10 Things To Know About Clarence 13X, Founder Of The Five Percenters

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Written by Ann Brown
five percenters

I remember when I first started hearing about The Five Percenters. It was the late ‘70s in Queens. A girl in my class at a Catholic grammar school was trying to school the nun on her new Five Percenter name. I also recall boys getting on the local public bus greeting each other with “What’s the mathematics for today, God?” And neighborhood boys on the block started talking about how many Earths they had. Still, I didn’t know much about the Five Percent Nation, even as rappers started to rhyme about their own beliefs as members of the group.

So here are 10 things you should know about the Five Percenters.

Out Of The Nation Of Islam

The 5 Percenter Nation of Gods and Earths was founded by former Nation of Islam member Clarence 13X back in 1964. There have been different reports as to why Clarence 13X left the NOI, during which time he worshipped at the same Temple Number Seven where Malcolm X preached. Some say Clarence 13X left because he was caught gambling. Other say he did not agree with the NOI’s ban on gambling, drugs, and alcohol.

Breaking It Down

Under the laws of the Five Percenters, mankind is divided into categories. “10 percent of the world knows the truth about life and they keep 85 percent of people in ignorance, so it’s up to the remaining Five Percenters to enlighten others. Clarence 13X believed that Black men were God and could tap into their inner godliness with intense meditation as well as acquiring knowledge through systems like ‘Supreme Mathematics’ and ‘Supreme Alphabet,’ which attach a deeper meaning to the English letter and number system in order to bring enlightenment,” Bustle reported.

Sum Total

The Five Percenters believe there is a divine order of the world. “According to the Five Percenters it all started like this: 6,600 years ago, a ‘bigheaded scientist’ named Yakub wickedly created the white race through selective breeding on the Greek island of Patmos, which is now a lovely place to vacation. Unleashing this plague upon humanity, Yakub initiated the decline and eventual enslavement of the Original Man. Up until this point, everything is in agreement with the instructions of Fard Mohammed, the sketchily known teacher of Elijah Mohammed, the founder and prophet of the Nation of Islam,” The Daily Beast reported.

Gods And Earths

The Five Percenters, or the Nation of Gods and Earths, believes that Black people are the original people of Earth, so they are the fathers (“Gods”) and mothers (“Earths”) of civilization.

Word Is Bond

Clarence 13X left the Nation Of Islam in 1964, “and in the five years before he was murdered in a Harlem gambling den called ‘The Hole’, he set the ground for every time you hear ‘word is bond’ on a rap track, part of the Five Percenters’ specialized vocabulary,” The Daily Beast reported.

Man Of A Different Name

Clarence Edward Smith was born February 22, 1928, in Danville, Virginia. In 1952, Smith was inducted into the United States Army. He served in the Korean War and Japan and was awarded honors and medals, including the Bronze Service Star, according to declassified FBI records.. In 1960 he was honorably discharged from the military.

From Prison To The Halls Of Hip Hop

The Five Percenter philosophy has been adopted by many incarcerated men as well as countless rappers. The documentary “Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men” explored how the Five Percent Nation influenced the Wu Tang Clan and their peers.

In the doc, RZA explained that  the Five Percent Nation gave Black men and women a “sense of self-worth, hope, pride, and unity in a segregated and overtly racist city where most Black people lived in poverty.”

“Being a part of the Five Percent at that time, the mathematics and the knowledge itself…brothers was very unified,” said RZA. “We all can say that we was totally converted into that, totally immersed into it.” 

“The Five Percenters influence was widespread in ‘80s and ‘90s hip-hop culture – which isn’t surprising considering that the genre was dominated by young Black rappers who were establishing their sense of identity and self-worth. Legendary rappers like Rakim, Busta Rhymes, Public Enemy, Mos Def, Nas, Jay-Z, Jay Electronica, and Brand Nubians often used the nation’s teaching in their rhymes and even donned the Five Percent Nation’s 7 and a crescent symbol on clothing,” Bustle reported.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 60: Jamarlin Martin “Jamarlin goes solo and talks about Facebook’s ban on Minister Louis Farrakhan and whether or not Barack Obama’s pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was always right. “

Not The Nation

Although the Five Percenters do follow some of the tenets of the Nation of Islam, the two groups are very different. “The Nation of Gods and Earths differs with the Nation Of Islam on several counts. Polygamy is acceptable, especially because it is only the men who are Gods. Women are Earths, which is a lesser form of deity,” The Daily Beast reported. 

Black Power And Empowerment

“According to New York Amsterdam News, Clarence 13X changed his name to Allah the Father and spread his beliefs to disadvantaged Black youth in Harlem during a time of intense racial attacks. His message of Black empowerment and godliness resonated with people long after his murder in 1969,” Bustle reported.

The group urged members to take care of themselves mentally and physically and to dedicate their lives to activism.

Tapped Into A Need

Clarence 13X “delivered this information to the streets when Harlem was experiencing tremendous police brutality and in need of spiritual direction. Clarence 13X became known as ‘The Father,’ and those in the streets, those who were deaf, dumb and blind, obtained knowledge of self,” The Final Call reported.