Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups

By Stephen E. Atkins | Go to book overview

F

Farrakhan, Louis (1933-)

Louis Farrakhan, the charismatic leader of the militant Black Muslim movement of the Nation of Islam, was born on May 11, 1933, in New York City. His birth name was Louis Eugene Walcott. His mother, who was from Saint Kitts in the Caribbean, worked as a maid to raise her two sons. While Farrakhan was still an infant, his mother moved her family to Boston. Farrakhan excelled in academics, track, and music at Boston Latin High School. His musical talent showed on the violin and in voice. After high school, Farrakhan enrolled at the Winston-Salem Teachers College in North Carolina, but after two years he left school to pursue a music career as a calypso singer. His stage nickname was the “Charmer.” His singing career was stagnating when he came into contact with Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam.

Malcolm X, the head of Boston Temple no. 11 of the Nation of Islam, recognized the abilities of Farrakhan. After his recruitment into the Nation of Islam and several years of grooming, Farrakhan replaced Malcolm X as head of the Boston temple when Malcolm moved to Harlem Temple no. 7. Following Black Muslim tradition, Farrakhan assumed the name of Louis X. Farrakhan showed his faith in Elijah Muhammad and supported him when Malcolm X broke with the Nation of Islam in 1964 over sexual scandals in the movement. Farrakhan's attacks on Malcolm X provided an atmosphere that led to Malcolm's assassination on February 21, 1965, by Nation of Islam members. Malcolm's family blamed Farrakhan for his death at the time and they still do. Elijah Muhammad rewarded Farrakhan for his loyalty by appointing him head minister of Harlem Temple no. 7 in May 1965. In 1968 Muhammad appointed Farrakhan as his radio spokesperson. Despite these favors, Elijah Muhammad always kept Farrakhan under tight control, despite the fact that two of Elijah Muhammad's family members married two of Farrakhan's daughters.

After the death of Elijah Muhammad in 1975, Farrakhan found himself faced with difficult choices. He flirted briefly with the idea of challenging for the leadership of the Nation of Islam. After discussions with selected members on his staff, he decided not to contest Muhammad's son, Wallace Deen Muhammad, for the top post. Wallace Deen Muhammad, nevertheless, distrusted Farrakhan and had him transferred to the Nation of Islam's Chicago headquarters. Over the next several years, Farrakhan found himself in direct opposition to Wallace Deen Muhammad's reorientation of the Nation of Islam toward orthodox Sunni Islam. In the fall of 1977, Farrakhan finally broke openly

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Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Chronology of Events vii
  • Introduction xxi
  • A 1
  • B 26
  • C 57
  • D 80
  • E 89
  • F 96
  • G 110
  • H 123
  • I 137
  • J 142
  • K 149
  • L 166
  • M 184
  • N 215
  • O 230
  • P 238
  • Q 252
  • R 253
  • S 267
  • T 291
  • U 301
  • V 304
  • W 306
  • Y 326
  • Z 328
  • Selected Bibliography 331
  • Index 339
  • About the Author 375
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