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Tuesday evening on the eve of Malcolm X's birthday his widow Mrs. Betty Shabazz spoke at McLean and high school her talk was sponsored by Merritt College Community Services because the format which Mr. Baez chose we had to record the audience's questions. Mr. Shabazz introduced by the president of Merrick college Dr. Norville Smith. Tonight we're here to honor one of the real saints of the black movement. I colleges you know observes tomorrow as a holiday in commemoration of Brother Malcolm And what better way can we express our love and reverence of his memory and his leadership and his sacrifices for us than to have his lifetime partner with us tonight to share a few moments with us special guest Mrs. Betty Shabazz. Has a. Particular moment. Chris. Thank you very much.
You know there's a time. Difference. I got up at 5 o'clock this morning and New York time which was. 2:00 here and then Mr. Parson had me running around all day. But I'm very pleased to be here with you for the president of America Howard. Dr. Smith to Mr. Parsons. And to the community of Oakland and to the staff of America Howard I'm very pleased to be here with you. I have been kind of busy all day and I thought. When I went back to my quarters that perhaps what would be more profitable to you is if I would answer some of your questions about Malcolm rather than to give you. Rather than give a speech and give you some parts of his life perhaps that you are already familiar with so that if you have any
questions about Malcolm or anything you want cleared up. I would be most pleased to answer. How do you perceive the relationship between nationalism and Pan-Africanism which which Malcolm was working on when he died. Nationalism is a collecting force of gathering people together and letting them know what they have. The Simula are today's. Mother Country language custom history lifestyle. The variations there are. And it's natural and normal. For most anthropological groupings to have a love for all of this that is there. But most people of African descent. I'm not aware of or don't pay that much attention to or have
been so dominated by other cultures. Some are embarrassed to claim their African heritage or whatever so that nationalism then serves as a collecting force and it could be by a stretch of the imagination considered to be primary nationalism where Pan-Africanism then becomes secondary nationalism because then it is the same thing only it is between the African people all over the world. Can you understand that. See the brothers done his homework he just wants me to repeat something else. Is there never a question you'd like to ask that you don't think of. But I think we are now moving
from a nationalistic point to a Pan-Africanism. You know pad more in the 20s. I spoke often about pan-Africanism in Europe. Well I think on a personal basis I'd love to answer all questions about New York New York is dear to my heart. New York is the place that my husband loved. He was fascinated by it when he was 16 and 17 years old I guess because of the bright lights and coming from Lansing Michigan so that. New York. Is dear to my heart for several reasons but I think perhaps New York we could perhaps
discuss over coffee. And answer questions that are little more pertinent to why I am here. If you don't my. Oh my. Is it possible that the United States is going to honor America's birthday as a national holiday. I don't know. You know I kind of I kind of doubt it. Oh although although I think. In a few years history will. Bear me out that he has. Done more to defining and. Pointing the finger at a solution than any other. Citizen in this country. No he wasn't a citizen was it. But. Thanks but. Thanks. So I don't I don't know what they're going to do. I I would like to hope
that black folks remember Malcolm. Because it is for them that he gave his life. They tell me thank you tell me that I'm meeting in Harlem that he was offered. Six million dollars and we were very poor. Not to stop what he was doing but to slow it down. And he refused three times. As if someone was offering him a dollar. And he did it for black folks. Name a movement. That has not in some way. Took advantage of black folks. And he vowed. That if he never had anything for the rest of his life. That would be one thing he would not do. And his life was completely
dedicated to the liberation of black people. I saw in Jett where they said that some government paid for his. One of his trips to Africa. Malcolm paid for both of his trips to Africa because he went in search of something and he went to get support for something and it certainly was not himself. And he was the only person that I know of in my lifetime. And believe me I'm not that I know. And after reading history that did not take advantage of the situation or the position that he was in. Look at some of our leaders today. Well first position power. They can have this much.
