The Nation of Islam and other black nationalist groups are typically known for their male leaders. Men like the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Minister...

The Nation of Islam and other black nationalist groups are typically known for their male leaders. Men like the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Minister Malcolm X or Martin Delany and Marcus Garvey are notable examples. But what about the work of black women in these groups? Ula Yvette Taylor’s new book, The Promise of Patriarchy: Women and the Nation of Islam (University of North Carolina Press, 2017), expands our knowledge of the role of black women from the Depression-era development of Allah Temple of Islam in Detroit to the formal group known as the Nation of Islam that expanded under the leadership in the 1960s and 1970s of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Women like Clara Muhammad, Burnsteen Sharrieff, and Thelma X Muhammad were essential to the development of the Nation of Islam’s goal of creating a black nation within the American nation. The Promise of Patriarchy shows how black women created notions of black womanhood and black motherhood that best helped them deal with the daily indignities of living in Jim Crow America.

Ula Yvette Taylor is Professor and H. Michael and Jeanne Williams Department Chair in the African American Studies and African Diaspora Studies at University of California, Berkeley.


Adam X. McNeil is a graduating M.A. in History student at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, and received his Undergraduate History degree at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University University in 2015.

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