In a resurfaced interview, the granddaughter of the late Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad speaks about the legacy of her grandfather and the accomplishments of his economic program. The interview is from 2016 but has recently been posted on Twitter by user Ma’rifatullah (Knowledge in Allah).
Amirah Muhammad, who was born in 1965, was interviewed by the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), which is a Smithsonian Institution museum located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The interview took place on July 20, 2016.
The museum was collecting the oral history of historic Black leaders from relatives and associates. Amirah Muhammad was interviewed as part of the NMAAHC Donor Oral History Collection.
Amirah Muhammad donated a platinum pendant that was commissioned by Elijah Muhammad for Clara Muhammad to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
In the oral history, Amirah Muhammad, granddaughter of Elijah Muhammad and Clara Muhammad, discussed the dynamics of growing up in the Nation of Islam, including memories of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali.
She spoke of her grandfather’s economic program and how he bought “over a million acres in places like Georgia and Alabama for agriculture. They had cattle….their own fruits and vegetables, and of course, they had their bakery.”
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She went on to explain her grandfather’s economic program.
“The reason for the economic piece was so that you had work. It taught entrepreneurship, it taught you how to be your own boss, it showed you how to turn the dollar around in the Black community because our dollar went outside our community after segregation,” she said. “Our money wasn’t turning over in our community. He established these businesses so money would circulate in our community. He also owned real estate; the Nation of Islam owned real estate, large courtyard apartment buildings and houses.”
Elijah Muhammad led the Nation of Islam from 1934 until his death in 1975, mentoring Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, Muhammad Ali, and his own son, Warith Deen Mohammed.
Muhammad often spoke to his followers of self-sufficiency and nation-building.
In 1964, the Nation of Islam introduced a Three-Year Economic Plan or National Savings Plan specifically to help Black people achieve financial independence. Formulated by longtime NOI leader, Elijah Muhammad, the plan called for opening a Nation of Islam bank.
Under this plan, Muhammad urged Black people to sacrifice for three years, purchasing no more than what they needed in line with their incomes, to save money, Black Past reported.
By the 1970s, the Nation of Islam had owned its own bakeries, barbershops, coffee shops, grocery stores, laundromats, nightclubs, a printing plant and retail stores. It also owned numerous real estate holdings and a fleet of tractor-trailers as well as farmland in Michigan, Alabama, and Georgia.
In 1972 the Nation of Islam took a controlling interest in a bank, the Guaranty Bank and Trust Co. Nation of Islam-owned schools expanded until, by 1974, the group had established schools in 47 U.S. cities, according to Wikipedia.
In 1972, Muhammad told his followers that the Nation of Islam had a net worth of $75 million, according to the book “The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad.” In 2020, $75 million would be worth $463.13 million, according to the CPI Inflation Calculator.
Amirah Muhammad, screenshot, https://nmaahc.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2016.129.7.1a-.2a