And if it's threatened they'll sell their mother down the river let alone you. Oh ah. And he did. And for that I'm very proud. Is there another. Yes there's a conflict between those who put their energy behind cultural national nationalism and those who advocate political nationalism which side would welcome a supporter. You can't man without culture is de it. Man without politics is also dead. You need both. You know that's just like saying you know to have a sandwich. Some say you don't have the bread some say you don't have the meat you need both. You can't separate life. You have to have the political aspect the social aspect
the economic aspect. There are some who say you don't need any money but you have to have some money if you don't have an image like my daughter now she's 12 years old. And she told me she didn't care anything at all about money. She doesn't have to. Everything she needs and that's every day I have to give her money for something for lunch. She comes in she needs pants because she's going to play or they're going someplace or she need money for books or it's milk money time again or she needs money for something. We can't minimize our culture. We can't minimize politics. We can no longer be alienated from one another because of social positions or because of economic reasons or
because of politics we need all of them. How could anyone. I understand that somebody was saying you don't. You know because I was going to wear a bright print gala tonight and they say oh no no no you can't wear that because they will consider you a cultural nationalist. I'm a black woman period. You know I am. One thing Martin said was that politics and religion shouldn't divide black folks. You know and there are some people who are not supporting Angela Davis because she says she's a communist. And when you know the Communists now are no threat to you just a threat if you're black. The pope now.
That's true though. The Pope. Is trying to work out some. Form of communication and working together with the communist. The pope the Catholic Pope. So if black people don't support Angela Davis because she is a communist and supporter because she's a black woman you don't want to support her because she's a black woman supporter because she's a human being but for God's sake support her. T religion and politics should not divide. Neither should culture and politics divide should because we need both. How in the world can black people be any more divided than what we are now. A woman said she had problems understanding the Nation of Islam problems understanding the Nation of Islam.
Do you know any black Muslims. Do they have a black Muslim mosque in this vicinity. They do why don't you go there and find out. If. You attended or then I think you should rephrase your question. Then you want to know what I have to say about them is not right. If you've been attending the mass I'm sure you. Are. Malcolm was put out of the movement because of some things he found out. Period. You know I don't think I will at this point you know. At this particular point I doubt if you don't already know. And I thought everybody knew. 80. And if you don't know you cannot back your homework.
T I was told there are about five or six black Muslims in the audience maybe they'll raise their hands and I'm sure they're here. Yes. Yeah. What states appear to be most aware about Malcolm. Most aware in what sense. Well I don't know what states I really can't say but I just left Chicago Sunday and they had the dedication of Malcolm X Community College which is a beautiful school and Dr. Herm's is the president and is doing fantastic in a fantastic job out there with the students who have dedicated this the school for the purpose of educating the students in all areas.
It's a 23 acre site and. It will be the Center for Urban Education in Chicago. So that I think perhaps Chicago and that. Really catching a lot of people by surprise it caught me by surprise that Chicago would be the hub of what Malcolm is all about. If you can understand the significance of that and I really don't know what had happened. But I was over 26 million dollar new building named after Malcolm would be in Chicago. I don't understand. I am what they are doing fantastic things to the Mons of the young people there.
