3 Things We Loved About ‘Betty & Coretta’
Phillipe Bosse/ Lifetime

The saying “behind every great man is a great woman” couldn’t ring truer than when we’re talking about the wives of civil rights icons Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Following their husbands’ tragic assassinations, Coretta Scott King and Dr. Betty Shabazz were left to not only carry on their legacies, but also raise their young children (King had four, Shabazz had six) during the height of racial tensions in America. Their story of friendship and endurance was highlighted in Lifetime’s Betty & Coretta, starring Angela Bassett and Mary J. Blige. Here are our three favorite takeaways from the film:

1. Ruby Dee as narrator and historical witness: Brilliant
Let’s be honest, we could listen to Ruby Dee read the dictionary for hours upon hours. So to have her providing first-hand accounts of Martin, Malcolm, Betty and Coretta’s lives gave the film a double dose of authenticity. The 90-year-old actress and her late husband Ossie Davis’ close friendships with both families allowed her to share the kind of tidbits few know about, like the time she introduced Nelson Mandela and his ex-wife Winnie Mandela to Shabazz in the early 90s.

2. We found out more about Betty and Coretta’s little-known friendship
Few of us knew of the decades-long friendship between King and Shabazz. Whereas their husbands were characterized as polar opposites, in Betty & Coretta, we see that their wives were anything but. Both women were highly driven, independent, and determined not to allow tragedy to dictate their lives. Both made tremendous personal sacrifices in order to not only carry on their husband’s legacies, but also for the fight for social equality in America. Through the years they, together with slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers’ wife Myrlie Evers, became each other’s confidantes and support system. Theirs is an inspirational story of sisterhood and strength in the face of adversity.  

3. Betty and Coretta are humanized
So often, when dealing with iconic figures of King and Shabazz’s caliber, we rarely find out more about their personalities away from the spotlight. In the film, for example, we find out that Dr. Shabazz loved music (she even hosted a radio show in New York City), and had a wicked sense of humor. After the deaths of their husbands, both women went on to make tremendous strides in their personal lives. Shabazz went on to earn a doctorate in higher education, while King evolved into a passionate advocate for social justice, whether she was opposing the Iraq War or speaking up for gay rights.

What did you love about Betty & Coretta?

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