“We must tell our own story.”
That’s how Abdul Wahid Muhammad opened the workshop on the History of the Nation of Islam from 1930 to 1975 during a Feb. 26 session at Saviours’ Day 2010. He moderated the session where four pioneers told stories of life and travail during the early days of the Nation of Islam.
Mother Evelyn Muhammad, wife of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, shared her story. “The word of Allah is an awakening sound. I came in 1952 as a teenager in high school. I was born in Boston and loved to sing, I loved all kinds of music. My brother came to me and told me about Islam. A lot of the jazz musicians got involved with Islam and many with the Ahmadiyya Movement and they smoked reefer. I said no brother I didn’t want to get involved with that.”
“My brother kept trying and asked me to meet this brother in prison, Malcolm X. I finally broke down and said that I would go. I was 18. I couldn’t believe that this brother in prison could teach like this. Soon Malcolm was released. We used to go the Mosque No. 7 on the weekends.”
“We were always inviting people to the meetings. Every time you saw us we were inviting people to the meetings. We were young and some were older in their 20s. My brother knew Min. Farrakhan from high school. We went up and down the east coast. I hocked my roller skates to get money to go to D.C. to the temple.
“We would travel from Boston to New York to D.C. and we went everywhere. We were young and had that kind of energy. We had the desire to teach our people the little bit that we knew.
“Allah blessed me. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad invited me to Chicago to be a secretary. Malcolm had told him about us. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad invited us to Chicago. We were nervous.”
The 1960s saw Abdul Wazir, Abdul Rabb and Betty Muhammad come to the Nation from the west coast.
“I’ve been in the Nation some 50 years,” Bro. Wazir Muhammad told the standing room only audience. He spoke of the mosque in Los Angeles being attacked by the police.
“We all got sent to jail. This was a trial. The families were left without their men. The M.G.T. (Muslim women) had to do something to make ends meet. If she’s with you, she’s standing by you. My wife has been with me over hill and dale. You must have an M.G.T. with you. She will be your helpmate,” said Bro. Wazir Muhammad, who served as a Nation of Islam minister and worked for The Final Call newspaper.
Bro. Rabb Muhammad was a beautician in Santa Barbara with White clientele when he read an article by Malcolm X. “My mother told me to close the shop and go hear Min. John Shabazz. We took 14 people with us. We had never heard anything like it before. I wanted to know, ‘How can I become a follower of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad?’ ”
“I started going to the mosque in L.A. I went to hear Bro. Jabril then known as Bro. Bernard. The brothers in the mosque treated me real good when I walked in the door. That’s what we were taught, treat people like you want to be treated.”
In those days some parents put their children out of their homes for accepting Islam. Not so in Sis. Betty’s case. “My mom took me to Mosque No. 26 (Oakland) in 1962. She also brought my brother Wahid with us. He lived right next door and has always been a brother to me.”
“This is the only way of life. Master Fard Muhammad’s mission was to make us saviours to all people. But we needed this teaching the most. It is amazing how we affect people all over the world,” she said.
“I was hired as an executive secretary to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. My job was to help with correspondence. The same questions kept coming up. He told me to duplicate his responses.”
Those letters and responses became a book, “Dear Holy Apostle.”