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Imam Vernon Fareed

Religious and civic leader Vernon M. Fareed was born on December 31, 1953 in Norfolk, Virginia. Throughout his childhood, his parents instilled strong values that followed him through his life, despite segregation. Raised a Christian, he joined the Nation of Islam at the age of eighteen. He converted to the traditional form of Islam in 1975.

In 2000, Fareed became a member of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC). He went on to become the chair of the Tidewater Chapter and serve on its state board. In 2005 Imam Fareed became the first Muslim of African-American descent to offer the invocation for the Virginia State Senate. Fareed also wrote for the New Journal and Guide newspaper in 1983 as a columnist, and he currently serves as the Manager and President of Salaam Investment Group, LLC. Since 1976, Fareed has been the Imam of Masjid [Mosque] William Salaam which helps to serve almost 6,000 Muslims in the Hampton Roads’ community.

For his religious work, Fareed received an Honorary Doctoral Degree from Bishop Jessie Featherston at Trinity Mission University in 1997. He also received VCIC’s National Humanitarian Award in 2006 for his community involvement. Fareed has served on many boards including the Ministers Advisory Committee to Norfolk’s Police Chief, the FBI Multi-Cultural Advisory Board and Religions for Peace RFP-USA, the largest representative interreligious organization in the world. In addition, he was selected as the National Convener of the Sectional Imams in 2009. Fareed wrote the spiritual book Uniformity in Prayer published in 2008.

Vernon Fareed was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 12, 2010.

Fareed passed away on September 12, 2017 at age 63.

Accession Number

A2010.019

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/12/2010

Last Name

Fareed

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

M.

Occupation
Schools

Smallwood School

Old Dominion University

Madison School

Matthew Fontaine Maury High School

First Name

Vernon

Birth City, State, Country

Norfolk

HM ID

FAR04

Favorite Season

Eid

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Birth Date

12/31/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Norfolk

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Death Date

9/12/2017

Short Description

Civic leader and imam Imam Vernon Fareed (1953 - 2017 ) was the distinguished leader of the Masjid William Salaam and has won many awards for his work in the community including the VCIC's Humanitarian Award in 2007.

Employment

Masjid William Salaam

Fareed's Fragrances

Naval Aviation Depot

Favorite Color

Earth Tones

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Imam Vernon Fareed's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Imam Vernon Fareed lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Imam Vernon Fareed talks about his paternal ancestor's service in the Revolutionary War

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Imam Vernon Fareed remembers his father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Imam Vernon Fareed talks about his father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Imam Vernon Fareed lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Imam Vernon Fareed remembers the Smallwood School in Norfolk, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Imam Vernon Fareed talks about his early influences

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Imam Vernon Fareed remembers his early religious education

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Imam Vernon Fareed recalls his frustration with the lack of black history curriculum

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Imam Vernon Fareed remembers his student government campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes his meeting with the superintendent of the Norfolk Public Schools

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Imam Vernon Fareed talks about his introduction to the Nation of Islam

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Imam Vernon Fareed recalls his early interest in business

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Imam Vernon Fareed remembers the desegregation of Matthew Fontaine Maury High School in Norfolk, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Imam Vernon Fareed recalls the street culture of his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Imam Vernon Fareed remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes his early career aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Imam Vernon Fareed recalls joining the Nation of Islam

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes his duties as a member of the Nation of Islam

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Imam Vernon Fareed talks about the transition of leadership in the Nation of Islam

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Imam Vernon Fareed talks about the story of Yakub

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Imam Vernon Fareed remembers the Nation of Islam's military hierarchy

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Imam Vernon Fareed talks about Minister Louis Farrakhan's revival of the Nation of Islam

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes his spiritual journey

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Imam Vernon Fareed talks about the spiritual guidance of Warith Deen Mohammed

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes how he became an imam

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Imam Vernon Fareed recalls his role in the development of the American mathhab

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Imam Vernon Fareed talks about his civic activities

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes his interfaith activism

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes his role on the FBI's multicultural advisory board

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Imam Vernon Fareed talks about radicalism in the Muslim American community, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Imam Vernon Fareed remembers meeting with international Muslim leaders

