The gunmen rose from the crowd and set their sights on Malcolm X. The thunder of shotgun blasts ripped through the ballroom, and Betty Shabazz turned to see her husband float backward, keel over and crash to the ballroom stage. She grabbed her children, hurling them beneath a booth and shielding them with her body while the room erupted into screams and chaos. As she lay there squeezing her family, the Betty Shabazz who was the dutiful and obedient wife of the Civil Rights Movement's most feared leader ceased to be, and the woman who emerged would become one of the greatest heroines of our day.
Betty Shabazz, Surviving Malcolm X is the first major biography of Dr. Betty Shabazz, the unsung and controversial champion of the Civil Rights era. From her early marriage to black liberation's raging voice through her evolution into a powerful and outspoken African-American leader, Betty Shabazz was in constant struggle to bring freedom and justice to her people. Yet, at times her greatest fight was to struggle through tragedy and hold on to her faith amidst the stereotypes forced on her by a culture of racism and the very people she was trying to liberate.
To read Betty Shabazz, Surviving Malcolm X is to experience this remarkable life. With eloquent and intimate prose, Russell J. Rickford puts you on the scene as a young Betty Sanders is taken in by foster parents after a troubled childhood. You are there as Malcolm X comes home from a hard day of railing against oppression to hug his children, dote on his wife and laugh. You dive under the table at the Audubon Ballroom as bullets strike Malcolm down. You struggle with Betty Shabazz as she fights to raise six girls alone while earning a doctorate. You stand triumphant with her as she claims her own individuality and fights to build respect for Malcolm. And you stand watch with her daughters as Betty passes away, a victim of yet another tragedy, but this time after a life lived full.
Russell J. Rickford has conducted extensive research to compile this biography, interviewing more than seventy of Betty Shabazz's family members, friends, colleagues and contemporaries as well as researching countless records and documents, including recently declassified FBI, CIA and New York Police files. This is the first complete look at the life of Betty Shabazz and a new insight into the man who was known as Malcolm X.
Betty Shabazz is the story of a strong woman who faced incredible tragedy and emerged triumphant, compassionate and always full of life. In the end, it is the story of a nation torn apart by hatred learning to heal and forgive.
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About the Author
Russell J. Rickford is the coauthor of Spoken Soul, about the expressive qualities of black vernacular, and he is a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Howard University and studied under such black scholars as Molefi Kete Asante, Russell Adams, Charles Metz and E. Ethelbert Miller. He was born in Guyana and currently lives in New York City, where he is a PhD candidate in history at Columbia University.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Myrlie Evers-Williams
Introduction: A Miracle in the Desert
Chapter 1: A Brass Valentine
Chapter 2: A Velvet Glove
Chapter 3: Leaving the Grave
Chapter 4: Windows of the Heart
Chapter 5: Sinews of Independence
Chapter 6: A Perilous Orbit
Chapter 7: Foresight
Chapter 8: Revelations
Chapter 9: The Death Card
Chapter 10: After the Winter
Chapter 11: Bahiyah
Chapter 12: Reconstruction
Chapter 13: Humanist
Chapter 14: "Dr. Shabazz"
Chapter 15: Journey to Respectability
Chapter 16: Repercussion
Chapter 17: Celebrity
Chapter 18: Mother's Day
Chapter 19: Starting Over
About the Author