In the city of Philadelphia, the Nation of Islam’s Regional Student Minister Rodney Muhammad has proven the wide and broad-based appeal of the message of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the ministry of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. His simultaneous leadership of the local mosque of the Nation of Islam and the local chapter of the NAACP is historic.
For many years, the Nation of Islam has been portrayed as a group whose ideas and membership exist in the margins of society.
The Nation of Islam has deliberately been obscured, hidden and prohibited from access to most things considered “mainstream.” The media often speaks “about” the Nation of Islam, but rarely speaks “to” the Nation of Islam. And despite our salvific, redemptive and well- known work within and among Black communities throughout America and the world, the public is made to think that the bold message of Elijah Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan has been rejected by the majority within Black America.
But contrary to this popular notion, the Philly NAACP’s election of Regional Student Minister Muhammad demonstrates just how respected and integral the Nation of Islam’s core message is to the overwhelming majority within Black America.
In history, the NAACP and the NOI have been situated almost at polar opposites of one another. Consider the viewpoint of legendary White supremacist J.B. Stoner. Stoner wrote a letter of appeal to the police chief in New York City, Stephen P. Kennedy on August 6, 1959, asking for a partnership between his KKK and the NYPD. He observed of the two groups the following:
“The NAACP is a bad gang but I assure you that the Muslims are ten times more dangerous. The NAACP is a cream puff compared to Black Islam. The NAACP likes White people so much that its members try to associate with us Whites every day, but the Muslims think they are better than us Whites even though everybody knows that we Whites are superior … . I guess you know that the NAACP is headed by a man who is not a n*gger, but there is a bad n*gger at the head of the Muslims.”
Minister Farrakhan & Muslim-Christian Unity
Brother Muhammad’s ascendancy to the leadership of both groups in Philadelphia powerfully highlights the magnificent and historic approach to re-building the Nation of Islam demonstrated by Minister Farrakhan. In the re-building of the Nation of Islam, Minister Farrakhan established strong ties to the Black church, the place most NAACP members consider as their spiritual home. And Minister Farrakhan has said that “the Nation of Islam has room in it for churches.” The Minister has also been fond of expressing the fact that “a true Muslim is a true Christian; and a true Christian is a true Muslim, if you understand.” Minister Farrakhan remains a beloved leader who is recognized, admired and followed by many in the Black Church. When Minister Farrakhan called for a million men to meet him in Washington, D.C., on October 16, 1995, nearly two million men showed up and 80 percent of them self-identified as Christian.
Minister Muhammad has been publicly attacked for posting a meme in social media that some Jewish organizations consider to be anti-Semitic. And despite a long record of being a strong and committed spiritual leader and activist in the city of Philadelphia, the NAACP national offices made an extraordinary move to dissolve the local chapter in Philadelphia, so that they might re-constitute it without Minister Muhammad as the local head.
NAACP Infamous President Joel Spingarn
This move by the NAACP, to take such drastic action to oust Minister Muhammad because of hurt Jewish feelings, reminds us of this organization’s very controversial history. It reminds us especially of the NAACP’s nefarious White founders who sought to keep the NAACP perpetually under White control.
An excellent history of the early days of the NAACP and Urban League can be found in the doctoral dissertation of Yvonne DeCarlo Newsome, entitled A house divided: Conflict and cooperation in African American-Jewish relations. (Volumes I and II) Newsome noted:
“Measurable racial disagreement over who should lead the organization, what its goals should be, and how it would pursue them were apparent at the founding conference of the NAACP. Significantly, two prominent African American leaders who attended the National Negro Conference, anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett and the radical editor of the Boston Guardian, Monroe Trotter, refused to join the organization because they were “distrustful of white leadership”… In later years, the African American press protested when the NAACP Board chose Joel Spingarn to be president …”.
Moreover, Newsome writes:
“Final decisions about control of finances remained in the hands of the predominantly white Board, and there is evidence that decision-making about long-term goals and agenda also remained in its hands. In addition, NAACP Board members who were authorized to sign checks and disburse money, including the treasurer, were almost always white … . Because of their monopolization of power, whites were able to exert undue influence over determining agenda, programs, strategies, and finances.”
The NAACP, from 1915-1938, had a nefarious Jewish board chairman and president named Joel Spingarn. Spingarn became known for advancing the NAACP’s philosophy of “non-economic liberalism.” Newsome documents how, over and over again, Spingarn and the Whites who dominated the early board of directors at the NAACP, fought against W.E.B. Dubois who wanted “to put segregation to positive use by helping blacks to build a strong economic foundation on which to uplift themselves.”
Not only was Spingarn opposed to the NAACP helping Blacks do as Jews have done in overcoming oppression through using group economics and monetary strength, he also actively opposed other Black leaders, like Marcus Garvey, who championed Black economics. Spingarn’s NAACP participated in a “Garvey Must Go” campaign in its Crisis Magazine.
Spingarn also infamously ran a military intelligence unit. He was given the rank of major in 1918 and was in charge of a group of undercover agents in the army’s Military Intelligence Unit (MID). This unit spied on and opened 100,000 pieces of mail each week in its espionage activities against Black leaders and organizations. Spingarn remained working in this capacity during his tenure as the head of the NAACP. Spingarn’s history as an espionage agent of the U.S. military taints his work in the NAACP and shows how one of the most well-known and popular Black organizations in America was once run by someone whose job it had been to spy on Black people and violate our right to privacy and free speech.
The history of the NAACP as a “Black-faced, White-minded” organization provides insight into its decision to dissolve an entire chapter because of a cartoon posted in social media by chapter president and Nation of Islam Regional Student Minister Muhammad of Philadelphia.
NAACP Has Never Wanted Black Leadership It Didn’t Control
It is a rather startling reality, when one considers how the NAACP has become so synonymous with Black causes, that this Black looking organization has been primarily led by White people, many of whom have been Jews. In fact, it was only with the death of Jewish patent leather manufacturer Kivie Kaplan, who was NAACP president from 1966-1975 that the NAACP was able to have its first Black president; some 64 years after its founding!
The history makes it clear that the Whites and Jews of the NAACP were never going to get used to a Black Muslim leading one of its most important chapters. I close this article by showcasing a brief review some of the powerful criticisms from giants in the Black struggle that exposes the NAACP’s history of being the organizational equivalent of a Black face minstrel show:
Adam Clayton Powell, “There are no Negroes in the American Jewish Congress or in the national organizations of Italians—and show me a Black Irishman if you will. The NAACP has white people in high positions. We should boycott it.”
Malcolm X, “The Jew is always anxious to advise the Black man. But they never advise him how to solve his problem the way the Jews solved their problem. The Jew never went sitting-in and crawling-in and sliding-in and freedom-riding, like he teaches and helps Negroes to do. The Jews stood up, and stood together, and they used their ultimate power, the economic weapon. That’s exactly what the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is trying to teach black men to do. … But the Jew that’s advising the Negro joins the NAACP, CORE, the Urban League, and others. With money donations, the Jew gains control, then he sends the Black man doing all this wading-in, boring-in, even burying-in—everything but buying-in. Never shows him how to set up factories and hotels. Never advises him how to own what he wants.”
Jackie Robinson, “We (the NAACP) are not meeting the needs of the masses. We don’t know the people, the people don’t know us. I have been asked by many people to form another organization that would be closer to the masses. I’m all for a new organization if we can do it without interfering with what the NAACP is doing.”
Demetric Muhammad, a Nation of Islam student minister, is based in Memphis and a member of the NOI Research Group. Read more from him at www.researchminister.com.