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Imam Vernon Fareed talks about radicalism in the Muslim American community, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Imam Vernon Fareed talks about his writing projects

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Imam Vernon Fareed remembers his pilgrimage to Mecca

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes his relationship with the Focolare Movement

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes his role as an international representative of the African American Muslim community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Imam Vernon Fareed reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Imam Vernon Fareed reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Imam Vernon Fareed talks about sharia law

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Imam Vernon Fareed describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

2$4

DATitle
Imam Vernon Fareed talks about his introduction to the Nation of Islam
Imam Vernon Fareed describes his interfaith activism
Transcript
Tell me this now, you're twelve years old, 1960 was this '5 [1965]? We're talking about?$$Yes, I was born in '53 [1953] so (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Fifty-three [1953] so six, sixty, yeah--$$Sixty--$$--seven [1967].$$No, sixty, sixty--$$Nineteen sixty--$$--sixty-five [1965].$$Sixty-five [1965].$$About '65 [1965].$$Okay.$$Nineteen sixty-five [1965].$$All right, okay. So, '65 [1965] now is a time period where a lot of Af- not only African Americans but people around the nation become more aware of the Nation of Islam.$$Um-hm.$$How aware were you of the Nation of Islam in '65 [1965]? Now, that was the year Malcolm X was assassinated. That was all over the news--$$Right.$$--and some years previously they had a CBS re- I think it was '61 [1961] or '62 [sic. 1959], Mike Wallace produced 'The Hate That Hate Produced' (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) 'Hate Produced,' right.$$--about the--$$Exactly.$$--Nation of Islam--$$Yeah.$$--which portrayed a basically negative light.$$Yes. Yeah, I was vaguely aware of the role of the Nation of Islam at that time. As I, as--in the, in the black neighborhoods at that time you had groups emerging, Nation of Islam, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [SNCC], they came along later on, you had the Black Panther Party, black liberation movement, you had all these different groups that were emerging to address oppression and racism, Jim Crow laws, et cetera. So just be, just living in the black community at that time you couldn't help but know something about these groups but I can't say that I was at that time familiar with their teachings. You know, it was a little later--a few years later where I became--and in, my first introduction really came from just guys in the neighborhood. Was a couple of guys, I don't, I don't want to call their names but there was a couple of guys that were in the neighborhood who were a little older than me but they were abreast, they knew, they were familiar with the teachings of the Nation of Islam and they would just stand around and just, you know, talk about those teachings, talk about the swine as you know especially black Muslims at that time--you didn't, one of the things you didn't do was eat pork. So, they would talk about the swine, the pork and really that's what stopped me from--that's when I stopped eating pork and I remember telling my mother [Minnie Burts Hood] that I didn't want to eat anymore pork. My mother was--I guess, because I was the baby boy she was very open to things that I wanted to do, whatever I wanted to do she was, she was kind of opened to it. And, so I--what I'm saying that she didn't say, "Boy, you're crazy, you lost your mind, you've been eating pork all your life." She didn't say any of that, you know; she just kind of went along with it. And, from that point on when she, when she prepared the food for the family she would prepare something separate for me, you know, like fish or chicken or something else, she would, she would so something separate for me.$$So, pork was a big part of what you all were eating most of the time.$$Yes.$$Okay.$$Yes, I mean, you know, family at that time that's what you ate, you know, a lot of. So, but after I had told her that I didn't want to eat anymore pork. Now at that time I wasn't a member of the Nation of Islam, I had just become influenced by those teachings.$$Now, what did they tell you about pork that made you want to not eat it (laughter)?$$(Laughter) Well the teaching at that time was that the swine was composed of three animals, rat, cat and dog, one third rat, one third cat and one third dog. And, I mean, it just talked about, you know, from the rooter to the tooter, you know, eating that, it just a lot of, a lot of jargon and, a lot of rhetoric and, you know, our minds were impressionable, you know, at that time and it had an effect on me to the point where I said, "I don't even want to eat it anymore of that," you know. So, I stopped eating it and as time went on, you know, I began to learn a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more about what the Honorable, Honorable Elijah Muhammad was teaching, may God forgive him his sins and give him paradise. What he was teaching and what that movement called Nation of Islam was all about and I eventually became a member of the Nation of Islam.$$Okay. Now, did you become a member in high school [Matthew Fontaine Maury High School, Norfolk, Virginia] or did you, or was it after?$$No, in 1972 I think it was, 19--around 1972 (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Okay. Let, le- let's--$$Nineteen seventy-three [1973].$Some years ago right after 9/11 [September 11, 2001], they had an interfaith group--they called together an interfaith group to have a, a big interfaith prayer service at the convention center downtown. I was the Muslim that they called, they asked to be a part of that organizing group--committee. We had a successful prayer service, interfaith prayer service, big event. I have on tap right now, this month a lot of speaking engagements. Every week we've been except well, I say one weekend we were without any invitations but every other weekend in this month, one coming up, one we just had last week at a twelve hundred member church in Virginia Beach [Virginia], Pastor Andy Meade's church, I can't recall the name of his church, Vineyard, Vineyard Community Church. On the 23rd of this month I'm scheduled to be with Pastor Michael Simone at Spring Branch Community Church [Virginia Beach, Virginia] and he has a large congregation about two thousand members and he and I have worked together on--through the years so it's not a new relationship, it's not like a onetime thing. He and I have been working together on things in the community for a number of years. And, so a few months ago he approached me and asked to interview me at his, for his service, his main service on Sunday. He has two services 'cause of the size of his congregation, one at nine [o'clock] and one at 11:15 I believe and the whole service, both services are going to be comprised of interviewing me about Islam, about our religion. It will be taped, there will be streaming, there will be recording, opportunities for people to call and ask questions et cetera. But one of the things that he wants to do with it he told me is that he wants to use it for his class because he teaches at Saint Leo's University [Saint Leo University, Saint Leo, Florida] and he teaches a class on world religions. And he interviewed a rabbi about five years ago, a rabbi whom I know about five years for the same purpose. And he uses the DVD recording from that to, for his students when it comes to Judaism he just gives them that video. So he has said that he would do that same thing--he wants to do the same thing with this. He wants to use what he learns from the interview that he conducts with us to share with his students in his class.

