HOW THEY CAME UP:The Nation of Islam was founded in 1930 in Detroit by W.D. Fard. Elijah Muhammad took over the leadership in 1934 after Fard’s unexplained disappearance. When Malcom X joined the Nation, his oratorical and organizational skills enabled it to greatly expand in popularity and reach.
Unfortunately, the government successfully conspired to create a rift between Muhammad and Malcom, and Malcom X left but remained the most studied militant Black political leader ever. After Muhammad’s death in 1975, the Nation split again, and Farrakhan assumed leadership.
HOW THEY FLIPPED THE SCRIPT: The Nation preached that the Black man is the original man. It considered the white man the devil whose number will soon be up. Then the Black man will be saved when he has separated completely from whites. Millions of Blacks embraced the Nation’s leaders and became leaders in their community over the decades.
Malcom X took Elijah Muhammad’s teachings, another level by emphasizing our right to self-defense “by any means necessary” and the importance of reading and education “to beat the white man at his own game.” He became hip-hop’s patron saint. Farrakhan helped the Nation of Islam continue to inspire the hip-hop nation by emphasizing the importance of keeping Black families strong. In 1995, Farrakhan stunned the world when he brought over a million Black men to the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., as a statement of brotherhood.
WHY THEY DID IT: “Our population runs into billions, and the earth belongs to us. We are the original owners of the earth and will take it and rule it again. This is the time.” –Elijah Muhammad