Farrakhan, Louis

orig. Louis Eugene Walcott

born May 11, 1933, Bronx, New York, N.Y., U.S.

U.S. religious leader.

He joined the Nation of Islam in 1955, and for a time he assisted Malcolm X in Boston. After the latter converted to Sunnite Islam, the two became enemies, and Farrakhan replaced Malcolm as minister of Mosque No. 7 in Harlem. He has repeatedly denied involvement in Malcolm's assassination, suspicions of which were based in part on an article he had published in a Muslim newspaper some months earlier. When W. Deen Muhammad, Elijah Muhammad's successor as leader of the Nation of Islam, gradually began integrating the organization into the orthodox Muslim community, Farrakhan broke away and formed his own organization, also called Nation of Islam (1978). A compelling orator whose rhetoric often fell into overt anti-Semitism, Farrakhan was nonetheless effective in encouraging African American self-reliance and unity. He was the main organizer of the Million Man March on Washington in 1995.

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▪ American religious leader
in full  Louis Abdul Farrakhan,  original name  Louis Eugene Walcott 
born May 11, 1933, Bronx, New York, N.Y., U.S.
 
 African American leader (1978–2007) of the Nation of Islam, an African American movement that combined elements of Islam (Islām) with black nationalism.

      Walcott, as he was then known, was raised in Boston by his mother, Sarah Mae Manning, an immigrant from St. Kitts and Nevis. Deeply religious as a boy, he became active in the St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church in his Roxbury neighbourhood. He graduated with honours from the prestigious Boston English High School, where he also played the violin and was a member of the track team. He attended the Winston-Salem Teachers College from 1951 to 1953 but dropped out to pursue a career in music. Known as “The Charmer,” he performed professionally on the Boston nightclub circuit as a singer of calypso and country songs. In 1953 he married Khadijah, with whom he would have nine children.

      In 1955 Walcott joined the Nation of Islam. Following the custom of the Nation, he replaced his surname with an “X,” a custom among Nation of Islam followers who considered their family names to have originated with white slaveholders. Louis X first proved himself at Temple No. 7 in Harlem, where he emerged as the protégé of Malcolm X, the minister of the temple and one of the most prominent members of the Nation of Islam. Louis X was given his Muslim name, Abdul Haleem Farrakhan, by Elijah Muhammad (Muhammad, Elijah), the leader of the Nation of Islam. Farrakhan was appointed head minister of Boston Temple No. 11, which Malcolm had established earlier.

      After Malcolm X's break with the Nation in 1964 over political and personal differences with Elijah Muhammad, Farrakhan replaced Malcolm as head minister of Harlem's Temple No. 7 and as the National Representative of the Nation, the second in command of the organization. Like his predecessor, Farrakhan was a dynamic, charismatic leader and a powerful speaker with the ability to appeal to the African American masses.

      When Elijah Muhammad died in February 1975, the Nation of Islam fragmented. Surprisingly, the Nation's leadership chose Wallace Muhammad (now known as Warith Deen Mohammed (Mohammed, Warith Deen)), the fifth of Elijah's six sons, as the new Supreme Minister. Disappointed that he was not named Elijah's successor, Farrakhan led a breakaway group in 1978, which he also called the Nation of Islam and which preserved the original teachings of Elijah Muhammad. Farrakhan disagreed with Wallace Muhammad's attempts to move the Nation to orthodox Sunni (Sunnite) Islam and to rid it of Elijah Muhammad's radical black nationalism and separatist teachings, which stressed the inherent wickedness of whites.

      Farrakhan became known to the American public through a series of controversies that began during the 1984 presidential campaign of the Rev. Jesse Jackson (Jackson, Jesse), whom Farrakhan supported. Farrakhan withdrew his support after Jewish voters protested his praise of Adolf Hitler, and he has been embroiled in a continuing conflict with the American Jewish community because of his making allegedly anti-Semitic (anti-Semitism) statements; Farrakhan has denied being anti-Semitic. In later speeches he blamed the U.S. government for what he claimed was a conspiracy to destroy black people with AIDS and addictive drugs.

      In 1995 the Nation sponsored the Million Man March in Washington, D.C., to promote African American unity and family values. Estimates of the number of marchers, most of whom were men, ranged from 400,000 to nearly 1.1 million, making it the largest gathering of its kind in American history. Under Farrakhan's leadership, the Nation of Islam established a clinic for AIDS patients in Washington, D.C., and helped to force drug dealers out of public housing projects and private apartment buildings in the city. It also worked with gang members in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Nation continued to promote social reform in African American communities in accordance with its traditional goals of self-reliance and economic independence.