Mujahid Ramadan

Diversity and human relations consultant Imam Mujahid Ramadan was born November 17, 1951, on the outskirts of Lake Providence, Louisiana. Raised by his stepfather and his mother, Flenorte and Elizabeth Harris, Ramadan attended Carroll Elementary School in Louisiana. When his family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, Ramadan attended Kit Carson Elementary, J.D. Smith Junior High School, and graduated from Valley View High School in 1970. Ramadan was involved as a youth, in his church, as a youth member of the NAACP, and later as a member of the Black Panther Party. Ramadan attended Northeastern Oklahoma A & M Junior College, but dropped out and returned to Las Vegas. Ramadan worked at the West Side Boy’s Club where a hydrocephalic youngster named John “Bookie” Dorsey inspired him to return to school. Ramadan earned his B.A. degree in sociology from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas in 1976. He later became director of the West Side Boys Club.

Ramadan embraced Islam in 1975, took a Muslim name in 1981, and eventually became resident Imam of the Masjid As-Sabur in Las Vegas, Nevada, and vice-chair of the American Muslim Council (AMC). Ramadan served in the probation department of Clarke County Juvenile Services and became a policy advisor to the Las Vegas Police Department, Sheriff’s Department, and a number of elected officials including Senator Harry Reid. In 1989, Ramadan was appointed Nevada State Drug Policy Director by Governor Bill Miller. Ramadan was later appointed CEO of Nevada Partners Organization, Inc.; he also served as a national executive board member of the National Conference for Community and Justice.

Ramadan later became a member of the local interfaith council and developed a reputation for being an expert in diversity awareness training. Ramadan served as an advisor to the President’s Faith Community Initiative; a board member of the Inter-Faith Council for Workers Justice; a participant in the National Leadership Summit on Race Relations and America's Public Education System; and a trainer for the Justice Department Violent Crimes Program.

In 1983, Ramadan founded the diversity training firm, M.R. Consulting, later renamed Ramadan Ballard and Associates. Ramadan went on to serve as CEO of Ballard Communications, which he founded in 2001.

