Jeremiah Shabazz was born into a poor family in Philadelphia, Pa. during the Great Depression. He attended the Benjamin Franklin High School graduating with honors and subsequently drafted into the US Army. Jeremiah served 18 months in Japan and Korea. Returning home he attended Temple University majoring in Mechanical Design Technology.
After school he then embarked on a career in government with jobs in the Post Office, Navy Dept., Railway Mail Service and finally the army signal Corps where in 1955 he was summarily dismissed for belonging to the "Muslim Cult of Islam", the name the government gave to the Nation of Islam under the leadership of Elijah Muhammad. Jeremiah had actually been a Muslim since the age of 14 when he came under the influence of a Muslim minister who also worked as a barber in his North Philadelphia neighborhood. After discharge from the Army he served as a Lieutenant in the Fruit of Islam (FOI) for six years. It was in 1954 that he met the late Malcolm X who had been summoned from Boston, Mass. to Philadelphia by Elijah Muhammad to help mediate a dispute Malcolm X subsequently moved into Jeremiah's small apartment where he stayed for approximately one year before Mr. Muhammad sent him to New York City to assume the ministry there. Jeremiah resisted Malcolm's offer to move to New York and remained in Philadelphia were he rose to the rand of East Coast Captain of the FOI. After his promotion, Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X were then responsible for the propagation of Islam in all states west of the Mississippi. For 3 years they toured the northeast; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Youngstown; Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids, Mich.; Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y, with frequent stops in Chicago touching base with the Leader of Islam, Elijah Muhammad. then it was on to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, MD., Hartford and New Haven, Conn., Springfield and Boston, Mass.
It was to Boston, Mass during the summer of 1956 that Malcolm and Jeremiah were sent to investigate some problems that had arisen in the Temple. At that time a brother, Ulysses X was the minister and Louis X (Louis Farrakhan) was the local FOI Captain. Unfortunately, it became necessary for the Malcolm/Jeremiah team to temporarily suspend Ulysses X from his ministerial duties pending final adjudication from Elijah Muhammad. Although it was customary to replace ministers with their assistants, Jeremiah Shabazz argued for installing Louis X instead because he had demonstrated an ability that more than qualified him for the job. After a brief deliberation, Louis X was placed into his first position as a Minster.
In the Fall of 1957 Jeremiah was selected to go to Los Angeles to become the West Coast Representative for Mr. Muhammad but fate intervened and he was sent instead to Atlanta, Ga. to troubleshoot yet another problem. The Problem required more than a few days to solve with Jeremiah remaining in Georgia approximately 7 years. Observing the plight of Black people throughout the South inspired Jeremiah to launch an Islamic Crusade as he went to Macon and Savannah, Ga., Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Pensacola, Fl. Birmingham, Anniston and Tuscaloosa, Ala., Meridian and Jackson, Miss., Monroe, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La.
In the summer of 1962 Jeremiah Shabazz became the first Black man in the history of America to attend a Ku Klux Klan rally in Georgia and live to tell about it. When Martin Luther King, Jr. moved from Montgomery to Atlanta he found that Jeremiah was already established as a fearless fighter for black people and an opponent of integration and a believer in racial separation as the true path to freedom, justice and equality for black people.
Another important event transpired during the summer of 1962 when a brash, young fighter named Cassius Clay visited the Miami Temple of Islam which led to his conversion to Islam and all the ensuing controversy. Again it was Jeremiah Shabazz who introduced him to the faith and helped to nurture him into becoming Muhammad Ali, 3 times heavyweight Champion.
In 1963 when Malcolm X was censured by Elijah Muhammad for his now infamous "chickens coming home to roost" remarks concerning the death of President John F. Kennedy, it was Jeremiah that Elijah Muhammad dispatched to New York to "fill-in" for Malcolm during his forced silence.
Shabazz's life has not been without controversy. When Muhammed Ali sued boxing promoter Don King for underpaying him by $1.1 million for a fight with Larry Holmes, King called in Jeremiah Shabazz, and handed him a suitcase containing $50,000 in cash and a letter ending Ali's lawsuit against King. He asked Shabazz to visit Ali (who was in hospital due to his failing health) and get him to sign the letter and then give Ali the $50,000. Ali signed. The letter even gave King the right to promote any future Ali fights. According to Shabazz 'Ali was ailing by then and mumbling a lot. I guess he needed the money.' Shabazz later regretted helping King. Ali's lawyer cried when he learned that Ali had ended the lawsuit without telling him.
Jeremiah and his wife, Elizabeth Shabazz, traveled extensively to places around the globe spreading the teachings of the Nation of Islam. Upon his time of passing Bro. Minister Jeremiah Shabazz appointed Brother Minister Al Muntaquin Ali to minister over Muhammad's Temple #12.Many other Ministers at that time had abandoned him and went with other leaders.
- PSU article
- Village Voice article
Famous quotes containing the word jeremiah:
“Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.”
—Bible: Hebrew Job, 3:3.
A similar imprecation is found in Jeremiah 20:14-15.