Photojournalist Ozier Muhammad was born in 1950. His grandfather was Elijah Muhammad, a founder and leader of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad was raised in Chicago, Illinois and received his B.A. degree in photography from Columbia College Chicago in 1972.
Muhammad was first hired as a photographer for Ebony magazine in the early 1970s. He then worked at The Charlotte Observer from 1978 to 1980, and at Newsday from 1980 to 1992. While at Newsday, he shared the 1985 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting with Josh Friedman and Dennis Bell, for a series of reports titled “Africa, The Desperate Continent.” In 1992, Muhammad was hired as a staff photographer for The New York Times, where he took iconic photographs of President Barack Obama’s campaign, Haiti after the earthquake, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and the Nato Protest in Chicago. He has also written articles for the The New York Times photojournalism blog “Lens.”
Muhammad was selected as a contributing photographer for the 1990 Songs of My People, a book, exhibition and multimedia project that attempted to record African American life through the eyes of prominent African American photographers. In addition, his photography was showcased in the 2000 book, One Hundred Jobs: A Panorama of Work in the American City, by Ron Howell.
Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize, Muhammad received the George Polk Award for News Photography in 1984, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Columbia College Chicago in 1998. He served as a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University from 1986 to 1987, and a Peter Jennings Fellow at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia in 2007.
Muhammad lives in New York City, and is the father of two children. His son, Khalil, is the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. His daughter, Pilar, is in high school.
Ozier Muhammad was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 9, 2014.