Accession Number

A2004.184

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/29/2004

Last Name

Ramadan

Schools

Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College

Carroll Elementary School

J.D. Smith Junior High School

Valley High School

Kit Carson International Academy

First Name

Mujahid

Birth City, State, Country

Lake Providence

HM ID

RAM01

Favorite Season

Ramadan

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York, New York

Favorite Quote

With Every Difficulty, There Is Relief.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nevada

Birth Date

11/17/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Las Vegas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Business consulting chief executive and imam Mujahid Ramadan (1951 - ) served as the resident Imam of the Masjid As-Sabur in Las Vegas, Nevada, and vice-chair of the American Muslim Council. In addition to holding these positions, Ramadan has been involved with several interfaith commissions, and has acted as an advisor on interfaith and diversity matters on the national level.

Employment

West Side Boys Club

Masjid As-Sabur - Las Vegas, Nevada

American Muslim Council (AMC)

Clarke County Juvenile Services

Las Vegas Police Department

Las Vegas Sheriff’s Department

Office of Senator Harry Reid

State of Nevada

Nevada Partners Organization, Inc.

Ramadan, Ballard and Associates

Ballard Communications

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mujahid Ramadan's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mujahid Ramadan lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mujahid Ramadan talks about Emmett Till and the Deacons for Defense and Justice

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his family's involvement in the Deacons for Defense and Justice

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mujahid Ramadan reflects upon the philosophy of nonviolence in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his mother's personality and profession

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his father and brother's deaths

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mujahid Ramadan recalls his childhood in Lake Providence, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mujahid Ramadan remembers his teachers at Carroll Elementary School in Lake Providence, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mujahid Ramadan describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his father's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his siblings and stepfather

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his stepfather's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mujahid Ramadan recalls growing up in segregated Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Mujahid Ramadan remembers the schools he attended in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Mujahid Ramadan reflects upon the differences between Nevada and Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mujahid Ramadan recalls his high school football coach, Overton Curtis

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his childhood influences

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mujahid Ramadan describes the African American community in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his experiences at Northeastern Oklahoma Junior College

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his literary interests and the Black Panther Party

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mujahid Ramadan remembers the Boys Club of Clark County in Nevada

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mujahid Ramadan recalls being hired at the Boys Club of Clark County

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mujahid Ramadan remembers the young men at the Boys Club of Clark County

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Mujahid Ramadan recalls meeting his wife, Sumayah Ramadan

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Mujahid Ramadan describes what attracted him to Islam

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his conversion to Islam

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his early uncertainties about Islam

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mujahid Ramadan describes reconciling his African American identity and Islamic beliefs

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mujahid Ramadan explains what his Islamic name means

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mujahid Ramadan explains the history of the Arabic language

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mujahid Ramadan reflects upon issues in Islam, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mujahid Ramadan reflects upon issues in Islam, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mujahid Ramadan describes schisms within the Nation of Islam and Warith Deen Mohammed

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mujahid Ramadan explains the difference between American Muslims and Arab Muslims, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mujahid Ramadan explains the difference between American Muslims and Arab Muslims, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mujahid Ramadan explains the difference between American Muslims and Arab Muslims, pt. 3

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mujahid Ramadan explains how he became a cultural diversity specialist

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mujahid Ramadan talks about spirituality versus religion

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his role as drug policy director for the State of Nevada

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his role at Nevada Partners

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his move from Nevada Partners to Ballard Communications

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Mujahid Ramadan describes the influx of African American professionals in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Mujahid Ramadan describes the different cultural experiences for minorities in America

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Mujahid Ramadan describes unique features of the African American experience, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Mujahid Ramadan describes unique features of the African American experience, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Mujahid Ramadan reflects upon the need to make America an inclusive nation

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Mujahid Ramadan reflects upon his life, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Mujahid Ramadan reflects upon his life, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Mujahid Ramadan reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Mujahid Ramadan describes his mother's response to his success

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Mujahid Ramadan describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

