The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon

Search Results

Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

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

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Interview Description
Birth Date

12/31/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Norfolk

Country

USA

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
0,0:10437,184:14821,236:17150,254:22596,414:39610,694:40046,699:52595,983:66019,1139:68611,1173:69178,1181:69988,1192:70960,1205:88632,1441:89298,1455:95810,1570:100710,1589:104738,1657:106334,1690:106714,1696:112566,1805:121180,1887:125680,1954:126955,2014:127255,2019:127630,2025:135432,2091:135708,2096:140262,2226:151120,2348:151760,2395:157938,2453:163746,2515:164186,2547:177280,2751:177770,2761:182880,2874:184560,2909:191660,2991:210910,3363:211594,3414:215698,3492:216306,3506:227215,3712:229510,3800:246716,4005:261602,4221:262515,4234:277180,4387:277540,4392:288280,4615$0,0:4684,89:6576,128:19160,266:19464,271:28128,421:42652,599:42980,604:52574,732:66732,854:67546,868:68212,878:70095,925:93968,1262:95462,1280:96126,1291:125844,1792:142830,2029:143178,2034:156548,2224:164890,2323
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.