Absolutely. And they are involved in the tedious tie us. Of studying and don't consider it. How can I say to master the academic disciplines for our students. With all of the things that they have to go through with it is a tedious task but they are mastering them. Two years four months and some weeks back I was asked to come to Chicago because there was going to name the school after my husband crying college. Crane community college when I went there you know it was very dingy walls you know one of these old type buildings that was nothing
motivating at all and creative about the building. I don't see how anyone could learn and if you know the gray and the Tyan walls and there was all sorts of things on the wall you know pictures and words in case you didn't understand what you was broke and I and there were kids who couldn't quite make it to class you know they would like go to sleep in the cartons if you understand me. And I said what in the name of goodness is this. And there were 40 policeman exporting white teachers to their classes. And I just said you know this man is out of his ma. In the next year he decided that he would take the kids out of the building the
students out of the building. And he would find someplace it was on loan because the building was too depressing and he found two buildings that was suitable but they were on the extreme ends of town. So then they had to get a bus to take them back and forth to quiesce you know everybody was complaining you know because Dr. HERZ really was out of his mind. And then this year Sunday in fact they had at the dedication service in the new building. And it is absolutely fantastic. The man has done. A magnificent job. Dr. HERZ you know he goes back you know most of our youngsters have have gone through this thing of you know Reform School of what I think he was locked up a week or something. But they papers have played it
up big you know. He was a high school drop out. He's a doctor mind you but they have to go back to this high school drop out and you know I was in jail or whatever. But whatever it is he has been able to relate to the students and I have not seen another black school in this country that can be compared to it. And I think it stands as a living monument that we can do it and we all should be very proud of it. Never in my life have I been so proud of the students. Some of the students who had been going to it's a two year school mind you had been and been in college for seven years. Some had been there as long as two years and didn't even have any college credits they were still doing remedial work. Whatever was against the school that school had it. Now the
students. Because of the still center they have a tutorial program that is better than org can be compared to any program in any of the colleges there in Chicago. He has done a fantastic job. He discovered he was a middle class black man and he discovered that he was black. Some years back. And decided that he would spend the rest of his life. Doing something for black students. They have some white teachers still on staff and I think those that are there. Are there because they want to be there and they are really doing a job. Along with the black professors there I was very impressed Dr. Shabbath who is chancellor of Community College of the community
colleges in Chicago was very pleased with Dr. Herbst and all of the innovative and creative ideas that he has brought to Chicago. And if any of you get an opportunity to visit it you really should. Yes there's a saying behind every great man there's a great woman. What were your influences on Malcolm really. I think I think Malcolm did more for me than I could ever do for him. I think any other woman who'd been with him would have equally or more than i did i would happen to have been just there when he needed me that saw. I think the saying is perhaps correct but I think it was all Malcolm. I just happened to have been there that's all.
Of course I had some influence. I am. Sure I don't want to you know I don't want to brag. Sure I have some influence on him but part of me sisters know I. Carried. You for the still stay still long enough to let him show you. I asked. How great a role did spiritual commitment play in Malcolm's life and work. It played a role in his life played a part in his life. But he didn't stay down. Yeah it was a motivating force and he got up and did his job. You know some used drugs some use liquor some used a lot of other
things you know. So I think that was a good thing. You know I think first of all. That you're not going to have everybody like this was brought up in a press conference today about the disunity among black folks. I think there is unity among black folks. What we want is everybody looking in the same direction at the same time and everybody bowing at the same time. You know there is diversity and unity there is variations and unity. It would be a very dull thing for everybody to do the same thing at the same time. So we are as unified as in any
other anthropological grouping. The only thing is. That we have not had the opportunity that other and illogical groupings have had. They were never in slaved. We stand head and shoulder to any other anthropological grouping. Name another people that have been. Oh pressed in sly. Intergrated as black folks. And still today maintain some degree of directness. One thing is you know some of us are ritualistic. If it's not written in the Bible you know we won't believe it. Some are idealist some romanticist
you know some are. Democrat Republican socialist and some are Baptists Muslim Methodists Lutherans. But we must somehow find a common denominator. We must not let religion philosophy whatever divide us. We have a common ancestry. And if that's the common denominator then let's start with that and work with that. Because a lot of you are not going to be Muslims and a lot of you are not going to be Baptists and a lot of you are not going to be socialist. But you're still black. So what are we going to do sit around with our differences and not try to work together. We must do better than that. Is there another question.
Yeah. Yeah. Pardon me. I am not. No I'm not a member of the Republic of New Africa. But you know a lot of people are turned off because they say that they want some state in the south and they were you know trying to buy land and all of that I think again we should examine our history. You know one of the advocate of getting land and setting up a Republican in the South was John Brown. And he said that because when they are docked at the Constitution of the United States they said that black people were not citizens and he was so angered supposedly by the statement that he said black folks should take Lyad in the south and
set up a republic. You know they have been throughout history throughout the five centuries that we have been here attempts to get my man and set up some states you know so that because in contemporary times we hear the statement we cannot say that you know people are not sane or whatever. But it has been going on and on and on and on and on but I am not a part of the Republic of New Africa but if they can get some land and set up a republic. Right on. Really. Another question. What was my grouping in South Africa. What is your opinion in South Africa. Come on come on. Well you know most black folks this is not even involved in blackness have some opinion about South Africa. They tell me that that Mississippi would make is a democracy compared to South Africa.
