Louis Farrakhan

Farrakhan, Louis (fârˈəkănˌ, färˈəkänˌ) [key], 1933–, African-American religious leader, b. New York City, as Louis Eugene Walcott. A former calypso singer known as "The Charmer," he joined the Nation of Islam (Black Muslims) in 1955, eventually becoming minister of the Harlem Temple after Malcolm X broke with the religious group. After Elijah Muhammad died and his son steered the Black Muslims toward Sunni Islamic practice, Farrakhan founded (1977) a reorganized Nation of Islam that adhered to the elder Muhammad's teachings. Often denounced as anti-Semitic and antiwhite, Farrakhan has stridently criticized white Americans while emphasizing African-American self-improvement. In 1995 he was one of the chief organizers of the Million Man March, a day of renewal for African-American men in Washington, D.C. In 2000, Farrakhan publicly reconciled with W. Deen Mohammed, Elijah's son. In 2006, Farrakhan, suffering from illness, gave the day-to-day responsibilities for running the Nation of Islam to its executive board.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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