Playing the role that someone has set forth for you is easy, however writing your own story is a much harder task. Often within the black community we look for leadership in trivial areas of interest or in the wrong places all together. However there are a scarce amount of individuals who embody what a role model should really be. The black male that I interviewed is Darryl Muhammad. What struck me strongest about Darryl Muhammad is his genuine belief in uplifting the community as a base of overall change for all of our endeavors. He doesn’t do community service as a resume builder, this is an everyday real life struggle for him.
Brother Muhammad was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania December 16, 1962. Growing up in single parent home he lived with his mother, one older sister, and three younger brothers. His mother worked for the department of mental health at the University of Pennsylvania while attending college. Brother Muhammad’s mother and father broke up and no longer lived together. Although he only cohabitated with his grandfather once for a small period of time, his grandfather was instrumental in raising him. Brother Muhammad holds his grandfather in high regard and explained how much he respected him and valued his opinion.
“I didn’t have a hard childhood,” said Brother Muhammad. Growing up he can recall only moving about twice within the same neighborhood that he already lived in. His family moved from a three-bedroom home, to a two-bedroom home, then once more too another two-bedroom home. Brother Muhammad said that he kept the same friends that he always had. “I didn’t fit in so well, like there was something else I should be,” said Brother Muhammad. His mother and sister shared one bedroom while he shared the other bedroom with his younger siblings. Brought up in a Christian home Brother Muhammad attended Sunday school and church regularly on Sundays.
Dissatisfied with the living conditions at home Brother Muhammad decided that he needed a change in his life. He decided to join the United States Navy. At the time of this life altering decision Brother Muhammad was only 16-years-old. Under the legal age to enter the military he lied on his application with hopes of leaving Philadelphia as soon as possible. Brother Muhammad’s plan was well underway and he began processing into the Navy. His momentum came to an abrupt holt when he was asked to produce a birth certificate. At this point Brother Muhammad found out two things. One was that he would need to wait until he was 17-years-old to get into the Navy. The second was that the man whom he thought was his father was not his father at all. His real father was killed in a car crash at the age of 26. He doesn’t know that side of his family, where they are, or even what they look like.
Once Brother Muhammad turned 17 with his mother’s permission he was allowed to finally enter into the Navy. While in the Navy he worked in aviation and traveled to places such as the Philippines, Japan, San Diego, and Great Lakes Il. During his active duty military service Brother Muhammad also earned a Business/Administration degree from Chapman University, got married and converted to the Nation of Islam. Discharged from the Navy via Lemoore Naval Station, Brother Muhammad decided to stay in the area embracing his wife’s hometown of Fresno California.
“I was a community activist as soon as I got here,” said Brother Muhammad. “The Honorable Louis Farrakhan said that it was my duty to share knowledge and make the community a decent place to live.” As a community activist Brother Muhammad facilitated the New Millennium Black Watch radio show, he is the current economic chair for the Black Political Council, and is currently in the planning phase of starting a financial literary course. Brother Muhammad said the community is all tore up because there are not enough community activists. He feels the key element to uplifting the community to a place of prosperity is unity.
The Merriam-dictionary defines community as a unified body of individuals. “We don’t even have a community,” said Brother Muhammad. “My primary role is to find a way to create the kind of community we need.” Brother Muhammad is a Student Minister in the Nation of Islam. All ministers in the Nation of Islam are referred to as “Student Ministers”. The concept behind the title is that even as a “minister” they are still students, growing, qualifying and learning every day. It’s his religious and personal position that the black community must help itself in order for blacks to thrive. Brother Muhammad said that the Honorable Louis Farrakhan says “that you must help self first”.
“Think about when someone tries out for a football team,” said Brother Muhammad. “You must be able to handle your position before you can help the rest of the team.” Brother Muhammad said that the black community needs to marshal their resources together because there is not one person out there that has all of the answers. It is his strong belief that the problems addressing the black community will be solved from the inside not the outside. “If we continue on our current path we will always be freed slaves,” said Brother Muhammad. “We need to stop asking business how many black people they hired. We need to feed, clothe and shelter ourselves, not beg at the door of the man who freed you. Then people will see us as civilized human beings.”
Brother Muhammad sales editions of the “Final Call” newspaper every week as a way to propagate the truth and his religion. The “Final Call” was founded by Louis Farrakhan. The newspaper is an official part of the Nation of Islam. It is distributed once a week in North America, Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. Although he sales the paper on a weekly bases he has no intentions of gaining a profit. “Selling the paper removes the fear of interacting with people,” said Brother Muhammad. “Black people are scared to interact with one another because we have become savages. Although the main point of the paper is to get the word out, selling the paper also builds character, a sense of aim and purpose.”
In addition to being a community activist, Nation of Islam Student Minister, and business owner, Brother Muhammad is a foster-parent. He adopted four children, one of which currently has a child of their own making him a grandfather. “There was a need for it,” said Brother Muhammad. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Education at Phoenix University. In addition to furthering his education he also owns a day care center, and is pursuing agriculture business ventures.
The Black Male Elder Recognition Project was to document a figure who we thought embodied a different type of masculinity then what we see or hear in pop culture. I think that Brother Darryl Muhammad is a pillar to the community. It seems as if he is one of the last of a dying breed which has left the black community in its current state of affairs.