Nation of Islam 1989 to 2018, Cafe Royal Books
I have been intrigued by the Nation of Islam since hearing hip- hop group Public Enemy and O’Shea Jackson Sr, known professionally as Ice Cube, reference them in their lyrics.
My research was well underway by the time the organisation’s profile in the UK hit television screens in 1998 as members were refused re-entry by the Metropolitan Police at the inquiry into murdered black teen, Stephen Lawrence — a murder that reframed race relations in the UK.
An import from the USA where racial equality came late, the Nation of Islam is an organisation preaching self-reliance within an Islamic framework and has been praised for its work in inner city areas. Although controversial to some, its ideology and teachings attracted such global figures as Muhammed Ali. Others, like Malcolm X in the 60s, and the present-day leader, Minster Louis Farrakhan, who was banned from entering the UK in 1986, have become household names.
Louis Farrakhan is arguably the most powerful black political figure in the USA today, buttressed by the success of the “Million Man March”. The gathering of African Americans in Washington D.C., in October 1995, has been compared to Martin Luther King’s famous march on the capital 32 years earlier. Music, particularly hip-hop, has helped the NOI maintain a high profile in modern popular culture.