Martin Luther King met with the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1966. (Photo: AP/ Wide World Photos)
Muhammad Ali, Feb 26, 1967. (Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times)
By Janiah Adams
Minister Louis Farrakhan will be speaking in Miami at Mount Zion Baptist Church on Thursday, July 30, 2015. His message is expected to center around Justice Or Else, the theme for this year’s 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.
Little is known about the history of the Nation of Islam (NOI) in Miami, particularly in Overtown where Farrakhan will speak.
When the first mosque was established in Miami, Brother Lucius Bey was the minister, and it was located on 17th Avenue, across the street from Range Funeral Home. In 1962, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Farrakhan’s teacher, purchased what used to be a Baptist church on Seventh Avenue to become the new home of the mosque. He had one of his ministers by the name of Abdul Bey Muhammad, who was serving in Detroit, Mich. at the time, relocate to Miami to take over the mosque in Miami.
Shortly thereafter, in 1964, Muhammad Ali registered into the NOI in Miami. “The first time I made contact with Muhammad Ali was in Over-town,” recalls Minister Abdul Bey Muhammad. “We were selling the Final Call news-paper,” he added. Ali asked: “Why are we called Negroes?” At that time Minister Rahman Muhammad, who was my captain at the time, started talking to him. We pulled him in right there. He began attending the mosque in Miami.”
Joseph Arrington, Jr., who was a famous musician in the ’60s and ’70s known as Joe Tex, came into the NOI a little bit after Muhammad Ali, and eventually became a minister of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
Over the years, the mosque in Miami truly thrived. Members of the community knew the brothers and sisters of the mosque, and the mosque worked hand in hand with various organizations and people such as churches, city-officials, and activists.
The last time Minister Farrakhan came to town, promotion was very aggressive. The members of the NOI worked tirelessly to make sure they word got out. An endless amount of flyers were printed, the advertisements also went on billboards, and various community leaders helped promote the event. Community leaders such as T. Willard Fair, who is currently the President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Miami, worked with the Minister Abdul Bey to get the word out.
“He was very instrumental in rounding all of the clergy and activists in the city for bringing Minister Farrakhan in,” said Minister Bey of T. Willard Fair. “He tried to take it out of our hands and promote it himself because it was such a thrill to him,” he exclaimed.
With everyone working together, regardless of creed, class or color, Minister Farrakhan had an audience of fifteen thou-sand people at the Miami Arena.
Rasul Muhammad, a son of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, took on the post as Student Minister of the mosque in 1995. Under his leadership, they were able to establish relationships with Reverend Moss. They also helped to put Michelle Spence Jones into office by promoting her campaign door to door.
Due to health issues, Student Minister Rasul Muhammad had to take a sabbatical to focus on bringing himself back to health. Minister Louis Farrakhan then appointed Student Minister Patrick Muhammad, originally in charge of the mosque in Phoenix, Ariz., to be the student minister in Miami. He has been serving in this capacity for the past three years. Just like his predecessors, he is helping the mosque and the community to prosper. His latest endeavor is bringing the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan to speak at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Overtown.
“Recently in Atlanta I had the honor to have dinner with him,” said Brother Patrick. “At the end of dinner, I went and shook his hand, and it came to mind to ask him if we could have him in Miami. He responded to me with a smile, saying that it was a possibility. Two days later, I received a phone call that it was approved.”
Brother Patrick sees that the community is very excited to see the Minister.
“The buzz is like a tidal wave of a spirit,” he said. “I’ve heard that last time the Minister spoke here was approximately 20 years ago. The community is saying they’re thankful that the Minister is coming again. They are hungry for it as well.”
Mt. Zion Baptist Church was one of the first meeting places for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other Civil Rights’ leaders. Minister Louis Farrakhan speaking there, that speaks volume about his message of unity within the community, regardless of religious back-grounds.
“Miami is a place with so much diversity,” said Brother Patrick. “We come from all across. The historical thing is that the church is located directly across from a building where Muhammad Ali accepted the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. This is the city where the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad appointed Minister Abdul Bey Muhammad. I’m just honored to strive and serve in that capacity as we are blessed to be on the shoulders of our pioneers.”