Black History Month: The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Built an $80 Million Food, Clothing, Education and Shelter Program for Black People

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Excerpt form Chicago’s Self Made Black Business Pioneers

As we enter Black history month, here are few Black History facts about the Nation of Islam

The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, born in Georgia, built a well-disciplined, organized body of Black men and women whose unity and hard work developed an estimated $80 million organization and forever changed the mentality of Black people.

From the headquarters of the Nation of Islam he established in Chicago, he established an organization that provided education, food, clothing and shelter for Black Americans.The 40 plus schools across the country taught Black youth using innovative techniques. The 35,000 acres of farmland purchased by the Nation of Islam in the states of Michigan, Alabama, Honduras and Georgia produced beef, lamb, produce, chickens, eggs and dairy products.

BBP AdThe farmland led to beef slaughtering and packaging stores, a wholesale business of fresh farm products, and a food processing cannery. These products were shipped via a fleet of Nation-owned trucks to various retail outlets, including bakeries, supermarkets, restaurants, and other Muslim and non-Muslim owned retail businesses.

The Hon. Elijah Muhammad’s inspiration and motivation built an import and export business that traded with Middle Eastern and Asian countries. This included the Black Muslims becoming the largest importers of frozen fish in the first year of business.

The farms also produced cotton, wool and hides, which led way to a clothing factory and store, and dry cleaning stores. He bought real estate to provide his followers with single dwelling homes and apartment buildings. He developed a health care program that allowed the Muslims to take all prescription drugs and medication out of their homes.

He inspired Black folks with Black-owned trucks rolling down the highway. Black people could look in the sky and see the plane owned by the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and the Muslims. With supporters, through the patronizing of the businesses and donations, he established Guarantee Bank that provided Black people with an opportunity to save their money and handle financial transactions free from abuse and racism.

The Hon. Elijah Muhammad also produced the most progressive, truthful, insightful and revolutionary newspaper, Muhammad Speaks; which grew to the point of selling one million copies a week. Realizing the importance of the children, the Hon. Elijah Muhammad also provided high level education for Black youth that not only taught reading, writing and arithmetic, but it gave them purpose for their studies by teaching them the knowledge of self, God and others. This provided Black children with a good, competitive education in a safe environment free from the mind-destroying methods of teaching by the oppressor.

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About the author / 

Toure Muhammad

Author Toure Muhammad is the head bean, publisher and chief strategist of Bean Soup Times. The Morehouse graduate has written front page cover stories for The Final Call and N’digo. He has been featured in the Chicago Reader, Upscale magazine, rolling out newspaper, and N’Digo magapaper. He’s been featured on Tavis Smiley’s radio show on NPR, on Chicago’s WBEZ (Chicago public radio), and many other radio shows.

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