In bookstores across the country, “Memories” is the new book by Sister Claudette Marie Muhammad, Chief of Protocol for the Nation of Islam. She was recently featured as a special guest to Writers Row during Saviours’ Day weekend and recently spoke with Final Call Staff Writer Nisa Islam Muhammad to discuss her reasons for publishing a memoir. Click here to order “Memories”.
Final Call (FC): What made you decide to write “Memories”?
Claudette Muhammad (CM): All honor and praise to God for allowing me to be what I am and to still have my early memories to midlife and on to adulthood.
One day in a meeting with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, he told me that one of the Brothers on the security team had told him that the regional manager at a hotel chain in New York where we had recently stayed, was displeased with me. I knew immediately whom he was talking about because I had words with the manager because of the lack of professionalism from some of his staff in handling our delegation.
I then said to Minister Farrakhan that I was once a vice president of a travel agency and I know the hotel business, so I was familiar with how our delegation should have been treated. The Minister then looked at me and said, “You’ve done so much and you know so many people, I would like for you to come so we can sit and talk.”
I then went home and thought I would write it out or give him a letter of some of what he had asked. Before I knew it, I didn’t stop writing until 8:00 a.m. the next morning, and I had written “Memories.” I gave a copy to Minister Farrakhan and to Brother Minister Akbar Muhammad, the NOI International Representative. They were pleased with what I had written. Bro. Akbar was amazed that I was the first Black woman to perform at half-time for the NFL and AFL as a “Chargette” for the San Diego Chargers. The Minister held my book close to his chest and said to me, “This is more than a book, it needs to be a movie.”
A lot of things in my life were left out of that first writing, so I went back to write more. I gave a copy to Hermene Hartman, publisher of N’Digo newspaper. She said it was excellent reading, but that I should put it in chapter form and write from the first person. I also gave the book to Susan Taylor, Editorial Director for Essence Magazine. She reviewed the book, gave me an invaluable critique and great advice. I continued to write, and then I gave the book back to the Minister to read.
He told me, “I read Memories so many times that I’ve almost lost my memory.” We laughed together about that. To make a long story short, Minister Farrakhan inspired me to write Memories.
FC: What is your best memory in the book?
CM: It’s so hard to say. I have so many things I’ve experienced. My mother was a Methodist and my father was a Baptist. My maternal grandmother was Catholic. At age 12, I converted from Methodist to Catholicism. That was my foundation. When I got older, I lived and worked in Africa for a little over a year and a half.
Another important memory was giving birth to my son Anthony. I endured the pain of childbirth for 36 hours. My mother was on my right and my grandmother was on my left. When I screamed and hollered, they grabbed my ankles and today I can still feel the pressure of their handgrips on my ankles.
They told me that no matter how much pain you go through, always call on God. That stays in my mind. Sometimes it’s as if they are still here with me; that was very significant. It taught me to always hold on to God.
FC: What do you want your readers to take away from “Memories?”
CM: Primarily, I want women who have been molested as a child, or raped as an adult, or had a child out of wedlock to know that if you hold on to God, you can make it. I’ve been molested and raped, but God brought me through.
Many people don’t turn to God when faced with difficulty. Instead, they seek the ways of the world, such as drug abuse, prostitution or alcoholism to erase the pain because of what’s happened in their childhood or past. I want people to see how God has blessed me in all of the different facets of my life, including being an aid to the Honorable Minister Farrakhan.
I couldn’t be as successful as his Chief of Protocol, National Director of Community Outreach, and Congressional Liaison if I had not gone through what I did. Ultimately, for all of us, we should look toward God.
FC: Whom do you want to thank for “Memories”?
CM: I want to give thanks to Almighty God Allah for the people He’s put me in touch with throughout my life. I thank God for allowing me to be a mother, a grandmother and a great grandmother. I can never thank the Honorable Minister Farrakhan enough for inspiring me to write Memories. I also want to thank him for writing the forward.
I want to thank Hermene Hartman and Susan Taylor for their advice, Dr. Maya Angelou, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Dr. Dorothy Height of the National Council of Negro Women, and Dr. Cathy Hughes of Radio One for their kind words in writing the reviews found on the back cover. A special thanks to Dr. Margaret Burroughs, founder of the DuSable Museum, Sis. Lori 2X Taylor, Brothers Harold Muhammad and Fontaine Muhammad for their support, as well as Sisters Teresa Muhammad, Jessica Muhammad and Yakita X for typing the manuscript. Attorney Robert Phillips for his legal advice and Bro. Akbar, who kept encouraging me to add more of my Memories.
FC: Thank you.
[“Memories” is now available through The Final Call. Click here to order.]