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date: 23 September 2020

Muhammad, Elijah locked

(10 Oct. 1897–25 Feb. 1975),
  • Lawrence H. Mamiya

Extract

leader of the Nation of Islam, was born Robert Poole in Sandersville, Georgia, the son of William Poole, an itinerant Baptist preacher and sharecropper, and Mariah Hall, a domestic for local white families. In 1900 the family moved to Cordele, Georgia, where Muhammad went to public school until the fourth grade, when he dropped out to supplement his family's income as a laborer in sawmills and with the Cherokee Brick Company. In 1919 he married Clara Evans [Muhammad] of Cordele, and they had two daughters and six sons.

With thousands of other African Americans from the rural South, Muhammad migrated to Detroit, Michigan, in the early 1920s. A depressed southern agricultural economy hampered by boll weevil infestation of cotton crops and increasing mechanization of farm labor forced many small farmers to join the Great Migration to the booming industrial cities of the North Muhammad and some of ...

A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.

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