Yusuf Bey

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Yusuf Bey
Born Joseph Stephens
December 21, 1935
Greenville, Texas
Died June 9, 2003(2003-06-09) (aged 68)
Oakland, California
Cause of death
Cancer
Nationality American
Occupation Activist and leader
Known for Your Black Muslim Bakery
Title Bey

Yusuf Bey (December 21, 1935 – September 30, 2003), born Joseph Stephens, was a Black Muslim activist and leader.

After discovering the teachings of Elijah Muhammed in the 1960s, he adopted the name Yusuf Bey and moved to Oakland, California, and then Santa Barbara, California, where in 1968 he opened a bakery. The bakery moved to Oakland by 1971. Renamed Your Black Muslim Bakery, it became the center of a local Black nationalist community. Held out at the time as a model of African American economic self-sufficiency, the business fell apart after Bey's death and a series of murders linked to criminal activities.

Biography[edit]

Bey was born and raised in Greenville, Texas. As a student in the early 1950s he moved with his family to Oakland, California, where he attended Oakland Technical High School, and then enlisted for four years in the U.S. Air Force. In his first business venture he obtained a cosmetology degree and ran beauty salons in neighboring Berkeley and then in the southern city of Santa Barbara before going into the bakery business instead.[1] Having converted to Islam in 1964, Bey founded the Islamic bakery in Santa Barbara in 1968. The group was not affiliated with Louis Farrakhan's movement, the Nation of Islam, though early connections and similarities were evident.[2] Nation of Islam minister Keith Muhammad, of East Oakland's Muhammad Mosque #26, stated that the two organizations are distinct and separate.[1]

The baked goods Bey sold were, in accordance with strict Muslim diets, free of refined sugar, fats, and preservatives. He named the business Your Black Muslim Bakery on the personal recommendation of his spiritual guide, the Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. In 1971, Bey moved the bakery to Oakland.[1]

Black Muslim era[edit]

Although the bakery was not affiliated with the Nation of Islam, Yusuf Bey's activism originated with that group. After he came to Oakland in the early 1970s, Bey became a member of the 200-member Nation of Islam Mosque No. 26 in San Francisco, which had a strict fundamentalist reputation of strictly adhering to the edicts from the Nation's Chicago headquarters. At that time Bey went by the name Capt. Joseph X.[3]

Together with Bey's brother, Minister Billy X, the two men received permission to establish a new congregation, Mosque No. 26B, in Oakland. Around that time the two Bey brothers associated with a single young woman named Capt. Felicia X, who was the head of a training program for women in the San Francisco mosque. Felicia X then defected to the brothers' new Mosque No. 26B. Minister Henry Majied, the leader of Mosque No. 26, then retaliated with charges against Felicia X, sparking a bitter rivalry between the two mosques.[3]

Part of the rivalry stemmed from competition over selling of Muhammad Speaks newspapers on the streets. Bey's group outsold the San Francisco group, but did it partly by selling to whites, violating the Nation's written policy to not sell where whites might buy it. Minister Henry retaliated by ordering his members to confiscate any copies of the newspaper if they saw any of Bey's group selling them downtown to whites. As a result, Elijah Muhammad expelled Minister Henry, for ordering Muslims to "attack" other Muslims.[3]

After 1972, the Beys and the bakery split off from Mosque No. 26B, and from the Nation of Islam. Bey's brother, Minister Billy, returned to the Nation of Islam before the Million Man March in 1995. Currently, he remains active with the movement where he lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.[3]

Soul Beat era[edit]

By the mid-1980s Bey appeared regularly on a local Oakland Soul Beat cable television lecture program,[2] True Solutions, during which Bey broadcast his hour-long sermons every week on station KSBT. On the program Bey also promoted the bakery, and frequently expounded on the need for the economic self-reliance and "knowledge of self" of African-Americans, whom he lectured the audience as being the "Original Man", a racially charged idea deriving from Nation of Islam doctrine. Bey repeated the NoI doctrine of Yakub, which proposed that the non-black races were the result of a 6,000-year-old genetic experiment, in a mythic black utopia on the Arabian peninsula, which "peopled the world with "blue-eyed devils." Bey even went as far in his sermons as to proclaim repeatedly that the black man "is God," essentially avatars of Allah. The white man, Bey proclaimed, "is the Devil." [1]

Akbar Bey[edit]