5$3

DATitle
Mujahid Ramadan describes his family's involvement in the Deacons for Defense and Justice
Mujahid Ramadan describes reconciling his African American identity and Islamic beliefs
Transcript
Maybe you can, if you can, I know the deacons [Deacons for Defense and Justice] have been written about, I don't think exhaustively or anything but they've been written since that, those days and there's a, there's an impression that they were, that some have written there were a whole lot of 'em, some have written that there weren't that many of 'em, but being an organization that wasn't really out in, you know all out in public anyway.$$No.$$And identified as, I mean what's your impression of--who were the--just for the record like who, what's your impression? Who were the deacons and how many do you think there were and how much did they do?$$Probably not a large, large number. I think they were very select because I, I knew some. Now I know that I can look back and see who were and they were a very small--some--very small group. I knew my father [Johnny Young (ph.)], my [maternal] grandfather and my father were, but very small and select. Most of them probably were religious men who were members of churches and who, who saw, they saw a different purview of you know not so much turn the other cheek. I think they saw that more spiritually and symbolically, but not so much in the physical sense of turn the other cheek. I think it was their religious and spiritual convictions that led them to being who they were and that feeling as though they had a right based on you know the law of God you know to defend and, and protect themselves. So I think that was a basic foundation to it, and, and probably I, I use to hear every now and then while sitting on the porch and hearing discussion about, "Well you know the white man in Louisiana was a different kind of white man," so he wasn't one who you could possibly interact with while, while many of them publicly had relationships with the, the transitional non-violence of Dr. King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.]. That wasn't something they could actually practice with everybody because they didn't think some people were accepting to that so they felt as though the best way to deal with them is the way they dealt, and, and because the, the Civil Rights Movement while it was visible but it never had a stronghold in Louisiana because Dr. King wouldn't come there because of the deacons, because of what they practiced or the way they approached things--I would say the way they would approach things that, that affected that, and it--I notice sitting around, it was only like sitting around on the front porch and hearing about it sometimes and then sometimes then be told to, "Get, get outta here boy ain't nobody talking to you," but being--I, I guess that maybe the fact that being that my name was Deacon I was privy to at least hearing so maybe at a certain stage in life I would remember you know what that was about.$$Yeah, there's a--well, I know there's, there've been rumors that the deacons had--were followed certain civil rights marches just to make sure that if anybody you know was fired upon that there'd be some kind of protection, you know available and that sort of thing, but I, I don't you know you hear a lot of stories but you never know what really.$$Well you never knew who they were, I mean you know I was just in a family that they were a part of but you never knew like knew publicly who they were and they, they were like shadows you know pretty much now that I look back on it and now that I look back and, and being in the audience with my grandfather sometimes I can look back and say, "Oh, okay, this person was and who wasn't," you know you could tell by the way they talked to one another. I remember language like, "How you doing pilgrim?" "Hey pilgrim, how you doing?" But he wouldn't call everybody pilgrim and there weren't you know and then the other--not everybody called him pilgrim back. The ones he called pilgrim they called him pilgrim. So I probably concluded that they were, they were in that group because it was just such a small portion of them that were like that and most of them were in church.$What did you think about the Nation of Islam or I know a lot of black people in the 19--early, late '60s [1960s] and '70s [1970s] especially young men admired Malcolm X.$$Yeah, um-hm.$$And--$$And we were, yeah we were swept up in that, but, but the Black Panther Party gave us perspective that, that was, that was in somewhat of an antithesis, they were antithesis of one another because in the Nation of Islam remember the black man was seen as a God, but the philosophy of the Black Panther Party is that oppression didn't have any color, you know it was more universal in its nature and I think that was legitimate there. Remember Malcolm spawned the Black Panther Party, so I had this thing with the Nation that okay, y'all say the white man is a devil but you know in the Black Panther Party I've read, I read more of a broader language than just the cultural language of the Nation of Islam. So I, I--that's why I didn't come into the Nation of Islam, I had some spiritual yearning, it was the just the problem of calling somebody a devil I had a problem with, and so then, so I didn't--but I remember though when I was a newspaper boy, I--one of the sergeants in the Fruit of Islam, I was--I threw papers to him and I remember sometimes we'd sit around he'd talk to me about the Nation of Islam and what it was about which I could appreciate, you know, the respect for family. He had two twin