphia, before my husband was expelled from the movement. That he was, he single-handedly was responsible for the growth, and at that particular time, that, ah, the Nation of Islam had mosques in every major city in the United States.
So that he explained, ah, his explanation to me was, ah, new because usually people dealt with the Bible and kind of left it at that level, you know. How was he different? We're going to continue our discussion.
In keeping with, again talking about, ah, the teachings that you were learning from Malcolm, and how it was different.
Well, what was different was that Malcolm not only dealt with the Christian Bible, which most of us were familiar with, and, ah, most people in this country are familiar with, but he also dealt with the Koran and he also dealt from a historical perspective. And as, ah, a matter of fact, ah, it was, appeared in the New York Times through a minister who was named Henry at that particular time, I, I believe he died and I hope God have mercy on his soul, ah, and this interview, it said that Elijah Muhammad said that the, the Blackness that was brought in to the nation of Islam was brought in by Malcolm and it was never intended.
But you have to understand that Malcolm's father was a Garveyite and he remembered that, and it could have been an ode to his father. How was he different, the public man from the private man? Well, I don't know if he was, ah, really different in the sense. Ah, I would say that he smiled a lot in private, he was very gentle and understanding yet firm with his children. Ah, I found him an excellent husband, ah, but I guess his long years in prison, and then getting into the religion he was extremely disciplined.
Could you give me a story about that. Well he was, he was extremely disciplined, I mean it was just, ah, it was just unbelievable, you know, he, ah, said five prayers a day without fail, he used to write me from various parts of the world.
To say to me to please pray sometime, and, ah, I wrote him a letter back, you know, very quickly, and I said, "If you do your job I won't have to pray at all. And, ah, he could read the average difficult book in 3 hours, 4 hours, ah, he just did a lot of things, just really a remarkable person. After his expulsion, what changes did you notice in him? Well, he beha- no, he behaved the same way, he was, ah, goal oriented. And, ah, he decided that this was the time for him, to, ah, travel, to do some research, to find out some answers for himself.
He had at one particular time, been very disappointed, not only in the movement, but in the leadership. Ah, that a lot of things that he had heard even when he, ah, first entered the movement, ah, that, ah, there was a possibility that they were true.
The reason that, ah, the leader was, ah, run from, ah, from Michigan. Ah, that various people showed him pictures, and, ah, and talked and cried, you know, about what had happened. So that he felt that, that, ah, the movement was a good movement, it was, the structure was good, that, ah, one needed to be disciplined and more caring about the people, and, but that he needed to do some research, so that he was invited, ah, to the summit conference, the first time, that, ah, a Black American had been so honored, ah, to come to the summit conference and represent Black people in America.
And of course, he traveled throughout Africa, and, ah, the Middle East, and part of Asia.
And made some startling discoveries. And of course, at that particular time there was a lot of things going on in this country, and one of them was the irritation in this country by decision makers, that he should not have been allowed to, to, travel that far, and, not knowing that he was going to meet the kind of people that he met.
And so then they started, ah, gathering, ah, forces to anoint a leader that would supersede him. So there was of course in, ah, the American papers, that, ah, the- they had a poll, that said he was not a, a leader thought, ah, well of, and that other people were much more popular with the people.
And then we got a call one day that said someone was going to get a grand prize, you know, and it was an attempt to, ah, set leadership, not only, not only against him, but, ah, above him. I don't, I don't really know if Malcolm's original agenda, ah, from the knee of his father ever changed, actually. Ah, he perhaps was able to discuss it, ah, ah, more openly and intellectually in the time that I met him. He said, freedom, by whatever means necessary to bring about a society were people of African descent were recognized and treated as human beings, regardless to where they lived, you know, as long as it was on Earth.
And if, if you really understand that, and a lot of people defined it perhaps negatively, they talked about militancy. But it wasn't really militancy in a negative s- s- sense, it was the internal strength, the fact that I'm a human being.
His, ah, whole, um, notion of changing the civil rights struggle to one of human rights. That if you changed it to a human rights struggle, you would have your civil rights, and that you would have more support. And of course, ah, when he came back from Africa, a lot of the leaders felt that, ah, his thrust was wrong, that he had no business in Africa, he had no business in the Middle East, he had no business in Asia seeking support.
He should, ah, concentrate his time in Mississippi. And of course I think now, retrospectively, that his analysis was correct. Ah, that of human rights, and of course different nations are cited for human rights violations.
Ah, but, ah, Black people are still abused, and ours is still, ah, in the realm of, ah, discrimination and civil rights, and it really needs to be taken to a higher level. So that I, I think his analysis was correct, I think that people or I should say, decision makers at that time, I'm sure that they recognized that there was a great deal of validity to what he was saying.
And just wanted a little more time to get a lot of things in order. I can remember when, ah, they were really criticizing him severely for wanting to change it to a human rights struggle. Ah, that, ah, Arthur Goldberg, ah, threatened to take Russia to the World Court at that particular time for just the 3 million, ah, Jews in Russia, because they had, ah, human rights violations.
And I thought it was remarkable, it was honorable, I mean that's, as a leader, that is really what he should have done for his people. And, ah, but I also felt that Malcolm was correct to take, uh to discuss the whole, ah, possibility of taking this country to the World Court, the U.
And of course he was demonic, and all the bad names that could be thought of. But, ah, I, I think that, ah, that he was correct. Would you share with me a story of the family. Well I don't know, if I really have any Malcolm X stories or not, I just know from reality, that, ah, he contributed, ah, personally to the, ah, ah, caring for 3 or 4 families, because he did not take the time really counsel the men in the family, they felt they couldn't work for White people because they were in a racist, and this, that and the other.
And, ah, he said, he would say to me, every time of the week when I was going to get my allowance, along with the children's, ah, nursery money, and, ah, the food money, and he would say, ah, "As soon as I get time, I am going to counsel, you know, the brothers, and I'm going to get them all together, because, ah, ah, I know you would like to do more things, you know, like go shopping, right?
And, ah, after his assassination, I could be walking down the street, and I would see one and they would cross on the other side of the street, you know.