On October 9th, 1897, Elijah Muhammad, originally called Elijah Poole, was born in Sandersville, Georgia. He was one of 13 children born to tenant farmers who had been born into slavery.
At 16 years old, he left his home and traveled through North America for almost ten years. In 1923, at the age of 26, he settled down in Detroit, Michigan. Where he met W.D. Fard, who was also known as Wali Farad and Master Farad Muhammad.
Fard taught religious beliefs similar to “orthodox” Islam with specific emphasis on the Black population and their needs. His teachings encouraged absolute segregation between races as whites were viewed to be the sworn enemies of Blacks and all of humanity. At this time, the Nation of Islam (NOI) called for Black independence in religion, nationhood and economics.
Fard disappeared in the early 1930’s and Elijah Muhammad became his successor and the Supreme Minister of the NOI. Elijah Muhammad and the NOI had an extensive effect on the lives of Black Americans. A prominent follow of Elijah’s was the ex-convict that we now recognize as Malcolm X.
Through Elijah Muhammad’s leadership and teachings, his encouragement of self-defense, self-sufficiency, self-help, and self-love made meaningful waves in the evolution of Black Nationalism. His legacy continues to this day as those who follow in his footsteps spread his teachings.