As this year’s Black History month begins to come to a close, we remember the legacy of wisdom and righteous of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Born 34 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Elijah Muhammad, following the teachings of Master W.D. Fard Muhammad, went on to lead the Nation of Islam from 1934 until his death. He was a mentor and teacher to great leaders in the Black community such as Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, Muhammad Ali and Allah (formally known as Clarence 13X).
Elijah Muhammad was born around October 7, 1897 in Sandersville, Georgia. The actual date of his birth is unknown due to the lack of record keeping in the rural south during reconstruction. His name at birth was Elijah Poole. He was one of 13 children to a family of sharecroppers. His father, Wali Poole, was a minister.
Elijah Muhammad did not receive much in the department of education and stopped attending school after the third grade. He started his family in 1917 and moved to Macon, Georgia in 1923. On July 4, 1930, the long awaited “Savior of the Black man and woman,” Master W. D. Fard Muhammad arrived in Macon. After this, Elijah Muhammad’s life changed forever.
After hearing his first message from Master Fard Muhammad, Elijah Muhammad was instantly accepted the teachings of Islam. He along with his entire family accepted the religion. He quickly became an instrumental piece of the Nation’s structure. During the next three years, Elijah Muhammad was taught personally by Master Fard Muhammad. His studies were of freedom, justice, and equality. After the completion of his study, Elijah Muhammad went on to lead the Nation of Islam.
On May 8 1942, Elijah Muhammad was arrested for evading the military draft. As a Muslim, Elijah Muhammad did not believe in the war and did not sign up. While in prison he wrote his famous book, Message to a Blackman in America. This book, along with Elijah Muhammad’s many speaking engagements, led to the exponential expansion of the Nation of Islam. Over the next few years key members such as Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan joined the Nation. By the mid 60s, the Nation of Islam’s influence spread out to 60 cities and settlements abroad in Ghana, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad passed on February 25, 1975 at the age of 77 in Chicago, Illinois. His efforts to empower and uplift the Black community in America were not internationally rewarded but they did shape a consciousness that grew to awareness and pride to an oppressed people in this country. His legacy will live on eternally through the knowledge and wisdom that he released into the world.