The Untold Truth Of Malcolm X's Daughter, Malikah

As one of the six daughters of civil rights activist Malcolm X, Malikah Shabazz never knew her famous father — mother, Betty Shabazz, was pregnant with her and twin sister, Malaak, when an assassin killed the 39-year-old minister on February 21, 1965. Still, she grew up in the shadow of his legacy (from AP News). Like her dad, Malikah died too soon, at just 56. Shabazz was found her unconscious in her Brooklyn apartment on November 22 (via Yahoo! News). Oddly, her death occurs days after Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam, two of the three individuals sentenced in Malcolm X's death, had their convictions dismissed by Manhattan Judge Ellen Biben after new evidence appeared showing that the original trial never disclosed essential information to the defense. Mujahid Abdul Halim, who confessed to shooting Malcolm X, was let out of prison 11 years ago and always said the two were innocent of the crime, reported The Root

When Malcolm X was shot in the Audubon Ballroom in New York, three of his daughters watched it happen, even as their pregnant mother covered them with her body. The trauma would permeate the family's life as they searched for answers about Malcolm X's assassination (as per The New York Times). But Malikah is more than a famous daughter. She was a private individual who celebrated her family even as the association sometimes challenged her.

The Shabazz family argued about the Malcolm X legacy and estate

Throughout her life, Malikah has contributed to the legacy her father started. She founded the National Organization of African Students in America, for example, to prepare students to live and work in a multicultural country, according to the University of San Diego. However, that doesn't mean the family always agrees on how to extend and preserve Malcolm X's work. When mother, Betty Shabazz, died, the group clashed on what materials from a collection of journals and other documents should be released to the public, according to The New York Times. Because no will existed, the estate settlement moved to Westchester County Surrogate's Court where the case languished for over a decade. At one point, Malikah hired a lawyer who purported that two sisters, Ilyasah and Malaak, as well as their one-time lawyer, squandered estate money.

Malikah faced accusations herself when some of Malcolm X's writings ended up in Butterfields, an auction house in San Francisco. She said that she had stored the items in a facility that took the contents when she failed to pay a bill. The estate ended up buying the materials back for $300,000.

She had run-ins with the law

Like her father, Malikah also grappled with the legal system. For Malcolm X, that meant spending several years in jail, said PBS, where he uses his incarceration to educate himself and improve his oratory skills on the prison debate team. While his daughter was arrested, she never experienced the penal system to the extent her father did. She did face fraud and identity theft charges in 2011, reported The U.S. Sun. Malikah received five years probation after pleading guilty to stealing $55,000 from the then 70-year-old Khaula Bakrof, widow of her father's friend and bodyguard — and someone who was with him when he was killed.

Daughter Bettih Bahiyah Shabazz was arrested with Malikah in 2017 on animal cruelty charges. Police found the pair in a La Plata, Maryland, Walmart parking lot with a stolen U-Haul truck that contained several dogs. The animals were hurt and found in "inhumane conditions," according to the New York Post. The seven pit bulls were locked in crates, sitting in their own excrement, explained AP.  One of the animals needed emergency care for its injured face, neck, and eyes. Malikah told police investigators that she owned the dogs, which were sent to an animal shelter after the arrest.

Malcolm X's family has faced many hardships

The Shabazz family has seen too many tragedies. Besides Malikah's recent death, several others relatives have had their lives cut short. Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of Malcolm X's widow, Betty Shabazz, started a fire at the age of 12 that ended his grandmother's life. The 1997 blaze gave her third-degree burns on more than 80% of her body. After several operations at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, Betty died three weeks later. She was 61 (from The New York Times).

Malcolm died in Mexico City after an argument about a bar tab led to a fight on May 9, 2013. He and a friend spent the night drinking at the Palace bar on Garibaldi Plaza, according to USA Today.  He refused to pay the $1200 he owed and staff robbed and beat him. He died from trauma to the head, face, and body at a hospital several hours later. He was just 28 years old. His friend, Miguel Suarez, said that the bill they received charged them too much and included unfair expenses, a tactic bars in that area sometimes employ with tourists. Several waiters were later arrested for the attack.