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Leigh Fought

Helen Pitts was born in Honeoye, New York, the daughter of the white abolitionists Gideon and Jane Wills Pitts. Her father began working with the renowned abolitionist and escaped slave Frederick Douglass in 1846. Thus, from an early age Helen knew of Douglass and his work. Her parents, wealthy enough to pursue their progressive ideals, ensured that she and her sisters, Eva and Jane, received a better education than most girls of the era. Although few institutions of higher learning accepted women students, Eva attended Cornell and Helen and Jane both attended Mount Holyoke College. Helen graduated in 1859.

Reconstruction offered Helen the opportunity to combine her education with her activism. She moved to Norfolk, Virginia, to teach in a school for freed slaves in 1863 The swampy climate there took its toll on her health and the violent hostility faced by the African American ...


Sibyl Collins Wilson

minister and youngest daughter of the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., was born Bernice Albertine King in Atlanta, Georgia. The youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, she was named after both her maternal and paternal grandmothers, Alberta Williams King and Bernice McMurray. One of the most memorable images of young King was a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of her as a sad girl leaning on her mother during her father's funeral taken by Moneta Sleet Jr. and published in Ebony magazine In the shadow of her father s murder their mother covered King and her siblings protectively as she promoted her husband s legacy Every attempt was made to provide a normal upbringing for her and the other three King children The strength of her family history propelled her desire to chart her professional course in life so ...


Jennifer Jensen Wallach

widow of Malcolm X and educator. Born Betty Jean Sanders in Detroit, Michigan, Shabazz was raised there in a middle-class family by her adoptive parents Lorenzo Don and Helen Malloy. As a youth she was active in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She briefly attended the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama before enrolling in nursing school at the Brooklyn State Hospital in New York. While studying nursing Shabazz taught a class in women's health at the Nation of Islam's Temple Number 7 in Harlem. There she met the charismatic civil rights leader and Nation of Islam minister Malcolm X.

In 1958 she completed her nursing studies, converted to Islam, and married Malcolm X. They broke with the Nation of Islam in 1964, joining mainstream Islam and adopting the name “Shabazz.” The couple had six daughters, Atallah, Qubilah, Ilyasah, Gamilah, Malikah, and Malaak ...


James Lance Taylor

activist, was born Betty Dean Sanders in Pinehurst, Georgia (though she later claimed Detroit, Michigan), to Shelman “Juju” Sandlin, a Philadelphia steelworker, and Ollie Mae Sanders, who conceived her out of wedlock as a teenager. Rumors of maternal neglect (Sandlin was an absent father) landed Betty in Detroit, Michigan, with her devout Catholic foster parents Helen Lowe, a grammar school teacher, and Lorenzo Don Malloy a shoemaker and proprietor. She was their only child.

Growing up with the Malloys, young Betty witnessed Helen Malloy's activism in social uplift causes through a Detroit affiliate of the National Housewives League the National Council of Negro Women and the then militant National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Betty participated in the Detroit League s youth program where she competed in debutant contests studied Negro history and affiliated with the well regarded Del Sprites social club Long ...


There is some uncertainty about Betty Shabazz's origins and early life. Reportedly the daughter of Shelman Sandlin and a woman named Sanders, she was born Betty Sanders and grew up as a foster child in the Detroit, Michigan, home of a black family named Malloy. As a youth she was active in her local African Methodist Episcopal Church. She briefly attended Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Alabama but moved to New York City to escape Southern racism and to study at the Brooklyn State Hospital School of Nursing. During her junior year, she attended the Nation of Islam's Temple No. 7 in Harlem. There she taught a women's health and hygiene class and was noticed by Malcolm X, who was a minister at the temple. He proposed to her by telephone from Detroit, and they were married in 1958.

Shabazz converted to Islam ...


LaVonne Roberts Jackson

“Don’t you let anybody believe that being married to one man all this long time, that we didn’t have our mountains, our valleys, and our downs,” declared Hajj Bahiyah Betty Shabazz, widow of the slain black Muslim civil rights leader Malcolm X (el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz). The marriage was ended by tragedy: on 21 February 1965, while speaking at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, Malcolm X was assassinated. Shabazz remained devoted to the legacy of her husband by involving herself in civil rights, community issues, global affairs, and human rights activism, all of which kept her in the American consciousness and media. She was a leader, a teacher, and a mentor whose motto was “find the good and praise it.”

Shabazz was born in Detroit, Michigan, and adopted by Lorenzo Don and Helen Malloy an upper middle class couple She joined the local Methodist church and attended Northern ...