Cover

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Half Title, Series Info, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Figures

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

I wrote this book while grieving the loss of my best friend and last surviving sibling, Willa Nanette Taylor. She was my joy. Sadly, her passing was accompanied by that of other dear ones: my maternal grandmother, Willie Rogers; my paternal aunt Jean Cole; and friends who were also family—VeVe Clark, Lamonte Toney, Sharla Dundy-Millender, Lynnea Stephens, Benita Robinson, Laurie Warren, and Marti Adams. ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-6

I became initially drawn to women and the Nation of Islam (NOI) as a scholarly project when Spike Lee’s movie Malcolm X premiered in 1992. As a young assistant professor, I was asked to participate on a panel after the movie for a question-and-answer session with the audience. Given that I was the only female panelist, ...

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1. Mrs. Clara Poole

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pp. 7-17

Clara Bell Evans must have been in love, because all Elijah Poole could offer her were his dreams. They married on March 17, 1919, in the small town of Cordele, Georgia, when she was twenty and he was twenty-two. Her parents, Quartus and Mary Lou (Thomas) Evans, were a bit disappointed in their daughter’s marital choice.1 ...

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2. Building a Movement, Fighting the Devil

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pp. 18-30

The years from 1931 to 1934 were crucial not only for Clara Poole and her family but for the building of the Allah Temple of Islam (ATOI) in Detroit. As Elijah Poole—soon to be renamed Karriem, then Mohammed—was developing as a teacher and minister, Fard continued to introduce his interpretation of Islam to African Americans ...

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3. Allah Temple of Islam Families: The Dillon Report

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pp. 31-43

As Elijah Mohammed’s ministry grew, so did the expectations for Sister Clara, the minister’s wife. During the 1930s she was the equivalent of the Christian “preacher’s wife.” The role of a preacher’s wife at times proved isolating; these women often mourned the gradual deaths of their own talents.1 ...

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4. Controlling the Black Body: Internal and External Challenges

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pp. 44-56

The conclusion of the Dillon report that Master Fard’s religious movement would die out because it lacked “continuity of purpose” is fully contradicted by its steady growth in the ensuing decades. Before his disappearance, Fard had established two additional temples, in Chicago and Milwaukee. ...

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5. World War II: Women Anchoring the Nation of Islam

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pp. 57-73

Women in the Allah Temple of Islam (ATOI) took on new, if temporary, prominence during World War II. In the early 1940s, with the country at war and concerns about security dominating the national stage, the FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, unleashed an entourage of agents to squash “Foreign-Inspired Agitation among American Negroes.” ...

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6. Flexing a New Womanhood

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pp. 74-103

The women who kept meeting through the early 1940s made possible the transformation of what had been the ATOI into a nationwide Islamic movement, now officially named the Nation of Islam (NOI). The four temples that had been established by 1945 (Detroit No. 1, Chicago No. 2, Milwaukee No. 3, and Washington, D.C., No. 4) provided fertile ground for steady growth under the leadership of Elijah Muhammad ...

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7. Nation of Islam Womanhood, 1960–1975

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pp. 104-124

Jamesetta Hawkins was an unruly teen with a powerful singing voice. She dropped out of high school and began her professional career at the fragile age of fifteen. It was 1953, and for most of her young life she had been called a “Devil’s child.” Her mother, Dorothy, was a “Bad Bohemian,” and her lifestyle, which included drugs and prostitution, had stigmatized Jamesetta.1 ...

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8. The Royal Family

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pp. 125-139

Sister Clara, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and their children constituted the Royal Family of the NOI. At one time or another, all of the children worked actively for the Nation. By their example and through their work, the whole family influenced the lives of women in the NOI. ...

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9. The Appeal of Black Nationalism and the Promise of Prosperity

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pp. 140-168

Why would the revolutionary poet Sonia Sanchez convert to the NOI after the assassination of Minister Malcolm X? Prior to his brutal murder on February 21, 1965, Minister Malcolm wrote, in his 1965 autobiography as told to Alex Haley, that he knew, “[as] any official in the Nation of Islam would instantly have known, any death-talk [about me] ...

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10. Modesty, Marriage, and Motherhood Epilogue

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pp. 169-194

For women such as Sister Gwendolyn 2X Simmons, the “horrible secondary status” of women in the Nation of Islam led ultimately to the need to break away. That break was a declaration of resistance to male domination that others such as Sister Clara, or any typical Nation woman who fully accepted the rules, did not make; to suggest otherwise would be false. ...

Notes

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pp. 195-236

Bibliography

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pp. 237-258

Index

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pp. 259-269