You know you know the Dutch you know England gave them my after the war. Gave them. Land and a lease for 99 years and when they asked the people to leave them you know they said it was their land and they have most of the land and have pushed the indigenous people back. And I bought this unit sphere in Africa two summers ago. You perhaps can't see it and it cost seventy six dollars and it was either 76 or 9 and 6 I'm not sure which one it was just this little human sphere here and they are compelled to get in the gold mines you know at the regular bricks. Here we have a leaven of those a day and they are paid something like two dollars thirty cents a day or something
that as ridiculous as there are complete exploitation and most American business has money invested over there. Most of your big business in this country supports a pastor. They'd not only if you happen to have children of gradations in color they divide your family up. It is the worst country on earth. And all of the liberal whites who want to do something. For the world who want to do something to salvage their so. As long as South Africa is South Africa. The things that go on in South Africa you would never really believe it. You would never believe it.
You know like really the press kind of shapes world opinion what happened about a year ago maybe not quite a year ago when Zambia decided she wanted to nationalize her copper belt eyin Zambia is a land a lot country right is like north of South Africa. So whenever she wants to send her copper out. She has to go first south and then east and go all around the water. She wanted to build a tube line. In fact she did Biller to blind into Tanzania to get you know food and things like this because whenever South Africa was mad or didn't or Zambia didn't do what she wanted her to do she would not let her copper
out. Neither would she let food into the country. So the United States was asked to build a railroad and I think after six months they decided as this country did need a road. So then they asked China to build a railroad China was building and working and I am building three decked ships. What is it three deckers. Whatever ships long before the Europeans could build a raft to keep water off of it so that the Chinese really know how to work and I am so. By 1976 they will have a railroad from one end of Zambia to the other and now they are saying that the Zambia is a communist country but Zambia is not a communist country. She had to think in terms of the people.
And getting food to them. So we have to understand policies and how to formulate policy and how to have get policies changed. So what you should do is find out what is necessary to be done so that you can see in the troops that are now in Southeast Asia or into South Africa. Yes. What kind of future I'm hoping for my children that they grow up and be able to take care of themselves and make contributions to the community and have. Commitments to themselves and be accountable to their own people. I don't know if I answered. Yes what time is it getting. Yes.
What kind of role do you see road China playing in opera. I don't know what kind do you see. Well I tell you they are opening up now trade in United States and China is something I forgot what it was a something in China that Americans want. Not no no no no. This is a fact. I forgot what it was. It has something to do with. No I won't say what it has something to do with but trade. And also you know there they have lifted the Iron Curtain you know they're letting people travel in there and I think one of the things that they said they were doing is when they invited the tennis team was that tennis Ping-Pong ride ride. They didn't have not one member of the CIA who played ping pong said to go around cameras in the whole United States to find somebody to play ping pong.
