Malikah Shabazz, the daughter of the late civil rights leader, Malcolm X, was found dead in her Brooklyn apartment on Monday, according to law enforcement. Her cause of death is unknown at this time, but the 56-year-old is believed to have died of natural causes.
The youngest of Malcolm X’s six daughters, Malikah Shabazz was not yet born when her father was assassinated on Feb. 21, 1965. She also has a twin sister, Malaak Shabazz.
“I’m deeply saddened by the death of Malikah Shabazz,” said Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter. “My heart goes out to her family, the descendants of Dr. Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X. Dr. Shabazz was pregnant with Malikah and her twin sister, Malaak, when Brother Malcolm was assassinated. Be at peace, Malikah.”
A spokesman from the New York Police Department (NYPD) said that they are still investigating what happened to Malikah Shabazz, but that no foul play is suspected.
She was found dead in her Midwood apartment just days after two of the three men who had been convicted of killing her father were exonerated. New York County Supreme Court Administrative Judge Ellen Biben granted their motion for exoneration 56 years after Malcolm X was shot, citing unsubstantial evidence and new information that undermined the case against them.
According to the New York Post, she was discovered by her daughter, Bettih Shabazz, at around 4:40 p.m. on Monday. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea commented that she had been “ill for a period of time,” but did not specify any further.
“At this point in time, working with other authorities, the medical examiner, and speaking to the family, she had been ill for a period of time, and at this point, nothing appears suspicious,” he told local reporters. He added that they were “absolutely not” looking for any suspects.
Betty Shabazz, Malika’s mother, died in 1997, two years after her daughter Qubliah was arrested for allegedly conspiring to murder Nation of Islam head Louis Farakhan. Malcolm X had famously left the Nation of Islam after disputes with its founder, Elijah Muhammad.
Betty Shabazz took in Qubilah’s son, her grandson Malcolm, and he accidentally set fire to her apartment, causing Betty to acquire serious burns that she succumbed to three weeks later. Malcolm was later murdered in Mexico City at the age of 28, reportedly fighting to help demand better working conditions for Mexican construction workers.
Malcolm X’s daughter, Malikah Shabazz, had many runs in the law over the year, including a case of identity theft back in 2011. Stealing the identity of one of her father’s former bodyguard’s widow, Khaula Bakr, Shabazz reportedly collected over $55,000. Arrested for the crime, she was given probation.
Later in 2017, Malikah Shabazz and her daughter, Bettih, were arrested in a Walmart parking lot in Maryland after they were found with a stolen U-Haul truck full of dogs. She was tried on animal cruelty charges for subjecting the dogs to “inhumane conditions,” police reports read.
Attallah Shabazz, 63, their eldest daughter, is currently a motivational speaker and activist, like her father, as well as Ilyasah Shabazz, 59, author of the memoir Growing Up X. She was just two years old when her father was assassinated.
“Meditating on the entire Shabazz family tonight and praying for their fortitude in the midst of this fresh sorrow,” said MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid.
Dr. Omar Suleiman, president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, recalled the tragedy of how, “Malikah Shabazz was in the womb of her mother Betty when Malcolm was gunned down in front of his family.”
“She never got to hug him here. I pray he will be waiting to embrace her there,” he said. “May Allah have mercy on them and make it easy for her remaining family in earth.”