Three women who sacrificed their families for ‘ The Movement’ : Coretta Scott King, Betty Shabazz, Myrlie Evers Williams

Only picture of the three -hat tip, JJP reader


Coretta Scott King


Coretta Scott King (April 27, 1927 – January 30, 2006) was an American author and activist, and widow of Martin Luther King, Jr. Alongside her husband, Coretta Scott King helped lead the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Scott King’s most prominent role may have been in the years after her husband’s 1968 assassination; following Dr. King’s death, Mrs. King was responsible for finding a new leader of the civil rights movement.

The King Center:Coretta Scott King

Betty Shabazz


After high school, Shabazz left the comfortable home of her foster parents in Detroit to study at the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), a well-known historically black college in Alabama. It was in Alabama that she encountered her first racial hostilities. She did not understand the causes for the racial issues, and her parents refused to acknowledge these issues. She mentioned this in an autobiographical essay she wrote in 1992, published in Essence Magazine: “They thought [the problems] were my fault.”‘
Shabazz moved to New York City to escape Southern racism, and enrolled as a nursing student at the Brooklyn State Hospital School of Nursing. While in New York, Shabazz’s friend invited her to hear Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X from the Nation of Islam speak at an Islamic temple (Temple No. 7 in Harlem). According to the Essence essay, Shabazz’s friend offered to introduce her to Malcolm X after his speech. Betty’s initial reaction was “big deal”. She continues: “But then, I looked over and saw this man on the extreme right aisle sort of galloping to the podium. He was tall, he was thin, and the way he was galloping it looked as though he was going someplace much more important than the podium… Well, he got to the podium and I sat up straight. I was impressed with him.” They discussed the racism she encountered in Alabama, and she began to understand its causes, pervasiveness, and effects. Soon, Betty was attending all of Malcolm’s lectures. By the time she graduated from nursing school in 1958, she was a member of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad bestowed of his followers the last name “X”, representing the African family name they would never know. She changed her name to “Betty X” a result of her Nation of Islam influence.
When Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965, the couple had four daughters. Shabazz was pregnant with twins at the time of his assassination. She was a registered nurse, having earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the Brooklyn State Hospital School of Nursing in 1958. She continued her education by enrolling in Jersey City State College. Shabazz was determined to provide for her family and serve as a role model for her children. She received a Bachelor of Arts in public health education from Jersey City State College. She returned to pursue her Master of Arts in public health education from Jersey City State College in 1970. In 1975, she received her Ph.D. in education administration at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Betty Shabazz raised her six daughters, Attallah, Qubilah, Ilyasah, Gamilah, and twins Malikah and Malaak, in the Islamic faith.

Myrlie Evers Williams


Myrlie Evers-Williams (born March 17, 1933, nee Myrlie Beasley in Vicksburg, Mississippi) is an American activist. She was the first full-time chairman of the NAACP and is the former widow of murdered civil rights leader Medgar Evers. She met him when they were students at Alcorn A&M College in 1950. They married on December 24, 1951 and she left school before finishing her degree.
They moved to Mound Bayou where her husband sold insurance for Dr. T.R.M. Howard, a civil rights activist. She worked for Howard as a typist until the couple moved to Jackson in 1954.
She and Evers had three children before his murder. In 2001, their oldest son, Darrell Kenyatta Evers, died of colon cancer.[1] Their two surviving children are Reena Denise and James Van.
Evers-Williams went back to school after Evers’ death and graduated from Pomona College, in 1968, with a degree in sociology. She served as director of consumer affairs for Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO), where she developed the concept for the first corporate booklet on women in non-traditional jobs. This booklet, Women at ARCO, was in great demand throughout many printings and revisions.

She twice ran for congress from California’s 24th district. Both times (in a June 1970 special election and the general election later that November) she lost to Republican John Rousselot. In 1971 she helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus.

In 1975, Evers-Williams married her second husband, Walter Williams. He died in 1995 of prostate cancer.

In 1987, Evers-Williams was the first African-American woman appointed to serve as commissioner on the Los Angeles Board of Public Works. Evers-Williams was chairman of the NAACP from 1995 to 1998. She is credited with spearheading the operations that restored the association to its original status as the premier civil rights organization in America. She is the author of For Us, the Living (1967) and Watch Me Fly: What I Learned On the Way to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be (1999). In the best seller, I Dream A World: Black Women Who Changed America, Evers-Williams states that she “greets today and the future with open arms.”



Coretta Scott by Ntozake Shange (Author), Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)

Coretta: The Story of Coretta Scott King by Octavia Vivian

Dare to Dream: Coretta Scott King and the Civil Rights Movement by Angela Shelf Medearis (Author), Anna Rich (Illustrator)

Coretta Scott King: First Lady of Civil Rights (Childhood of Famous Americans) by George E. Stanley and Meryl Henderson

Coretta Scott King (Journey to Freedom) by Cynthia Fitterer Klingel

King (1978)-DVD
Starring: Paul Winfield, Cicely Tyson

Boycott (2001)-DVD

Betty Shabazz, Surviving Malcolm X by Russell Rickford

Growing Up X by Ilyasah Shabazz

Betty Shabazz: Sharing the Vision of Malcolm X by Laura S. Jeffrey

Betty Shabazz: A Sisterfriends Tribute in Words and Pictures by Jamie Foster Brown

Malcolm X (Two-Disc Special Edition) (1992) – DVD

For Us, the Living by Myrlie Evers (Author), William Peters (Author), Willie Morris (Introduction)

Charlie Rose with Rob Reiner; Myrlie Evers- Williams & Bobby DeLaughter – DVD

Ghosts of Mississippi (1996) – DVD

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