Khalid Abdul Muhammad

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Khalid Abdul Muhammad (born Harold Moore Jr.; January 12, 1948 – February 17, 2001) was an Black activist who came to prominence as the National Assistant to Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam (NOI). After a racially inflammatory 1993 speech at Kean College Muhammad was condemned and removed from his position in the Nation of Islam by Louis Farrakhan. He was also censured by both Houses of the United States Congress.[1]

After being removed from the Nation of Islam he served as the National Chairman of the New Black Panther Party until his death in 2001. Despite the controversy that followed him, his strong denunciations of white power gained him the support of some in the black community.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Harold Moore Jr. was raised by his aunt, Carrie Moore Vann, in Houston, Texas, where he attended Bruce Elementary School, E.O. Smith Junior High School, and all-Black Phyllis Wheatley High School. He was also an Eagle Scout.[citation needed] After graduating high school, Moore went to Dillard University in Louisiana, where he was known as Harold Vann, to pursue a degree in theological studies, but he did not graduate. At this time, he ministered at Sloan Memorial Methodist Church. In 1967, he was initiated into Omega Psi Phi fraternity (Theta Sigma chapter). Later, Moore transferred to Pepperdine University and earned his Bachelor's degree.

Nation of Islam[edit]

In 1970, while attending Dillard, Moore joined the Nation of Islam,[2] which was then under the leadership of Elijah Muhammad. He changed his name to Harold Smith, became Minister Louis Farrakhan's protégé, and was active as a recruiter within the organization. In 1978, Smith was appointed Western Regional Minister of the Nation of Islam and leader of Mosque #27. In 1983, Minister Farrakhan named him Khalid after the Islamic general Khalid ibn al-Walid, a follower of the prophet Muhammad, calling him the Sword of Allah.

By 1984, Muhammad had become one of Louis Farrakhan's most trusted advisors in the Nation of Islam. He traveled to Libya on a fund-raising trip, where he became well acquainted with that country's leader, Muammar al-Gaddafi. Muhammad's dedication to Farrakhan and to the message of the NOI eventually secured him the title of national spokesman and he was named one of Louis Farrakhan's friends in 1981. He served at Nation of Islam mosques in New York and Atlanta throughout the 1980s. A federal court convicted him in 1987 of mortgage fraud and sentenced him to nine months in prison.[3] After his prison term he returned to the Nation, becoming Farrakhan's national advisor in 1991.

1993 speech[edit]

Muhammad's new position involved public speaking engagements, where he became known for his inflammatory anti-white, anti-semitic, and anti-homosexual speeches along with calls for black self-empowerment and black separation. Muhammad's condemnation of whites and Jews extended to conservative Blacks, whom he criticized for what he perceived as their self-subjugation.

In 1993 he gave a speech at Kean College in Union Township, New Jersey, in which Muhammad referred to Jews as bloodsuckers; labeled the Pope a "no-good cracker"; and advocated the murder of any and all white South Africans who would not leave the nation subsequent to a warning period of 24 hours. He used the Book of John in the Bible as an excuse to defend his hatred of "so-called White Jews", saying that they crucified Jesus because he revealed them to be liars, and of "their father, the Devil". The United States Senate voted 97–0 to censure Muhammad, and the United States House of Representatives in a special session passed a House Resolution. Farrakhan responded by publicly condemning Muhammad's speech.

Aftermath[edit]

Muhammad was silenced as a minister and left the NOI soon afterward. In 1994, Muhammad appeared on The Phil Donahue Show. He participated in heated arguments with Jewish audience members amid an explanation of his public statements.

Muhammad was shot by James Bess, a former NOI member, after he spoke at the University of California at Riverside on May 29, 1994. He survived the shooting. Many believed the shooting was a part of a conspiracy against Muhammad.[4]

New Black Panther Party[edit]

After being stripped of his position as NOI spokesman, Muhammad became the national chairman of the New Black Panther Party. On May 21, 1997, he delivered a heated speech at San Francisco State University in which he criticized Jews, whites, Catholics and homosexuals.

