During the 1960s, in the midst of the civil rights movement against segregation and discrimination, the teachings of the Nation of Islam extended beyond the fight for equality to include racial self-reliance, discipline, and economic independence.
The Nation of Islam was founded in Detroit by W. D. Fard in the early 1930s, and quickly thereafter the Honorable Elijah Muhammad assumed leadership of the Nation after Fard’s abrupt departure. By 1934, Muhammad had relocated to Chicago and soon built Temple No. 2 on the south side, in the South Shore neighborhood. It was here that businesses like Your Supermarket, once located on the southeast side of Cottage Grove, provided food for the black Muslim and non-Muslim community. And it is also here that the Muhammad University of Islam—an independently owned and operated school system—was established by Muhammad and remains today.
As we take a look back at Chicago’s black Muslim community during the 1960s and 1970s, we observe a variety of practices the Nation of Islam encouraged in its followers’ journey of spiritual growth and self-sufficiency.