Khalid Muhammad died on February 17, 2001 from the effects of a brain
aneurysm. Prior to his death, his words and deeds had been the focus of
increasing public attention. A former national spokesman for the Nation of Islam
(NOI), Muhammad's outspoken rhetoric was exceedingly confrontational. His
supporters viewed his hateful diatribes as expressions of rage that traditional
Black leaders were unable or unwilling to deliver. However, his numerous
appearances at universities and rallies proved to be little more than a platform
for his virulent anti-Semitism and racism.
By 1985, Muhammad had become one of Minister Louis Farrakhan's most trusted
advisors in the Nation of Islam. He accompanied Farrakhan on fund-raising trips
to Libya, where he became well acquainted with Muammar el-Qaddafi. Muhammad's
dedication to Farrakhan and to the racist message of the NOI eventually secured
him the title of national spokesman.
Muhammad first drew harsh criticism for a speech he gave at New Jersey's Kean
College in November 1993. He referred to Jews as "bloodsuckers,"
called for the genocide of white people, and demeaned both Pope John Paul II and
homosexuals. ADL responded by running a full-page ad in The New York Times
reprinting some of his statements. In February 1994, Congress issued a
denunciation of Muhammad, condemning his speech as "outrageous
hatemongering of the most vicious and vile kind." Farrakhan responded to
Muhammad's speech by removing him from the NOI's hierarchy, although he took
issue only with the form, not "the truth" of Muhammad's remarks.
After being stripped of his position as NOI spokesman, Muhammad led the New
Black Panther Party for Self Defense (NBPP), which was in the public spotlight
in Jasper, Texas. He traveled with about 50 followers to "protect" the
streets of Jasper in the wake of the heinous racial murder of James Byrd Jr. He
also organized and led the 1998 Million Youth March in New York. Many observers
blame Muhammad for inciting the melee between demonstrators and New York City
police officers, which concluded the march, by exhorting the crowd to beat the
police with rails and to shoot them with their own guns in
For the present, Mailik Zulu Shabazz appears to have taken over the
leadership of the NBPP. Shabazz was National Youth Director and Legal Counsel
for the Million Youth March. He holds a law degree from Howard University where
he founded Unity Nation, a student group for supporters of the Nation of Islam.
Shabazz has made many anti-Semitic speeches over the past few years.
Muhammad's violent and unapologetic barrage of bigotry, anti-Semitism and
racism was particularly disturbing because of the young and impressionable
audience at which it is aimed. Despite the rejection of his rhetoric by
political and religious leaders, including some prominent Black activists and
leaders, Muhammad spread his message of intolerance. Muhammad will be remembered
for his displays of bigotry and fanaticism, which he often cloaked in religious
principles. His legacy is best profiled in his own words.