daughters, I won't forget that they were little girls and the respect he showed for his wife and then of course we knew about Malcolm, we knew about Muhammad Ali so that was very infectious at that point in time, but I just couldn't get--the hate part never did sit very well with and, and so that was it. Then I came--then I saw the sp--and I knew but I had all--I had heard of [HistoryMaker] McCoy Tyner and I had heard of a few people like a basketball player--Kareem Abdul-Jabbar obviously who was Ahmadiyya, but we just knew him as a Muslim. Walt Hazzard who had also converted to Islam I think right behind that Ahmad Rashad who I'm not sure if he's a practicing Muslim but he did choose a name and several others. So I knew there was something else that was out there and when I met this brother Abdul Rehman Bukhari I said okay, this is it. I, I remember the following spring I went down to Sea World and took my wife [Sumayah Ramadan] and daughter down there and I saw a basketball player from the Houston Rockets and he was dressed up like an Arab and I thought dang that seems to be an uncomfortable dress out here in Sea World but his wife was dressed with the veil and everything. And so even then as a Muslim, I didn't even, I didn't even introduce myself--no, I think we did. I gave him the greeting I said, "Assalam Alaikum," he said, "Wa Alaikum Assalam," but I was thinking--and one thing told me I'm not as good a Muslim as he is, but the other thing told me, I don't that's Islam, I think that's something else, and so my, my own deductive reasoning was telling me all the time. So I stayed aloof you know for five or seven years, didn't practice, but said I was a Muslim and then in about 19--I'm jumping ahead again, 1982 there was a--some people here who had been in the Nation of Islam who had somewhat successfully made a semi-transition to Islam proper, and they came to see me because I was the quote, unquote the only quote a Sunni Muslim that they had known maybe who lived here and I started interacting with them that's how I heard the teachings of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed and that's when I became comfortable with Islam. I understood that I can dress like this. I understood that I have my own diet, I have my own culture. I began to understand things like the U.S. Constitution gave me rights that Muslims did not have and that America really was more maybe the most Islamic country in the world. Now I really began to understand the freedom that we have here. I didn't become an American until after I became a Muslim and heard the teaching of Imam Mohammed, that's when I became an American.$$Now, yeah he did link the two and can you tell us how they--well, just give us your analysis how they link?$$Well, I, I remember hearing him make the observation. He said America he said, he'd always--he talked about that there's excellence in everything. There's excellence in everything, you just have to be able to see it. He says and the excellence that you see in America that you can vividly see is the, the freedom for everybody to reach their human potential. America will not restrict you in reaching your potential. If you, even if you want to be a savage, America will allow you the freedom of being the biggest savage that you wanna be, but if you want to reach the pinnacle of excellence that God has ordained for you, America also gives you that. So he says, and we can see now that Islam is the fuel and America is the car that you put the fuel in to make it drive. And America has--that's the excellence that's in America that you won't find anywhere in the, in the Muslim world, you will not find it anywhere in America. So he, he was able to make the connection but also through making the connection I think he revealed to many of us if we come through the door of Islam and not Arab culture, we will come through the door of America, and so many of us that's what we've done. We, we couldn't come into America unless we came in for us. I mean I'm not saying others can't, but we could not enter into America unless we'd come through the door of Islam. And so he--that opened up the, probably was after that I really began to see you know Islam in the scope of a social active movement. I was saying to some friends of mine who are in a religious labor organization in Chicago [Illinois], I was speaking there and Kim Bobo asked me, she said, "Ramadan [HistoryMaker Mujahid Ramadan] what about being a Muslim?" I said, "Islam really is the natural progression of the Civil Rights Movement, Islam and America is the natural progression of the Civil Rights Movement, i.e. we go from civil rights to human rights." So we become advocates now for the, for the big picture, not just for the rights of African American people or the right of women, the rights of all the poor, the rights of all children, the rights of the disenfranchised, the rights of the prison inmate, and then also then you begin to see the connection between Islam, Christianity and Judaism so it, it that, that has been just monumental. It just so happens that I have the luxury of being in the city that I, the town that I grew up in so it adds, it adds another dimension to my life that say for instance this dimension kind of sets me aside from the people I grew up with and that becomes--because I've been Mujahid Ramadan now for--matter-of-fact if you go ahead my mention my name most people won't remember what my name was and if somebody remember it they'll say, all right so they've known me for over thirty years, but I'm the guy who grew up here then converted to Islam and changed his name.