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Askia Muhammad Speaks

By Brenda D. Muhammad | Last updated: Jan 17, 2018 - 10:27:59 AM

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Former Muhammad Speaks newspaper editor in chief and Final Call senior editor offers collection of poetry, photos

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Who in the world is Charles 67X?

Born Charles K. Moreland, Jr., in Indianola, Mississippi, he exchanged the “slave name” Moreland for the Nation of Islam’s “X,” as in “unknown quantity,” as in “ex-Negro,” as in “Charles 67X.”

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Young Charles (now known as Askia Muhammad) with his mother and grandmother in a photo affectionately titled, “Big Mama, Little Mama and me. My first birthday, March 28, 1946, Indianola, Mississippi.”
He’s now Askia Muhammad, a poet and photojournalist, and he’s used beauty and skill in the Autobiography of Charles 67X, to weave readers through more than six decades of perplexities of unresolved institutional racism and his methods to challenge and defy it.

This explosive collection of poetry and photographs follows Muhammad on a remarkable journey through his early life of self-development, that awakens the boundaries of his social, spiritual and political consciousness.

Armed with love for his mother and grandmother during a period of social and political unrest, Muhammad recalls his childhood paper route and even the terror of 3 a.m. beatings; selling the Muhammad Speaks newspaper, and attending Garvey Day Parades.

His writing is revealing, transparent and painful, yet he manages to create a simple exegesis of poetry that flows like music, warming the soul, evoking painful memories and a peace that comes from the mastery of life. He shares with readers a stunning story of family, human hardships, social breakthroughs, survival, and his love for Black girls, as seen in “Prime Time Poem.” He lived life His Way.

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A Muslim woman in the Nation of Islam helps her daughter as they prepare to attend Sunday service. Photos: Askia Muhammad

His works are deep and turbulent. He is unmoving, unbreakable, following his own path, yet like “Spade” the “Ninja,” in his “Anthony Houston” poem, he is not afraid.
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The immortal Chicano labor leader Cesar Chavez in 1969 at mountain retreat bears witness to eternal truth.

Muhammad’s “Whisky A-Go-Go” is both entertaining and rhythmic. He deliberately examines the political climate of the 1960s and the American culture that takes him from the dark shadows of being a young Negro living in the dramatic Civil Rights era to one that rewards him and other Black journalists with “full employment” after the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968.

In “Assassination,” Muhammad captures our thoughts; quiets our minds; evokes fear and memories of what happens to great men and women who are freedom fighters.

“I’ll remember even shackled hands can, often do, make fists,” Muhammad reflects in his “Old Age” poem referring to his San Jose State University classmates Tommie Smith and John Carlos who raised clenched fists at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

His poetry includes commentary on economics, education, politics, labor, law, religion, entertainment, and war. He reminds readers that Black men fought in every American war, and yet are still without full citizenship in this country, in now the 21st Century.

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Mr. Askia Muhammad in front of inaugural bandstand on Jan. 20, 2013 prior to inauguration for President Barack Obama's second term.

Muhammad is gentle, yet fierce and determined; explosive and loving at the same time. He’s laid back, giving, watchful; seeking high intelligence. Defiance labeled him as persona non-grata. However, he is equally yoked with the humane attributes of a round-the-way Mississippi boy. He also served as the first Muslim editor of the historic and groundbreaking Muhammad Speaks newspaper and is a senior editor with The Final Call,  as well as a longtime radio host.

He is Askia; Brother Askia Muhammad.

More than three dozen original photographs in this volume, include: The Rev. Andrew Young, Mrs. Coretta Scott King: Waiting, Planning, Patient. Visionaries determined to be free. Unafraid, Black, Bold. A mixture of comforting hues from the heavens. Dr. Carlton Goodlett and Journalist Ethel Payne: Renowned journalists in January 1975 at the home of Virgin Islands Governor Cyril James. Beautiful, intellectual media people. Born to tell it like it is; Destined to be heard. Cesar Chavez: “Freedom is best experienced through participation and self-determination, and free men and women instinctively prefer democratic change to any other means,” Cesar Chavez, He Showed Us The Way. Barack Obama: This photo, had it been shown or published a decade ago, would have literally changed the outcome of the 2008 presidential election. It depicts a warm and friendly encounter between Illinois Senator Barack Obama and Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan taken at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in 2005.

The Autobiography of Charles 67X by Askia Muhammad will be available in bookstores by Jan. 31. He can be reached at charles67x@gmail.com.