In 1994, Yusuf's son Akbar Bey was shot four times and killed by a local drug dealer associate outside the old Omni nightclub near the corner of Shattuck Avenue and 50th Street.[2] Court records showed the pathologist's conclusion that Akbar Bey was high on heroin or morphine at the time of his death. An Oakland police lieutenant described Akbar Bey as "a little street thug" once seen well-armed and wearing a bullet-proof vest in a blatant show of force to the police. Three months before his killing, Akbar Bey had been charged with felony counts of carrying a concealed weapon and evading the police, resulting in a car chase and crash at 44th Street and Market Street.[1]

Nedir and Abaz Bey[edit]

On March 4, 1994, followers and self-proclaimed "adopted" sons of Bey (they were never legally adopted), Nedir Bey and Abaz Bey were involved in the torture and beating of a Nigerian home-seller in an apartment on the 500 block of 24th Street in Oakland, involving a real estate deal. The complex served as a compound for the Bey organization.[1] The two Beys and two other men were charged with felony counts of assault, robbery, and false imprisonment. A year later, following a plea deal, Nedir Bey served six months of home detention, and Abaz Bey got eight months home detention.[1]

Primarily through lobbying and orchestrating by Nedir, who was the public face of the Bey organization, Yusuf Bey cultivated the patronage of Oakland's civic, political, and religious leaders. In 1994 he ran unsuccessfully for mayor against then-incumbent Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris, gaining 5% of the vote.[2]

Felony charges and warrant[edit]

Yusuf Bey's detractors — notably East Bay Express journalist Chris Thompson — accused Bey of cultism, corruption, and Antisemitism. Many accusations of physical and sexual abuse, including rape and incest, sustained by DNA evidence, were made against Bey, culminating in felony charges that were pending at the time of his death.[4]

On September 19, 2002, Bey turned himself in when a warrant was issued for his arrest, charged with 27 counts in the alleged rapes of four girls under the age of 14. The cases were pending trial into the following year.[2] The oldest allegation was that beginning twenty years earlier, he had serially raped through coercion and beatings a preteen girl who, as a ten-year-old, came under foster care of Bey and his wife Nora Bey. In her request for a temporary restraining order one month prior to the arrest, the woman claimed that Bey's wife also knew of the serial rapes, but did nothing. The girl gave birth to a child at age 13 in 1982. Oakland's district attorney's office claimed to have conclusive DNA evidence identifying Bey as the father.[1]

Death[edit]

On September 30, 2003, before trial began on the first case, Bey died from cancer at age 67 in Oakland, California.[2][5]

Yusuf Bey IV[edit]

A series of civil claims, criminal investigations, and investigative reports in 2006 and 2007 uncovered claims of murder, widespread housing and welfare fraud, indentured servitude, and physical and sexual abuse, all linked to Bey's son, Yusuf Bey IV.[6][7] As of 2007 the alleged victims are still pursuing legal action. Bey IV was convicted of the murder of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey in 2011.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Chris Thompson (November 13, 2002), The Sinister Side of Yusuf Bey's Empire, East Bay Express 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Angela Hill and Josh Richman (2007-08-04). "Esteemed enterprise spirals out of control". Oakland Tribune. 
  3. ^ a b c d This is the Mosque that trained the "Death Angels"; the group whose membership required the killing of at least 9 white "devils" to have feathers placed alongside a portrait of the Death Angel. Nearly 100 unsolved murders of white people in the San Francisco area can be attributed to this group. See "Zebra" Killings. Askia Muhammad, WPFW-FM news director (2007-08-16). "Your Black Muslim Bakery's recipe for mayhem". Oakland Tribune. 
  4. ^ May, Meredith (November 29, 2005). "Black Muslim Bakery has had a long and checkered history". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  5. ^ News Note by Oakland Tribune, National Public Radio (NPR)
  6. ^ Matthai Kuruvila (December 23, 2007). "The Assassination of Chauncey Bailey:Bakery leader defiant in sermons after arrest; Yusuf Bey (Bey's son) asserted: 'You do me wrong, I'm going to fix you up. I'll send some fearless soldiers out here.'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-12-24. 
  7. ^ Jaxon Van Derbeken (December 24, 2007). "The Assassination of Chauncey Bailey:Convert's Unsolved Killing; 25 years later, family still suspects Ronald Allen was slain by fellow followers of Your Black Muslim Bakery - and now, police are taking another look". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-12-24. 
  8. ^ Peele, thomas. http://www.chaunceybaileyproject.org/2011/06/09/former-your-black-muslim-bakery-leader-yusuf-bey-iv-guilty-for-murdering-chauncey-bailey/. Retrieved 9 June 2011.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]