- Sixties radical, led “Black Power” movement
- Succeeded Stokely Carmichael as leader of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1967
- Former Executive Board President of the American Muslim Council
- Currently serving a life sentence for killing a police officer in 2000
Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin was born Hubert Geroid Brown in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in October 1943. Popularly known as H. Rap Brown during the 1960s, he succeeded Stokely Carmichael as leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in May 1967.
In the mid-Sixties, Brown and Carmichael together were key activists in the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, an Alabama group whose flag sported the image of a black panther. Both men rejected Martin Luther King, Jr.’s nonviolent and integrationist politics, and called instead for “Black Power.” Brown’s most famous statement was, “Violence is as American as apple pie.” He commonly referred to President Lyndon Johnson as a “mad, wild dog” and a “honkie cracker.” “If you give me a gun,” Brown warned, “I just might shoot Lady Bird” (Mrs. Johnson). In the aftermath of the violent 1967 race riots in Newark, New Jersey, Brown exhorted black people to “wage guerrilla war on the honkie white man.”
In July 1967 Brown was arrested for inciting a riot at a civil-rights rally in Cambridge, Maryland. At that event, he declared: “Black folks built America, and if America don’t come around, we’re going to burn America down. We are going to burn it down if we don’t get our share of it.” Moreover, Brown urged his listeners to “get you some guns” because “the only thing a honkie respects is force.” “Don’t try loving a honkie to death,” he added. “Shoot him to death. Shoot him to death, brother, ’cause that’s what he’s out to do to you.”
On various other occasions in 1967, Brown accused the white power structure of “escalating genocide” against blacks; said that black U.S. soldiers in Vietnam should return home to “fight the real war”; urged black women who worked for white families to serve their employers food sprinkled with “arsenic instead of salt”; and called for arson and mass rioting in American cities.
At a 1968 rally in Oakland, California, Brown was named the Minister of Justice for the Black Panther Party. That same year, he wrote his first book, Die Nigger Die, in which he claimed that white people wanted all blacks dead. Then, rather than face criminal charges stemming from the Cambridge incident of 1967, Brown jumped bail and disappeared for two years, thereby earning himself a spot on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list.
In 1971 Brown was arrested at the scene of a shootout with police during the attempted robbery of a New York City bar, and he was subsequently sent to prison for five years. His defense attorney was the radical William Kunstler, who previously had represented Stokely Carmichael and Angela Davis. While serving his sentence behind bars, Brown converted to a Muslim movement known as Dar-ul-Islam, a Sunni organization of African Americans which blended the rhetoric of “Black Power” with a call for strict religious devotion. A fellow inmate recommended that Brown take the name “Al-Amin,” which translates to “the trustworthy” in Arabic. From then on, Brown was known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin.
When he was paroled in 1976, Al-Amin founded and became Imam of the Atlanta Community Mosque. By 1980, he was the recognized spiritual leader of more than thirty Islamic centers belonging to Dar-ul-Islam; their aggregate membership was approximately 10,000 people.
In 1993 Al-Amin was a founding member of the Islamic Shura Council of North America, an organization authorized to make key decisions about Muslim religious life in the United States.
In his 1994 book Revolution by the Book (The Rap is Live), Al-Amin wrote: “When we begin to look critically at the Constitution of the United States, we see that in its main essence it is diametrically opposed to what Allah has commanded.”
In the Nineties, male worshippers belonging to Al-Amin’s Atlanta mosque wore either Islamic-style skullcaps and long robes, or black-nationalist combat boots and fatigues. In 1995, two of the mosque’s members were convicted of illegally shipping more than 900 firearms not only to groups in Detroit and Philadelphia, but also to an Islamic gang with ties to Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. Subsequently, a young convert at Al-Amin’s mosque joined Islamic separatists in Kashmir, where he was killed while participating in an attack against an Indian army post.
In 1995 Al-Amin was arrested for shooting a drug dealer four times in the legs, and also was charged with carrying a concealed and unlicensed handgun. The following year, he was investigated for more than a dozen homicides but was never formally charged. Then in 1999 he was charged with possessing a stolen car, driving without insurance, and impersonating a police officer. Al-Amin refused to appear for his court date, prompting police to issue a warrant for his arrest.
When two sheriff deputies (both African American) tried to serve the warrant on March 16, 2000, which was the Muslim holiday Eid ul-Adha, they were shot. Deputy Ricky Kinchen was killed, and his partner Aldranon English was wounded. English later identified Al-Amin as the shooter, and after a five-day police manhunt the suspect was caught and arrested in a wooded area near a small town in Alabama. The gun that had been used in the police shootings was found in Al-Amin’s car. In 2002 Al-Amin was tried and found guilty of Kinchen’s murder and is now serving a life sentence in prison.
Along with Philadelphia cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal, Al-Amin now ranks among the most celebrated “political prisoners” championed by the Left. A supportive Mumia himself has praised Al-Amin for having “lived a good and rich life in service to his spiritual and ethnic community.”
Al-Amin has long condemned the United States as a racist nation, referring to it as “AmeriKKKa.”