Hon Elijah Muhammad
A Short Biography
below is an excerpt of an observation taken from the exhibit on display:
(October 7, 1897 – February 25, 1975) was an African-American religious leader, who led the Nation of Islam (NOI) from 1934 until his death in 1975. He was a mentor to Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, Muhammad Ali, as well as his own son,Warith Deen Mohammed.
During his time as leader of The Nation of Islam, Muhammad had developed the Nation of Islam from a small movement in Detroit to an empire consisting of banks, schools, restaurants and stores across 46 cities in America. The Nation also owned over 15,000 acres of farmland, their own truck- and air- transport systems, as well as a publishing company that printed the country's largest Black newspaper.
By the 1970s, the Nation of Islam owned bakeries, barber shops, coffee shops, grocery stores, laundromats, a printing plant, retail stores, numerous real estate holdings, and a fleet of tractor trailers, plus farmland in Michigan, Alabama, and Georgia. In 1972 the Nation of Islam took controlling interest in a bank, the Guaranty Bank and Trust Co. Nation of Islam-owned schools expanded until, by 1974, the group had established schools in 47 cities throughout the United States. In 1972, Muhammad told followers that the Nation of Islam had a net worth of $75 million.
In the early 1960’s, the popular magazine, Reader’s Digest called him “The Most Powerful Black Man in America.” In 1962, American author and social critique, James Baldwin wrote in his #1 Best Seller, Fire Next Time, “Elijah Muhammad has been able to do what generations of welfare workers and committees and resolutions and reports and housing projects and playgrounds have failed to do:
To heal and redeem drunkards and junkies, to convert people who came out of prison and to keep them out; to make men chaste and women virtuous and to invest both the male and the female with a pride and serenity that hang about them like an unfailing light. He has done all these things, which our Christian church has spectacularly failed to do.” (p. 72).
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