I read that in the New York Times. Yes. I don't know what part China is going to play what part will any country play in trade and exchange you know commerce. I don't know. Yes. No. Gene Robinson. John Roberts didn't fall for me. Oh. Oh. Was supposed to have been on the stage given artificial respiration. Yeah yeah. Well I don't know you know your brother's. Pretty good at impersonating. And that's exactly what he did and you got a lot of them today running around finding out whatever they can
find out in a man already knows that you know they tell me that they got information that they haven't even read yet they they're getting it in so fast you can't even read it. I'm numb now serious. Serious. In the end. And you brother still going around. You know given information and grab and 30 pieces of silver and you know things like there and it will continue to go on it's not gonna stop. And it has gone on and on. And I remember him I never had that much to say to him. And he was a rookie cop and he certainly didn't act like one. What I want to know is did Malcolm's philosophy ever change about the white beast. Account. Ah because you know
you know when Malcolm was here like. Like he worked very hard and there were people persecuting him you know he never really dreamed. You know they would have ado never really dreamed you know that all of the lies would be you know. So he wanted to go to Mecca. To you know. Really find out. Because all he had done for those 12 years was believe him. And he was told that you know there was only dark. Skinned people in Mecca. You know he was told this and he believed this you know when he got to Mecca. And Jahar he you know had to go through some people somewhat dark but there was some that was extremely fair. He said had he been had they been in the United States they would be considered
white. They were he said hair the whitest of skin and the bluest of our lives. They were different from your opinions. They don't call themselves Europeans they've been in Mecca since Mecca was was Mecca. No no no no let me tell you this now. You don't know what this does to a person who's been told and who deeply believe something. And he noticed their attitude their attitude was not like people in this country. So what he did was he wrote and related an observation. And people thought he went there and planted these people like he planted
corn and they grow. He found them and and sent a letter back. And he said perhaps if the people in America would accept the philosophy that these people of perhaps. Racism that is eating America up like cancer would not exist. When he got back they said to him. Have you changed. He said it's impossible for me to change before the white man changes. It's impossible for a knife to be in my back 10 inches and somebody pulls it out two inches and say Are you still hurting. Now bright folks don't want to get so narrow minded and so
inflexible. That you cannot understand certain situations. Roy Wilkins even say it's a shame that he had to die because he was coming our way. And somebody else said it's a shame he had to die because he was coming our way. And then somebody else said that it's a shame we had to die because it was coming our way Malcolm said once he said I feel like a man on a tight rope. For the religious stuff I'm too worldly and for the world to religious and for the political something else and something else you know. And all he was trying to do was trying to find a solution to some of the ills of black folks that have lasted for five centuries. And if you've had people for five centuries working here and have not yet found the answer what does common sense say to you do
you look outside of here right. And that's what he was doing. And he had found some solutions. As I was saying before pad more in the 20s spoke of pan-Africanism DuBois in the 30s had committed it to paper but it was not until 1964 at the summit conference in Egypt that the problems between Africans and African-Americans were internationalized by Malcolm few people in this country know about that but they do publicize the fact that Malcolm taught hate that Malcolm taught violence and yet can you remember any incident or act of violence he was ever a part of. Can you. Surely you must. Some of you have been saying that that man is a violent or.
He said the reason he talked the way he talked was to start over. Did I answer your question little brother. No. I think I think as adults we owe the younger generations something. And some of the schools some of the teachers we can always blame white teachers I understand some of the black teachers are not doing what they should and. I understand that there's a family of seven children. Understand that there's a family of seven children and all of my being taught by black teachers and every one of them is failing. What do you think they're going to be in there from the ages of 6 and 14 or something. That is incredible. I teach public health to pregnant three mornings a week and if one.
Doesn't come up I feel it's my job to make sure that she knows. I don't know where the commitment is with black teachers. We have to be accountable. To ourselves we have to make certain commitments to ourselves. We can't sit around and always blame other people it's easy and sometimes it's beautiful and now it's all gasket revolutionary ism to do so. But we're going to have to change. We have to be response to our communities. We have certain obligations to our community and to our children. And I think that should be about it unless somebody want to ask one last question. Oh I was going to point there but you got up and said Sister OK.
Me. Me. Me before. Wow. Yes before there can be any meaningful change. You know we don't really like this you know really. My husband used to say you know beware of the pupil of the eyes that looks onto all things but to the US south is blind. We have to start with our self and move out. And so you know part of me wants to hear that. Right. I can say you know sometimes they are people. Now I will say yes. Yes.
Well by the welfare. State. Are they sterilized. I thought they were. I started as a mother giving them some form of contraception. There isn't any difference. Now come on come on now look look don't. Try to in on a nice NO NO NO don't have me you know what I want I want to say oh OK you say it and then I'll answer. Did Malcolm stare at the newspaper Muhammad speaks. He did brother in the basement of our house. The man worked in this. When I say they're US I don't say lightly. He worked in the city. No combination worked as hard as he worked because he believed you. You know we don't really listen to each other you know like words you know
words pass. He started the paper in the basement of our house and when it became money making you know took it and I ran by asking if you see black people developing a politic unified politic on which we can act. Oh there's a lot already in existence you can act on you know like there are sporadic groups around the country have already tried to organize and have not gotten proper support. You see we must learn to support. All of us cannot. Be the ones to go down in history as haven't developed something we must lend our support to those things already in existence. We waste time energy and money.
