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Strong Rooted Volume 1:Issue 10-Betty Shabazz July 13, 2017 (Republished)

We must know where we come from in order to get to where we want to go. Never forget your roots.

Betty Shabazz was born Betty Dean Sanders on May 28, 1934, in Pinehurst, Georgia.  Betty was academically talented and, as a result, was able to leave Detroit, where she grew up, and attend college at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.  Not being able to take the disrespect, deep hatred, and racism of the South, Sanders left and returned to Detroit.  Completing her nursing studies at Brooklyn State College School of Nursing, Sanders began working shortly after.

It was at work that she was invited to the Nation of Islam Temple in Brooklyn, where she was then living. In 1956 Sanders met the legendary Malcolm X and converted her religion and became a Muslim and the wife of one of the most outstanding Black leaders of all times.

Now known as Betty X and then later, as Betty Shabazz, she would go on to have six children and support her husband in his beliefs related to social change.  After the death of her husband, Shabazz would never remarry and would go back to school and earn degrees, including a Doctorate in Education Administration and work in the field until her death. In 1995 Shabazz’s daughter was imprisoned for her attempt at having Louis Farrakhan assisted. During this time, Shabazz took custody of her then twelve-year-old grandson, Malcolm, who set fire to their apartment, resulting in Shabazz being severely burned and ultimately dying from her injuries.

Another great woman with parts of our history embedded in her flesh, gone too soon; I would ask her if, after all of this time, she might be willing to share with me the conversations she and Malcolm had about leaving the Nation of Islam. I would ask her if it were true that Malcolm was silenced by the Nation of Islam because he uncovered some deep dark truth that left him broken. I would ask her how she felt about the work that Malcolm had done and if she thought that he might have been on his way to a non-violent approach. I would ask the hard question. “Why do you think that Malcolm was killed and who do you think was behind it?”

Gone too soon, but I have these questions and only the words and pieces of memories from people who may or may not have our best interest at heart.

“Love yourself, appreciate yourself, see the good in you…and respect yourself.” Betty Shabazz

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