Born on this day in history, May 11, 1933, in Boston, Massachusetts, Louis Farrakhan became the leader of the Nation of Islam in 1978 and remained the leader until 2007. The Nation of Islam is an African American faction that mixes part of the Islam religion with black racial intolerance. Born Louis Walcott, Farrakhan was always religious as a youth. He grew up in the neighborhood of Roxbury ad was very active in his church. As a young man, he graduated from the esteemed Boston English High School, with honors. He also played the violin there and was on the track team at the school as well.
In 1955, two years after he married Khadja, a woman he would have nine children with, Farrakhan joined the Nation of Islam and became a protégé of Malcolm X at Temple No. 7 in Harlem, N.Y. Malcolm X was the minister of the temple and was one of the most famous members of the Nation of Islam. He changed his name from Louis Walcott to Louis X. Changing his last name to X was a Nation of Islam custom as followers of the Nation felt their surnames had originated with white slaveholders. Soon, the leader of the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad, gave Louis X his Muslim name of Abdul Haleem Farrakhan. Louis Farrakhan was then appointed as minister of Temple 11 in Boston, a temple that Malcolm X started a few years earlier.
Due to political and personal differences with Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X made a break from the Nation of Islam and Elijah appointed Louis Farrakhan as the new minister of Temple No. 7 in Harlem and also appointed him as National Representative of the Nation, which made Farrakhan the second in command of the organization. Then in February of 1975, Elijah Muhammad died and in a surprise move, Elijah’s fifth of his six sons became the new supreme minister of the Nation of Islam. Disappointed that he wasn’t appointed to the prestigious post, Louis Farrakhan split from the Nation in 1978 with a group of people and they still called themselves the Nation of Islam and still adhered to Elijah Muhammad’s teachings and doctrines.
Wallace Muhammad, Elijah’s fifth son and successor attempted to move the Nation of Islam to follow the doctrines of the orthodox Sunni Muslims and Farrakhan wholeheartedly disagreed with this move. Wallace wanted to break away from his father’s teachings of radical black xenophobia and separatist teachings that all white people are inherently evil. Controversy followed Louis Farrakhan for the next couple of decades. In 1984, he became a supporter of the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s quest to become president of the United States but soon withdrew his support when the Jewish community accused him of being an anti-Semite. Farrakhan had also accused the US Government of conspiring to destroy African Americans with AIDS and drugs.
In 1995, the Nation of Islam sponsored the first Million Man March to promote African American family values and unity. Farrakhan did do some good as well when under his leadership; the Nation of Islam created an AIDS clinic in Washington, D.C., and also forced drug pushers out of the ghettos and apartment buildings in the city.
In 2000, Louis Farrakhan had a near death experience of complications from prostate cancer. He was diagnosed with the cancer in 1991. Also by this time, the Nation had branched out overseas to places such as Ghana, London, England and the Caribbean Islands. He also toned down his racial oratory and reached out to other minorities such as Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans.
For much more on Louis Farrakhan and his accomplishments, please follow the links I gave at the bottom o this page.