      In the early 21st century, the core membership of Farrakhan's Nation of Islam was estimated at between 10,000 and 50,000—though in the same period Farrakhan was delivering speeches in large cities across the United States that regularly attracted crowds of more than 30,000. Under Farrakhan's leadership, the Nation was one of the fastest growing of the various Muslim movements in the country. Foreign branches of the Nation were formed in Ghana, London, Paris, and the Caribbean islands. In order to strengthen the international influence of the Nation, Farrakhan established relations with Muslim countries, and in the late 1980s he cultivated a relationship with the Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi (Qaddafi, Muammar al-). After a near-death experience in 2000 resulting from complications from prostate cancer (he was diagnosed with cancer in 1991), Farrakhan toned down his racial rhetoric and attempted to strengthen relations with other minority communities, including Native Americans, Hispanics, and Asians. Farrakhan also moved his group closer to orthodox Sunni Islam in 2000, when he and Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, the leading American orthodox Muslim, recognized each other as fellow Muslims.

Lawrence A. Mamiya

Additional Reading
Farrakhan's writings and policy statements have appeared in Louis Farrakhan, 7 Speeches (1974), and A Torchlight to America (1995); Million Family March, The National Agenda: Public Policy Issues, Analyses, and Programmatic Plan of Action, 2000–2008 (2000); and Louis Farrakhan, Back Where We Belong: Selected Speeches by Minister Louis Farrakhan, ed. by Joseph D. Eure and Richard M. Jerome (1989).Amy Alexander (ed.), The Farrakhan Factor: African-American Writers on Leadership, Nationhood, and Minister Louis Farrakhan (1998), is a collection of essays of varying quality by African American writers. Mattias Gardell, In the Name of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam (1997), is the best and most detailed study of Farrakhan's movement. Arthur J. Magida, Prophet of Rage: A Life of Louis Farrakhan and His Nation (1996), is a journalistic biography of Farrakhan's life, based on interviews. Lawrence H. Mamiya, “From Black Muslim to Bilalian: The Evolution of A Movement,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 21 (2): 138–52 (June 1982), reprinted in Michael A. Koszegi and J. Gordon Melton (eds.), Islam in North America: A Sourcebook (1992), uses Malcolm X's life to interpret the split in the Nation of Islam between the African American Muslim movements led by Wallace Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan. Lawrence H. Mamiya, “Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Final Call: Schism in the Muslim Movement,” in Earle H.Waugh, Baha Abu-Laban, and Regula Querishi (eds.), The Muslim Community in North America, 234–58 (1983), recounts the beginnings of Farrakhan's movement and early speeches. Robert Singh, The Farrakhan Phenomenon: Race, Reaction, and the Paranoid Style in American Politics (1997), analyzes Farrakhan's place in American politics as a conservative extremist.Lawrence A. Mamiya

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Farrakhan, Louis — orig. Louis Eugene Walcott (n. 11 may. 1933, Bronx, Nueva York, N.Y., EE.UU.). Líder religioso estadounidense. Ingresó a la Nación del Islam en 1955 y por un tiempo colaboró con Malcolm X en Boston. Se enemistaron después de que este se convirtió …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Farrakhan,Louis — Far·ra·khan (färʹə kän ), Louis. Originally Louis Eugene Wolcott. Born 1933. American religious, cultural, and political leader. In 1997 he became the leader of the Nation of Islam. * * * …   Universalium

  • Louis Farrakhan — Muhammad, Sr. Head of the Nation of Islam Incumbent Assumed office 1978/1981 Preceded by …   Wikipedia

  • Louis Farrakhan — Nom de naissance Louis Eugene Walcott Naissance 11 mai 1933 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Farrakhan — Louis Farrakhan Louis Farrakhan Louis Farrakhan, né Louis Eugene Walcott le 11 mai 1933 dans le Bronx à New York, est le dirigeant de l organisation politique et religieuse Nation of Islam depuis 1981. Sommaire …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Louis Eugene Walcott — Louis Farrakhan Louis Farrakhan Louis Farrakhan, né Louis Eugene Walcott le 11 mai 1933 dans le Bronx à New York, est le dirigeant de l organisation politique et religieuse Nation of Islam depuis 1981. Sommaire …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Louis Farrakhan — (* 11. Mai 1933 in New York, NY, USA) ist Führer der afro amerikanischen Bewegung und Neureligion Nation of Islam. Farrakhan wurde unter dem Namen Louis Eugene Walcott im New Yorker Stadtteil Bronx geboren und wuchs in der West Indian community… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Farrakhan — Louis Farrakhan Louis Farrakhan (* 11. Mai 1933 in New York, NY, USA) ist der afro amerikanische Führer der Bewegung Nation of Islam. Seine in zahlreichen Interviews und Reden propagierte Ideologie wird von vielen Menschen als rassistisch… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Louis — Louis, Joe * * * (as used in expressions) Henry Louis Aaron Louis Francis Cristillo Agassiz, (Jean) Louis (Rodolphe) Aragon, Louis Louis Andrieux Armstrong, Louis Barrault, Jean Louis Barthou, (Jean) Louis Barye, Antoine Louis Berger, Victor… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • louis — /looh ee/; Fr. /lwee/, n., pl. louis /looh eez/; Fr. /lwee/. See louis d or. [1680 90] * * * (as used in expressions) Henry Louis Aaron Agassiz Jean Louis Rodolphe Aragon Louis Louis Andrieux Armstrong Louis Barrault Jean Louis Barthou Jean Louis …   Universalium

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