Malcolm X had six children with his wife Betty Shabazz, all of them daughters. Malcolm’s family is gaining new attention in the wake of the new Netflix documentary, “Who Killed Malcolm X?”
Malcolm X’s family continued to suffer tragedy in the wake of his assassination. In fact, one of his daughters, Qubilah, has led a dramatic life full of tragedy and accusation. Other daughters have become human rights activists working to continue their father’s legacy and to better the world.
Malcolm’s widow Betty Shabazz died relatively young in 1997. According to her obituary on CNN, Malcolm’s wife died after suffering severe burns at the age of 61. Even worse, it was suspected that her 12 year old grandson started that fire, CNN reported. He was Qubilah’s son.
Malcolm’s daughters are: Qubilah Shabazz, Attallah Shabazz, Gamilah Lumumba Shabazz, Ilyasah Shabazz, Malaak Shabazz, and Malikah Shabazz.
Malcolm X, age 39, was assassinated inside the Audubon Ballroom in New York City, on February 21, 1965. Three men, Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson were all convicted of murder in the case, but only Hayer admitted involvement and said the other two men were innocent. The documentary raises serious questions about the investigation and murder. Malcolm’s death was only the beginning of the tragedies to hit his wife and family.
Here’s what you need to know about Malcolm’s daughters:
Malcolm’s daughter Qubilah Shabazz has led a traumatic life. She witnessed her dad’s assassination as a young child, her mother died in a blaze set by her son, and her son died in a beating in a Mexican bar. She was also accused of a plot to murder Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Betty Shabazz struggled to live for some time after the blaze set by Qubilah’s son. According to CNN, she was in extremely critical condition after suffering third-degree burns over 80 percent of her body in the fire at her home in Yonkers, New York.
She eventually succumbed to her injuries. CNN reported that the youth was arrested on suspicions he set the blaze because he was unhappy he had been sent to live with his grandmother. She lived for less than a month.
That grandson also died tragically. Then 28 year old, Betty’s grandson Malcolm Shabazz was killed in a bar fight in Mexico City in 2013, according to Guardian.
The Guardian reported that Malcolm was the son of Qubilah Shabazz, one of six daughters that Malcolm X had with Betty. Qubilah had witnessed her dad’s assassination in 1965 when she was just 4 years old.
He served four years in juvenile detention for the fire, Guardian reported. He later told The New York Times that he wished for a sign of forgiveness from his dead grandmother: “I just wanted her to know I was sorry and I wanted to know she accepted my apology, that I didn’t mean it. But I would get no response, and I really wanted that response.” However, he had other brushes with the law.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Percy Sutton, Malcolm’s lawyer, told the court of Qubilah: “This woman was present at the slaughter. This mother never regained a sense of what it is to be in this society. She became a nomad and this was another tragedy.” The lawyer said that Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson, would repeatedly tell him, “I loved Mama Betty, and Mama Betty loved me.”
In 1995, the Justice Department announced the following of Malcolm’s daughter: “…a federal grand jury has indicted Qubilah Shabazz, the daughter of the late Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz). She was charged with using the telephone and traveling interstate in the course of hiring another person to murder Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam.”
The indictment continued, “At all times mentioned in the indictment to the present, no physical attempt on Louis Farrakhan’s life was made, nor was he in immediate danger. Farrakhan, who resides in Chicago, was notified about the investigation by the FBI, which was monitoring the alleged scheme by audiotape, videotape, surveillance, and other investigative methods.”
The government eventually accepted a plea bargain; Qubilah believed Farrakhan bore responsibility for her dad’s death, History.com reports. However, the site concludes that Farrakhan “most likely was not directly involved in the plot.” History.com says the FBI tapes showed Qubilah as a “tentative and unwilling conspirator” with evidence of entrapment so she avoided more serious charges.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the government dropped murder for hire charges and Qubilah agreed “to complete a two-year psychiatric and drug dependency program and to stop contending that the government entrapped her.” Qubilah feared her mother could be in danger after comments she made about Farrakhan.
Attallah is Malcolm’s oldest daughter. Encyclopedia.com describes her as an “artist, actress, theatrical director, producer, lecturer, activist.”
She is also the former ambassador to Belize. “In 2002, after years of personal service, the Honorable Said Musa, Esq., former prime minister of Belize, recognized her as a key advisor on International Cultural Affairs & Project Development, and appointed her as the Ambassador-at-Large, representing Belize internationally and in perpetuity. She has had the honor of being invited to participate in the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Briefing Forums and The United Nations Association,” the Muhammad Ali Center says.
According to her APB speaker’s bureau bio, Attallah “graduated from the United Nations International School at 17 and entered Briarcliff College the following fall semester, majoring in international law with a minor in English.”
She established the Pilgrimage Foundation “in honor of her father’s spiritual journey to the Holy Land,” the site says, quoting her as saying, “It offered him the ‘light of understanding’ and confirmed his vision for our oneness.” With Yolanda King, she also founded a group named Nucleus, Inc. in 1977.
Gamilah Lumumba Shabazz
Gamilah was born in 1964, the year before her dad’s death. She has mostly been in the news recently for her efforts to help her sisters create a clothing line using their dad’s image.
According to the New Yorker, Malcolm’s daughters recently announced a clothing line, called Malcolm X Legacy, that includes sweatshirts, hats, and T-shirts with slogans like “By Any Means Necessary” and “A Man Who Stands for Nothing Will Fall for Anything.”
“We all understand that our father’s reputation and image were misappropriated by the media in the nineteen-sixties,” Ilyasah told the magazine, which says she’s a motivational speaker who “teaches a course on cultural pluralism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.”
She also published a children’s book about her mother called “Betty Before X.” According to the New Yorker, she once criticized Nicki Minaj for “repurposing a famous photograph of Malcolm holding a rifle.”
Ilyasah is active on Twitter. You can find her account here. On it, she defines herself as “Educator | Organizer | Speaker | Author.”
She has been sharing information on the documentary, writing on Twitter, “55 years ago, Malcolm X was assassinated. Serious questions linger. Why was there minimal police presence? Why were 2 of 3 killers convicted with no physical evidence? A 6-part doc series WHO KILLED MALCOLM X? investigates, coming to Netflix Friday 2/7.”
On her website, she writes, “My goal is to empower future generations through understanding the world’s diverse cultures and historic civilizations.”
According to the New Yorker, Malaak and Malikah are the youngest of the daughters. They are twins, born seven months after their father’s death.
Malaak is a human rights activist today. “My father wore his religion in his back pocket. He didn’t push that on anyone… He was very much a Muslim, but he was also black. [In the United States], that meant something,” she told FRANCE 24’s Shona Bhattacharyya.
She added: “Frankly, I don’t think things would be this bad if he was still alive. He was an advocate in every country. If he heard about it, he was there. I think today, he would be the Mandela, be the Kofi Annan, who they called on. There’s really nobody to do that. But it was his passion to make sure injustice was heard.”
Malikah has feuded with her sisters. “One of the daughters, Malikah Shabazz, accuses her two sisters, Ilyasah and Malaak Shabazz, and their former lawyer…’of spending estate money on themselves while permitting property and other estate assets to languish and a tax bill to skyrocket,'” NBC reported.
However, Malikah has had her own travails; she was sentenced to 5 years probation for “swindling an elderly widow out of $55,000 by running up charges on her credit card,” reports KissRichmond.com. That occurred in 2011.
Malikah was arrested with Malcolm’s granddaughter in 2017 and accused of animal cruelty. Pitbulls were discovered being kept in inhumane conditions.
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