There are some efforts to celebrate a so-called “Negro History Week,” and some of my people will participate. The planning of that week to teach the slave a knowledge of his past is not complete, sufficient or comprehensive enough to enable my people to learn the true knowledge of themselves. It is important that my people learn the true knowledge of self, as it means their salvation.
We are not Negroes, because God, whose proper name is Allah, has taught me who we are. We are not “colored” people because God has taught me who the colored people are. The American Negro is without a knowledge of self. You are a so-called Negro because you are “not” a Negro. Allah has given to me our proper names, the people from whom we were taken and brought here to the shores of North America and the history of our forefathers. Allah has taught me and today I do not fear to tell you, that you can discard that name “Negro.” We are not “Negroes.” We are not colored! Those are some of the main things which we should remember.
We must become aware of the knowledge of self and the time in which we are living. You must know these things whether you agree that Elijah Muhammad is on time or out of time. If what I say is out of season, it goes for nothing. If I am on time or in season, then all I say will bear fruit.
There is much misunderstanding among us because of our inferior knowledge of self. We have been to schools where they do not teach us the knowledge of self. We have been to the schools of our slave-master children. We have been to their schools and gone as far as they allowed us to go. That was not far enough for us to learn a knowledge of self. The lack of knowledge of self is one of our main handicaps. It blocks us throughout the world. If you were the world and you were a part of the world, you would also turn a man down if he did not know who he actually was. If we, the so-called Negroes, do not know our own selves, how can we be accepted by a people who have a knowledge of self?
Are we representing ourselves as Negroes and “colored” people in the ancient history of Black men? Our search of the ancient history of the Black man of the earth will prove that not once in time were Negroes or “colored” people living in Asia or Africa. How did we come by those names? The names are from the slave-masters. They have called us by their names and the nicknames used among themselves.
It even seems that we like being called by the slave-masters’ name. After nearly a hundred years of freedom, we are still representing ourselves by the names our slave-masters called us! We must learn that the slave-master’s names are not accepted by God or by the righteous people of God.
It is time for us to learn who we really are, and it is time for us to understand ourselves. That true knowledge is here for you today whether you accept it or reject it. God has said that we are members of the original people or Black nation of the earth. Original means first. Historian J. A. Rogers points out in his book that beyond the cotton fields of the South and long before the White man himself was a part of our planet, we were the original people ruling the earth, and according to the Holy Qur’an, we had governments superior to any we are experiencing today. Trace over the earth. Check back 5,000, 10,000 or 20,000 years ago. Look at history. Who were those people? They were our people. Today, we are confronted with proof of who the original people are and who shall live on this earth and call it their own.
(Reprinted from “Message to the Blackman,” 1965.)