Betty Shabazz: a Remarkable Story of Survival and Faith Before and After Malcolm X
by Russell J Rickford
A late-night read on my Kindle while trying to get the dog to sleep, I was starting to feel bad about how long it was taking me to read this autobiography until I saw on Goodreads that it’s over 600 pages. In fairness Dr Betty Shabazz lived a full and fascinating life that deserves every one of those pages. She was so much more than Mrs Malcolm X, though of course that marriage made her famous and opened the door for her to be an activist and ambassador.
Rickford says in his introduction that he will concentrate on Betty’s life before and after Malcolm, but inevitably their seven years of marriage form a lot of the narrative and at times this veers into being yet another Malcolm X or Nation of Islam biography. He also refers to her as “the widow” a lot, which somewhat undermines his stated mission to depict her as more than that role. Not that it was easy role to hold.