Oh I want to get back to this question you know because I know we are all emotional about you know birth control and all of the sort of things you know. And I seem to be you know every time I go someplace you know it's always the brothers you know and I asked this question you know let me tell you something. Wow I'm afraid to say this. Now now wait a minute hold your judgment just hold your judgment now listen I am one parent with six babies and it is no easy yes. Did you hear what I said. It is no easy task. And I have not gotten any letters from many problems around the country telling me what they would like to help me do for my six daughters. No no no no no no.
No no no no no no no no. I cannot be mother and father right. I can only be the best mother that I possibly can am and I can have some of my male friends come in and give some sort of image you know. And when the image becomes image and I'll get somebody else to say. I didn't finish it I didn't finish it. It is not an easy thing to raise children like you don't have the time you don't have the money to raise them proper and also you don't need any money because my taxes just went up. You need money and I have to pay taxes for those who don't pay taxes but I pay it quietly. Because I understand the predicament. So somebody's got to have some money.
Now I said all that to say it. I don't have to man. But after the fact as certainly do believe in birth control. Now wait a minute. And now it is popular to have babies. Single women have babies a lot of the revolutionary brothers are steady making them. And you don't know when there's no milk money. When you are doing your revolutionary duties and task. That little baby don't want to hear when the baby is sick. I. Just lost my lifesaver. When the baby is sick. The mother don't want to hear it at that point and we
understand what you brothers have to do and we appreciate it. But at the same time let us have healthy babies those babies that we have let them be healthy. Let them be well. Oh educated let them be able to take over. When our day is done. Now I do not believe in sterilizing that anybody or sterilizing certainly should get a movement against that. But now if they are practicing some form of contraception. For the convenience of the brothers then I would suggest that we. See one of my favorite brothers ask their questions. He met me at the airport today and I really don't want to do the story. But. What is a.
Fact. I mean it is something that and some of the sisters have babies too rapidly. And some of you are doing things you shouldn't do and should be sterilized. How. Do you know they're trying to legalize marijuana. My advice and it's not too much to it but it is carcinogenic effects mutation. A lot of other things a lot of these babies born deformed. It is because. There is some quality in marijuana's and smaller portions of the same ingredients that LSD my friend there went to Tuskegee with. I understand she's on staff at Merritt College.
Do you know the name of the quality that's in LSD and also in. One of the. Pardon me. She doesn't want to say anything so she have to face you in class. But. I would advise you know if you taken a puff now and then that you make it a little less frequent if you're going to have babies or if you're going to be given babies you know really really that's that's square business. And I'm very pleased that I was here with you today and I love you all. Thank you very much. Thank you Auntie. This program was produced by KPFA Pacifica Radio for northern California.
The sister's been doing her homework / Betty Shabazz.
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Mrs. Betty Shabazz (May 28, 1934 _ June 23, 1997), educator, activist, and wife of Malcolm X, speaks on the eve of Malcolm X's birthday at McClymonds High School in Oakland, California as a guest of Merritt College. She speaks about her and Malcolm's efforts within the Black Civil Rights movement and takes questions from the audience. Mrs. Shabazz is introduced by the President of Merritt College, Dr. Norville Smith. Note: Audio quality is inconstant, some dips and wavering in tone.
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Shabazz, Betty; X, Malcolm, 1925-1965; Black Muslims; African American women civil rights workers; African Americans--Civil rights--History
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Producing Organization: KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
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Chicago: “The sister's been doing her homework / Betty Shabazz.,” 1971-05-20, Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 22, 2024,
MLA: “The sister's been doing her homework / Betty Shabazz..” 1971-05-20. Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 22, 2024. <>.
APA: The sister's been doing her homework / Betty Shabazz.. Boston, MA: Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from