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Malcolm X’s Daughter Malikah Found Dead: Lost Her Mother & Been Imprisoned Several Times

Joe Akins
Nov 23, 2021
11:00 A.M.

Malcolm X was one of the leading civil rights activists of the last century, but his life was cut short in the most tragic way. Two weeks after his suspected killers were acquitted, his daughter was found dead.


Malikah Shabazz only got to hear of the name and exploits of her late father, civil rights activist Malcolm X, who died a few months before she was born. Shabazz was one of the six children the late activist had before his assassination in 1965 at age 39.

Like her father, Shabazz had a life that tilted downward. Her life was surrounded by legal troubles and intense family rivalry, not to mention the tragic disaster that followed her mother's death.

A picture of activist, Malcolm X [left]. A picture of Malcolm X's daughter, Malikah Shabazz [right] | Photo: Getty Images

A picture of activist, Malcolm X [left]. A picture of Malcolm X's daughter, Malikah Shabazz [right] | Photo: Getty Images


The 56-year-old was recently found dead in her living room by her daughter, and officials do not suspect foul play. Her 23-year-old daughter found her lying face down, unconscious and unresponsive.


Her death comes days after two men linked with her father's murder were acquitted. Her father, Malcolm X, was shot 16 times at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem in front of a crowd of 400 people, including his pregnant wife, Dr. Betty Shabazz, and three of their daughters.

His death came months after a public spat with the Nation of Islam, an African-American Muslim group that espoused Black separatism, which Malcolm spent over a decade with.

Malcolm X speaking at a rally | Photo: Getty Images

Malcolm X speaking at a rally | Photo: Getty Images

Following Shabazz's death, Bernice King, one of the daughters of fellow civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr, took to her social media to share her condolences, wishing the family peace in this time of grief.

While Shabazz's death comes as a shock, it brings to mind the many troubles she suffered during her lifetime. One of which was her mother's death from a fire accident.



Betty suffered a gruesome death after sustaining burns from a fire set up by her 12-year-old grandson. The 61-year-old suffered third-degree burns, which covered more than 80% of her body.

Doctors took the mother of 6 through several surgical procedures to save her life, but after three weeks, she succumbed to the pain of her burns. Her death sparked wild sympathy from her followers, who saw her as a symbol of the struggle.



Following the death of her husband, Betty, who was a nurse, took the sole responsibility of raising her children. She returned to school, earning a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts in 1975.

She later found work as an administrator at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, but her family often found a way to be in the media for the wrong reasons.


In 2011, calls were made to help raise a $10,000 bond for Shabazz, who had been arrested for a series of charges, including identity theft, forgery, and grand larceny.

She was accused of stealing the identity and funds of Khaula Bakr, who was the widow of Malcolm's former bodyguard. Several community leaders, including Councilman Charles Barron, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and Professor James Smalls, indicated an interest in raising funds for her release.


Shabazz, who had a Ph.D. in educational administration and human development and an MS in mathematical science, was accused of amassing $55,000 in fraudulent credit card transactions, but that was not her only brush with the law.


In 2017, Shabazz was arrested for driving a stolen vehicle with her daughter. Following a closer look at the truck, officials determined that the two were transporting pit bulls stacked in crates and terrible conditions.

Seven animals were found in total, with some of the dogs suffering from serious injuries. Shabazz's daughter, Betty, was accused of stealing, while Shabazz was charged with seven animal abuse charges.



Following the death of Malcolm and his wife, a fight over Malcolm X's widow's estate splintered the couple's six daughters and ended in them airing their dirty laundry.

The daughters have traded allegations of carelessness, mental incompetence, and financial mismanagement of the $1.4 million fortune. The feud between Malcolm's daughters lasted for more than a decade.


The quarrel was exacerbated by disagreements over what to do with the parents' potentially valuable artifacts and objections to numerous accountings of the estate's assets.

Shabazz accused her sisters Ilyasah and Malaak Shabazz and their former lawyer of spending estate money on themselves while allowing property and other estate assets to languish and a tax bill to pile up.


In the aftermath of Malcolm X's assassination, his children embraced different paths and lived separate lives.

While some taint their father's legacy as a black hero, others are playing their parts and have gone on to become human rights advocates, hoping to carry on their father's legacy and make the world a better place.


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