Just when you think the City Council couldn’t go lower, along comes Councilmember Kristin Jordan-Richardson looking to rename a Harlem street after Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, who promoted an odd mixture of black nationalism, “black capitalism” and black separatism.
And in the most pernicious of ironies, KJR proposes “The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad Way” for the corner of West 127th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard.
Speculation continues to this day about Mohammad’s involvement in the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X, who’d broken fully and public with the NOI not long before — in part over credible accusations against Mohammad of sex with underaged girls and adulterous activities with multiple women in the sect.
The corner is the site of the NOI-owned Mosque Temple No. 7, where Malcolm X long preached before that break — and where an NYPD officer was slain in 1972 (three years before Mohammad’s death) by unidentified NOI radicals while responding to a false emergency call at the mosque. That is, this renaming would be a dishonor in multiple ways.
Heck, before their falling out, Mohammad sent Malcolm to meet with white nationalist American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell to seek an alliance and gain his support for the Black Muslims separatist agenda. Does Jordan-Richardson know any of this history?
Fine, the NOI has been the vehicle for some criminals and addicts to turn their lives around. But it’s also been consistently anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic (including under current head Louis Farrakhan).
This renaming would be an utter obscenity. If Jordan-Richardson’s friends can’t get her to withdraw it, the full council needs to vote it down decisively.