Book Summary of
Message to the Blackman in America
The following is a brief summary that outlines some of the main points made by Elijah Muhammad in his 300-page book called Message to the Blackman in America. It was first printed in 1965 and then again in 1992 by United Brothers Communications Systems of Newport News, Virginia.
Elijah Muhammad makes many outlandish proclamations in his book, but it is important to keep in mind that the proclamations are mixed in with claims about discrimination that are true to varying degrees and that even when true to some degree, readers’ opinions would differ about the significance of such claims.
In his book, he says that he is a divine messenger who is warning blacks that they had better pledge to Nation of Islam’s version of Islam before Allah eliminates whites and non-believers in racial Armageddon. To understand the reasoning behind the belief in the eventual annihilation of whites, it is necessary to explore Elijah Muhammad’s interpretations of creation, of history, and of events from the 1960’s.
He says in his book that Allah created originally the blacks, next to the brown, red, and yellow races, and lastly the whites. A renegade black scientist named Yakub created the white race 6,000 years ago, and ever since then, the whites have ruled the other colors.
There are hints in the text that blacks are considered supreme over whites. After explaining that Yakub extracted the “brown germ” from the “black germ” and in turn grafted whites from the “brown germ,” the author says Yakub discovered that the “white . . . was the weaker of the black germ.” In discussing “Black Supremacy” versus “White Supremacy” the author says that “some must rule over the other. It is the law of nature.”
Whites are viewed as inherently evil for “the whole Caucasian race is a race of devils.” While they are usually referred to as “devils,” other titles are applied to whites such as “the great archdeceivers” and “man of sin.” The white race, we find out, “are the people described as ‘beast’ in the Revelation of the Bible.” We read that blacks have been tortured and murdered by whites principally, and as a result, whites are the “evil and murderous race.”
It is said that blue eyes are ugly while black eyes are beautiful.
Christianity, we are told, was organized in order to make slaves out of all blacks. Christianity’s purpose “was to deceive other races, namely, the black, brown, yellow and red” in order “to make an easy prey for the white race.” Playing into the hands of whites, black Christian preachers prevent blacks from learning Nation of Islam’s teachings.
Although most denigrations are pointed at white Christians, white Jews are included at times. Elijah Muhammad gives us his interpretation of Biblical history as follows: “Jesus . . . gave up His work of trying to convert the Jews or white race to the religion of Islam.”
Nation of Islam changes the names of new members by replacing with “X’s” their last names having European origins. For example, Malcolm Little became Malcolm X. Eventually, members get new last names. For example, Louis Eugene Walcott first changed to Louis X and then became Louis Farrakhan. Also, Elijah Poole became Elijah Muhammad. In Message to the Blackman in America, a name of European origin is called an “illegal” name while a name of Islamic origin is called “a legal and Holy name of God.” (The words Allah and God are used interchangeably in the book.) Blacks who keep their names that descended from “slave-masters” will not see the “hereafter.”
Strong demands for racial separation are issued. Elijah Muhammad commands that God calls for racial separation, and that “IT IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT TO TEACH SEPARATION OF THE BLACKS AND WHITES IN AMERICA THAN PRAYER.” Integration and intermarriage between blacks and whites are an attempt by whites to confuse blacks, keep them enslaved, and prevent them from learning Nation of Islam’s teachings. Demands are made to whites for a separate territory.
Blacks who assimilate into the mainstream culture are called “disgraceful Uncle Toms” and “Stool Pigeons.” Such blacks seek to please the “slave-masters’ children” and they prevent blacks from learning Nation of Islam’s teachings.
Elijah Muhammad wrote several passages giving his opinion of Martin Luther King and about King’s involvement in the civil rights movement. On one page, Elijah Muhammad offered Martin Luther King a sharing of power on the condition that Martin Luther King would pledge to Nation of Islam’s religious teachings including the demand for a separate territory. Most passages describe Martin Luther King as ignorant and foolish for working toward cooperation with whites and for saying, according to Elijah Muhammad, that blacks “must not seek to rise from a position of disadvantage to one of advantage substituting injustice of one type for that of another.”
We are told by Elijah Muhammad that police forces beat blacks and that thousands of blacks are held in prison “unjustly.”
Blacks cannot accomplish power through voting because whites will fight against blacks at the polling places, and even if many blacks were able to vote, any black candidates allowed to run would be in the pockets of the whites.
