A tale of the rise of a Black Muslim leader, the death of a newspaper editor and the history of the Black Muslim Movement.
In his debut, investigative journalist Peele attempts to trace the winding roots of the Black Muslim Movement. Beginning with Nation of Islam founder W.D. Fard, the author moves quickly to the better known Elijah Muhammad before eventually settling on his primary focus, Yusuf Ali Bey, a former barber and Nation of Islam member who recognized the financial benefits that came from his rising power. In the early 1970s, Bey formed a splinter group from the Nation of Islam, solidifying his base in an Oakland bakery while profiting from both his business and his followers. Yet Bey’s radical teachings against the so-called “white devil” seemed at odds with his business practices, in which he regularly sold his products to whites. “Bey was hungry for wealth, and if he got it by selling to the devil, so what?” writes Peele. “In that sense the only color that mattered to him was that of money.” For Bey, greed quickly overshadowed orthodoxy, though money wasn’t all he was after. The smooth-talking leader also demanded his female followers “submit themselves completely to him,” a teaching that allowed him to rape and molest dozens. After Bey’s death, his son, Yusuf Ali Bey IV—better known as “Fourth”—eventually took control, ruling with his father’s violent tactics. After newspaper editor Chauncey Bailey reported on Fourth and his followers, Fourth put a hit out on the journalist’s life. In August of 2007, Bailey became a casualty of his story, dying at the hands of a Black Muslim assassin.
A complex, carefully constructed story of the development of the Black Muslim Movement and one of its most notorious leaders.