In 1998, Muhammad organized the "Million Youth March" in New York City which attracted an estimated 6,000 participants. The march was controversial from its inception as New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani denied the organizers a permit, calling it a hate march. A court ruled that the event could go on but scaled back its duration and size. At the conclusion of the rally, just as Muhammad appeared on the stage to speak, the demonstration was interrupted by a low-flying police helicopter that acted as a signal for more than 3,000 police in riot gear, including some mounted on horseback, to come in and disperse the crowd. In response, Muhammad exhorted the rally participants to attack the oncoming police, to beat them with rails, and to shoot them with their own guns. Dozens were arrested, and 30 officers and five civilians were injured.[5][6] Mayor Giuliani said that the march turned out to be precisely what he predicted, “filled with hatred, horrible, awful, vicious, anti-Semitic and other anti-white rhetoric, as well as exhortations to kill people, murder people...the speeches given today should not occur [at] any place.”[5] In subsequent activism, Muhammad convened a second march in 1999.

In 2000, Muhammad's beliefs were introduced to a completely new demographic when it was revealed that one of the contestants on the American version of the Dutch television show Big Brother, William Collins (Hiram Ashantee), was a follower of his. He also appeared in an episode of Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends.

In 2001, Muhammad died suddenly of a brain aneurysm in Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of 53.

Musical influence[edit]

As a prominent Afrocentrist and speaker on African history, Muhammad attracted interest from several hip-hop artists, who sampled him in their songs. Public Enemy quoted him in the introduction of its 1988 track "Night of the Living Baseheads," from the album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back:

Have you forgotten that once we were brought here, we were robbed of our name, robbed of our language. We lost our religion, our culture, our god...and many of us, by the way we act, we even lost our minds.

Rage Against the Machine later paraphrased this quote in the lyrics of "Freedom" (Rage Against the Machine, 1992) with the line, "Brotha, did you forget your name?"

He also appeared on Ice Cube's albums Death Certificate (1991) and Lethal Injection (1993) as a guest rapper. On the former album, Muhammad appeared in the tracks "Death" and "The Birth". On the latter, he appeared in the song "Cave Bitch," a song ridiculing white women. On MC Ren's 1996 album The Villain in Black Muhammad appeared in the track "Muhammad Speaks," where he spoke about the history of the rights of African-Americans.

Musical references to Muhammad since his death include a quote of his "Kill the White Man" speech on The Used's 2009 album Artwork, a sample of his interview with Louis Theroux in the Chase & Status song "Hocus Pocus", and excerpts from a recording of one of his speeches concerning Jesus in the D'Angelo song "1000 Deaths" on the 2014 album Black Messiah.

Personal life[edit]

Muhammad had five children, including Farrah Gray, who grew up in Chicago's South Side without their father present. Although Gray saw his father only during occasional visits, he credits Muhammad for inspiring him with confidence. Gray rose from poverty to become a successful business entrepreneur, but did not join his father's political activities.[7][8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Blair, Jayson (February 18, 2001). "K.A. Muhammad, 53, Dies; Ex-Official of Nation of Islam". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Chart: Nation of Islam and Traditional Islam". Beliefnet. Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  3. ^ Smith, Vern E.; Sarah Van Boven (September 14, 1998). "The Itinerant Incendiary". Newsweek. Retrieved July 25, 2009. [dead link]
  4. ^ Cokely, Steve; Muhammad, Khalid. Shooting of Khalid Muhammad, Tupac & Biggie 6/6 (YouTube). Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Million Youth March Ends in Clash at the Wayback Machine (archived April 29, 2002)
  6. ^ village voice > news > The Hunt for Khallid Abdul Muhammad by Peter Noel
  7. ^ Gray, Farrah (2012-11-11) Press release
  8. ^ Gray, Farrah (2004) Reallionaire

External links[edit]