Dr. Betty Shabazz (born Betty Dean Sanders and also known as Betty X) is best known as the wife of Malcolm X. But she was herself a force in the fight for Black liberation. In healthcare and nursing. In the field of education and her unwavering commitment to educating students who looked like her. Mother of six daughters. Daughter of Tuskegee -- though she didn't finish her education at Tuskegee because of the racism she encountered in Alabama. Sister of Delta Sigma Theta. And doctor of education.
Dr. Shabazz grew up in an upper middle class adoptive Black family in Detroit that instiilled in her the importance of education and self-determination. After the death of her husband in 1965, Dr. Betty Shabazz became an important voice in the fight for equality, centering her efforts on education and human-rights causes, as well as issues crucial to women and children. Her work focused a lot on issues of health and education for children. She was an administrator and key fundraiser at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York (CUNY) system until she died in 1997 of burn injuries. In 2002, the college created the Dr. Betty Shabazz Distinguished Chair in Social Justice in her honor.
Young Students (K3-2nd Grade)
Dr. Shabazz and her husband, Malcolm X, both believed education is an important piece of the fight for human rights and increasing self-respect. What role do you think school plays in your life and your future? What do you enjoy about school? What do you think your teachers and the other leaders at school can do to better prepare you for your future?
Middle Students (Grades 3-8)
Dr. Shabazz's family didn't like to talk about race. They believed that if one didn't make trouble, they could live comfortable lives unimpacted by racism. When she got out on her own, first in Alabama, then in New York, Dr. Shabazz was shocked by the racism she encountered. Has there ever been a time in your life when you thought if you just ignored a problem, it would go away? What happened?
High School Students (Grades 9-12)
One of Dr. Shabazz's most well-known quotes is, "Most people can't deal with reality, but indulge heavily in fantasy and fear." What does this quote mean to you? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
Both Betty and Malcolm Shabazz (X) believed that education is a key piece of a people's liberation and ability to advance. How are you approaching this task of education for liberation? Do your students feel free or bound in your classroom and school? Are they free to be their full selves, or are they subject to rigid structures for the sake of compliance and a false sense of order that doesn't actually encourage student learning and curiosity?
About the Series
A Black Child Can was founded to create a better world for students by empowering the adults around them with the knowledge they need to advocate on their behalf. The 2022 blog series builds on this foundation, encouraging educators to participate in the discussion and reflect on the ways they're showing up for their students.