It is said that whites eventually will stop employing blacks and so blacks must learn to provide for themselves and each other. Blacks should buy land, build their own homes, and produce their own food. There are “enough educated black men and women in this government to start a government big enough to take care of the world.” Thus, blacks are ready to run the world after whites are annihilated. In the meantime, the author assures blacks that whites will sell them cloth making machines.
Elijah Muhammad asks blacks to send donations to Nation of Islam’s “National Three-Year Economics Savings Plan” that will allow for a bank to be started and that will turn their millions of dollars into billions. It is interesting that in a passage that asks blacks to donate money, Elijah Muhammad tells his readers that whites will have more respect for blacks if blacks save more money.
He also asks whites for monetary help, 20 to 25 years of it. He seems to make a distinction between two types of efforts. Blacks who ask whites for help are labeled shameful beggars when they also want to assimilate, but Elijah Muhammad does not call himself such when he asks whites for money and land because he wants it for black independence and separation.
The author warns that the white “devils,” the orthodox Muslims, and the black Christians all oppose the “new Islam” that will be brought about by Allah.
He says that accusations about the black Muslims plotting to overthrow the government are untrue because Nation of Islam teaches its members to be non-violent and not to possess guns. The white government will be ended by Allah alone during destructive Armageddon so that violent efforts by blacks are not needed.
However, in other passages, Elijah Muhammad reserves violent actions as a possibility. The blacks who marched during the 1960’s in Birmingham, Alabama, would have been justified to kill every police dog that they confronted, and if the police had fired upon them “they would have been justified by God and a Divine law of self-defense to fight and defend themselves. . . . Surely the American so-called Negroes would have God and world sympathy on their side if they would take the right steps or actions.” Concerning the questioning of black Muslims by the Federal Bureau of Investigation he says: “We want the FBI to know what we are teaching. We are not teaching what we do not want you to know, FBI. We want the government to know we have no secrets. The thing you should do is to keep it a secret yourself when you can.” After explaining that whites plot to keep blacks fighting amongst themselves, he says the following about blacks killing whites: “We don’t bother about killing them, as I am not teaching that which I want to be kept as a secret, but that which the world has not known and should know.”
Elijah Muhammad wrote in his book that the years 1965 and 1966 were to bring in the “Fall of America.” He wrote that it was “the touch of the finger of God” that made the world go off the gold standard, and the result would be the “crumbling and fall of America.”
We are told that among all whites in the world the whites in America and Germany have been the most vicious to the blacks and so they would be eliminated first in Armageddon. There would be a delay before other European whites would be eliminated.
Throughout the entire book, it is proclaimed that there is nothing whites can do to avoid Armageddon because whites were created inherently evil and because Allah doomed whites in the scriptures. It is worth noting the use the word “win” in a sentence near the end of the book because, at first glance, the use of the word seems to give a glimmer of hope to the “man of sin.” First Elijah Muhammad says America’s technology cannot defeat the divine weaponry that Allah would bring down upon it, and then he says the following: “what America needs to win is to give freedom and equal justice to her slaves” who are “the so-called Negroes” and to give a separate territory to them. The use of the word “win” most likely means, not that American whites can avoid their annihilation, but that they can buy some time like that already granted to other whites who are not German. In another quote he allows for American whites to delay their doom but not to avoid it: “War is due. War is inevitable. . . . It would be wise for you if you want to get an extension of time to treat us right.” He says that “the whole Caucasian race” can be reformed but by an action no less than grafting them back into blacks.
Throughout the book, we learn that Elijah Muhammad learned the Nation of Islam doctrines from Master Fard Muhammad in the 1930’s in Detroit, Michigan.
After the text ends, there is an appendix having documents in which Elijah Muhammad explains about himself and Nation of Islam. Some documents are transcriptions of interviews and others are letters written by him. One letter included is written not by him but by an Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, namely J. B. Stoner of Georgia, and a follow-up letter is Elijah Muhammad’s racist response to Stoner’s racist letter.
The book has an index, and just after it, there are several pages that serve as guides for interpreting “the Bible” and “the Holy Qur’an.” There is a list of titles that summarize passages from the scriptures, and many of the titles give summaries in a modern-day racial context. For examples, Revelation 14:4 is summarized as “Worship white man as God;” Revelation 18:4 is summarized as “God pleads with you to get out of America;” and a section of the Qur’an is summarized as “Black mud fashioned into shape.”