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This chapter describes the numerous transformations that the Nation of Islam underwent in the late 1940s and 1950s that allowed for the group to experience a significant revival. It is argued that key among these transformations were the Nation’s emphasis on spreading its message to prisoners, ‘street people,’ and former black nationalists; its downplaying some of the now less-popular black folk themes and simultaneously putting more emphasis on the badman/white devil dichotomy; its making effective use of mass media and instituting popular economic and educational programs; and its acquiring the extremely charismatic Malcolm X, who was responsible for drawing in hundreds of converts and starting temples across the country. This chapter discusses when possible the founding of each of the Nation’s new temples during this period, as well as evidence concerning the demographics and recruitment of new members, many of whom appear to have joined through family ties.

A History of Conversion to Islam in the United States, Volume 2

The African American Islamic Renaissance, 1920-1975