Muhammad Speaks

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Although there is a conflicting account from the Nation of Islam, it is widely accepted that Malcolm X founded the weekly periodical Muhammad Speaks, whose first issue was published in 1961.The periodical was independent, even of advertisers (it is worth noting that Muslim-owned businesses were frequent advertisers in the Black press). As the newspaper of the Nation of Islam, the organ focused on general news of Muslim interest, including articles relevant to the Black community. The publication also featured national and international news, including coverage of Africa and the Muslim world. For years Muhammad Speaks remained one of the most widely read Black newspapers, presenting urban Blacks with news from those "colored" regions of the world when the content of many Black publications was more provincial. The paper also expressed some of the more progressive views of the Nation. Indeed, the progressive slant of the editorials often lay in contrast to the conservatism of the Nation itself. Muhammad Speaks grew out of the columns by Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad that ran in other Black newspapers such as the Pittsburgh Courier (which carried "Mr. Muhammad Speaks") and the Amsterdam News (which carried Malcolm's "God's Angry Men" and later Mr. Muhammad's "The Islam World"). Malcolm understood early the impact a newspaper could have, and Elijah Muhammad saw that periodicals were a great vehicle for the "re-education" of Black men and women "into the knowledge of self." The papers that carried the columns in return were distributed by the Nation, which helped boost the circulation of the Black press in this way. Muhammad Speaks became the calling card for the Nation among Black urban communities. The image of Muslim men peddling the weekly from street corners was among the most powerful and lasting symbols of the organization.