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LOUIS FARRAKHAN

Minister (1933-)

The Nation of Islam under the leadership of the Minister Louis Farrakhan's help in the development of Islam in America.  Founded in 1930 by Master Fard Muhammad and led to prominence from 1934 to 1975 by Elijah Muhammad, the Nation of Islam continues to positively impact the quality of life in America.  Minister Louis Farrakhan, born Louis Eugene Walcott on May 11, 1933, in Roxbury, Massachusetts was reared in a highly disciplined and spiritual household.  Raised by his mother, a native of St. Kitts, Louis and his brother Alvin learned early the value of work, responsibility and intellectual development.  Having a strong sensitivity to the plight of Black people, his mother engaged her sons in conversations about the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality.  She also exposed them to progressive material such s the "Crisis" Magazine published by the NAACP.  Recognizing her son's artistic talent, young Louis was given a violin before his sixth birthday and began years of formal training financed by his mother's hard work as both seamstress and housekeeper. 

By age 13, he had played with the Boston College Orchestra and the Boston Civic Symphony.  The talent of young Louis was given national exposure at age 14, when he won the "Ted Mack Amateur Hour"  He was also one of the first Blacks to appear on the popular show.  Graduating from high school at age 16, he earned an athletic scholarship for his prowess as a track sprinter and attended Winston-Salem Teacher's College in North Carolina, excelling in the study of English.  During his senior year in September 1953, he married his childhood sweetheart.  Shortly thereafter, he left college to begin a family, making a living by using his talent as a performing artist.  Popularly known as " The Charmer," he achieved fame in Boston as a vocalist, calypso singer, dancer, and violinist.  However, February 1955 marked a turning point in the life of Louis Walcott.  While headlining a show in Chicago entitled "Calypso Follies," the young virtuoso received rave reviews.   During this engagement, one of his friends from Boston invited him to attend the Nation of Islam's Saviors Day Convention, to be held at the newly purchased Muhammad's Temple No. 2.  Minister Malcolm X was informed that the popular musician would attend the convention. 

While listening to Elijah Muhammad from his balcony seat, Louis thought to himself, "This man can't speak," referring to Mr. Muhammad's grammar.  As these thoughts crossed the future leader's mind, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad looked up in the balcony and said, "Don't pay no attention to how I say it, Pay attention to what I say, then take it and put it into that fine language that you know," Most of the musicians left Temple No. 7, but Louis X, later renamed Louis Farrakhan, chose to dedicate his life to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad.  After moving to Boston at the request of Malcolm X, Louis X proved himself a capable, disciplined and well-mannered soldier and eventually rose to the rank of Minister.  He worked faithfully from 1956, as the Minister of Muhammad Temple No. 11 in Boston, Massachusetts, building it to become one of the strongest Temples in the Nation.  In May of 1965, three months after the death of Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad appointed Minister Farrakhan to Temple No. 7 in New York City.  

When he arrived in New York the atmosphere was very hostile because of allegations of Muslim involvement in the assassination of Malcolm X, Minister Farrakhan worked night and day in the Harlem community and around New York restoring respect for the Nation.  The departure of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1975 and the assumption of leadership by Wallace D. Muhammad (now known as Imam Warith Deen Mohammed) brought drastic changes to the Nation.  After approximately three years of wrestling with the changes to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, Minister Farrakhan, after a reappraisal of the condition of Black people and the program of Elijah Muhammad, decided to return to the old teachings of The Nation of Islam to programs with a proven ability to uplift and reform Blacks.

Revised: July 18, 2013.