Born Harold Moore, Jr. on January 12, 1948 in Houston, Texas, the late Khalid Abdul Muhammad is best remembered as the vulgar mouthpiece of the Nation of Islam (NOI) and the New Black Panther Party (NBPP).
Muhammad was the second of six children born to his father, Harold Moore, Sr., and his mother, Lottie B. Moore. As a youth, he was raised in Houston by his Aunt Carrie Moore Vann. After graduating from high school, Muhammad won a scholarship to Dillard University in Louisiana, where he pursued a degree in theological studies.
While attending Dillard, Muhammad had his first personal encounter with Louis Farrahkan of the Nation of Islam; it was a meeting that would have a profound influence on the rest of Muhammad’s life. In 1970 he joined NOI and became Farrakhan’s protégé. Going by the name “Brother Harold X,” Khalid Muhammad became active as both a member and a recruiter within the organization.
By 1975, the 27-year-old radical was calling himself Dr. Malik Rushaddin and was taking part in revolutionary movements focused on bringing an end to South African apartheid. In 1978 Muhammad was appointed Western Regional Minister of the Nation of Islam and leader of Mosque Number 27. He officially took the name Khalid Abdul Muhammad in 1983, when Louis Farrakhan named him Khalid (meaning “great warrior”) in honor of Khalid ibn Walid, a famous seventh-century general of Islam. In 1985 Farrakhan appointed Muhammad to be NOI’s National Spokesman and Representative; together the pair went on fundraising trips to Libya, where they met with President Muammar Qadhafi.
Over time, Muhammad developed a busy career as a public speaker. He addressed audiences at many houses of worship (even serving a stint as a minister at the First Afrocentric Temple in Atlanta, Georgia) and at more than 100 universities in the United States, Africa, and Europe. Despite the incendiary, hateful rhetoric that was his trademark, he did not gain wide public notoriety until the media took notice of a particularly vulgar, three-and-a-half-hour diatribe which he delivered to a Kean College, New Jersey audience on November 29, 1993.
That day, Muhammad referred to Jews as people whose ancestors were cannibals who “crawled around on all fours in the caves and hills of Europe” and “slept in [their] urination and [their] defecation … for 2,000 years.” He characterized contemporary Jews as “slumlords in the black community” who were busy “sucking our [blacks’] blood on a daily and consistent basis.” He said that Jews had provoked Adolf Hitler when they “went in there, in Germany, the way they do everywhere they go, and they supplanted, they usurped.” And he declared that blacks, in retribution against South African whites of the apartheid era, should “kill the women,…kill the children,…kill the babies,…kill the blind,…kill the crippled,…kill the faggot,…kill the lesbian,…kill them all.”
On subsequent occasions, Muhammad praised Colin Ferguson, a black man who had shot some twenty white and Asian commuters (killing six of them) in a racially motivated 1993 shooting spree aboard a New York commuter train, as a hero who possessed the courage to “just kill every goddamn cracker that he saw.” He advised blacks that “[t]here are no good crackers, and if you find one, kill him before he changes.” He told a Donahue television audience in May 1994 that “[t]here is a little bit of Hitler in all white people.” He characterized black conservatives as “boot-licking, butt-licking, bamboozled, half-baked, half-fried, sissified, punkified, pasteurized, homogenized Nigger[s].” On May 21, 1997 he told a San Francisco State University audience that the “white man” is “a no-good bastard. He’s not a devil, the white man is the Devil.” In September 1997 he said, “If you say you’re white, goddammit I’m against you. If you’re a Jew, I’m against you. Whatever the hell you want to call yourself, I’m against you.”
Eventually Muhammad’s manner became too extreme even for Farrakhan, who, very much aware of the negative public image NOI was developing as a result of Muhammad’s verbal excesses, expelled the fiery orator from the organization. Farrakhan explained, however, that he was doing so only because of the tone, and not the content, of Muhammad’s message.
In 1998 Muhammad became Chairman of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP), which evolved from a number of small, loosely connected groups in Milwaukee and Dallas that had been established around 1989 by Aaron Michaels. Muhammad brought national media exposure to NBPP when he led the organization in a menacing public protest — featuring some 50 men wearing fatigues and berets, and brandishing assault rifles and shotguns — in response to the racially motivated, June 1998 murder of a black man named James Byrd in Jasper, Texas.
Muhammad, who favored the creation of a separate school district for black students in Dallas, also led a series of angry, confrontational disruptions of school board meetings in that city. In May 1996 one such meeting was cancelled after NBPP members threatened to attend with loaded weapons.
On September 5, 1998, Muhammad keynoted the so-called “Million Youth March” in Harlem, New York, an event that drew about 6,000 people. The major theme of the day was summed up by one of the rally’s co-organizers Erica Ford, who told the crowd, “The police are our [blacks’] number one enemy, brothers and sisters. … We can’t get these people off our backs.” NBPP leader Malik Zulu Shabazz concurred, “Police brutality is out of control, and we must unite to defeat them, and destroy them by any means necessary.” Muhammad himself encouraged the attendees to physically attack police officers before leaving the premises. “Get to whaling on their asses today,” he instructed. Some people did in fact throw chairs and bottles at the police.
Muhammad continued his work with NBPP, striving to foster interracial hatred and ultimately a full-blown race war in the United States, until he died on February 17, 2001 as a result of a brain aneurysm. At the time of Muhammad’s death in an Atlanta hospital, Al Sharpton was at his bedside. Sharpton then gave Muhammed’s family $10,000 to help cover his funeral expenses.