Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, dies.
1975 (Feb 25)
Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Black Muslims, also known as the Nation of Islam (NOI), died in Chicago at age seventy-seven. Muhammad was born Elijah Poole near Sandersville, Georgia, in 1897. He moved to Detroit in the 1930s and met W. D. Fard, founder of the Temple of Islam (Black Muslims). Muhammad himself erected a temple in Detroit, then, in 1934, moved to Chicago. Subsequently, seventy-nine temples were erected in seventy cities. Jesse Jackson eulogized Muhammad as “the single most powerful Black man in this country. ..His leadership extended far beyond his membership. He was the father of Black self-consciousness during our ‘colored' and Negro days.” Muhammad was succeeded by his son, Wallace D. Muhammad. During the height of the civil rights movement, Muhammad and his followers provoked the ire of white and Black leadership alike for their preaching of racial separatism, racial pride, and self-defense. The increasing popularity of those teachings among Blacks, however, was demonstrated in the scope of philosophies represented in the eulogies for Muhammad. Civil rights leaders, including Jackson and Tyrone Brooks of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), joined Julian Bond of Georgia and traditional Black Baptist ministers in extolling the virtues of the Black Muslim patriarch.