NYC Will Name Harlem Block After Anti-Semitic Nation of Islam Leader Elijah Muhammad
Neirin Gray Desai, Daily Mail, February 27, 2023
An intersection in Harlem will be named after Elijah Muhammad, the polemical Black separatist who led the Nation of Islam from 1934 until his death in 1975.
Muhammad famously referred to whites as ‘blue-eyed devils’, advocated for a separate nation for black Americans and has been accused of anti-Semitic rhetoric.
On that block in Harlem is Nation of Islam-owned Mosque Temple No. 7, in which Malcolm X famously preached before falling out with Muhammad and where an NYPD officer was killed by unidentified NOI radicals.
However, Muhammad was also hailed by some for his empowerment of black Americans – rallying them to rise up against black oppression and encouraging self-sufficiency.
The proposal to name the intersection at 127th St. and Malcolm X Boulevard ‘The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad Way’ is one of 129 such ‘co-namings’ planned across the city, all of which are included in a single bill that passed 42-0 this month and awaits approval from Mayor Eric Adams.
The bill will see the public sites named after various figures ‘based on requests of Council Members whose district includes the location.’
Although the bill passed unopposed, some council members voiced objections to particular names on the list, including that of Elijah Muhammad.
Nonetheless, Democrat Kristin Richardson Jordan, council member for District 9 in Harlem, defended her choice.
‘It is actually not OK to erase black leaders who are not pleasing to white people,’ she said during the vote. ‘I profoundly vote aye on Elijah Muhammad Way.’
But Democrat council member Robert Holden of Queens said the proposal to honor Elijah Muhammad should be removed from the list.
‘I’m going to oppose Elijah Muhammad. He was a black supremacist. He was a bad guy,’ Holden said. ‘It’s an insult to Malcolm X Boulevard.’
‘He is not worthy of having a street co-naming in the City of New York, and we should not even be considering this,’ Councilman David Carr, a Staten Island Republican, said in a hearing earlier this month.
‘He fails every test we could possibly put forward: the test based on the values and views of today, and the values and views of the times in which he lived and worked,’ Carr said at the Parks and Recreation Committee hearing.
Left-wing group the Southern Poverty Law Center has said Muhammad denounced ‘greedy Jews’ and continues to brand the Nation of Islam a ‘hate group’.
The Anti-Defamation League called the Nation of Islam the largest Black nationalist organization in the US and accused it of maintaining a ‘consistent record of antisemitism and bigotry since its founding in the 1930s’.
In an obituary published in the New York Times at the time of Muhammad’s death, it said of him: ‘Elijah Muhammad did not create the Nation of Islam but he built it on a number of principles. Among them: Islam is the true religion, ‘knowledge. of self’ is vital, ‘doing for self’ is necessary, the black man is supreme and the white man is ‘the devil.”
The Nation of Islam leader was also linked with the assassination of Malcolm X. Although the two considered themselves allies once, they fell apart and Malcolm X famously accused Muhammad of having children with various teenage assistants.
Muhammad denied any involvement in the assassination but said days later that ‘Malcolm X got just what he preached.’