Louis Farrakhan Fast Facts
Here’s a look at the life of Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam.
Birth date: May 11, 1933
Birth place: The Bronx, New York
Birth name: Louis Eugene Walcott
Father: Percival Clark
Mother: Sarah Mae (Manning) Clark
Marriage: Betsy (Ross) Walcott (September 12, 1953-present); She has since changed her name to Khadijah Farrakhan.
Children: four sons: Mustapha, Joshua Nasir, Abnar and Louis Junior; and five daughters: Donna, Hanan, Maria, Fatimah and Khallada
Education: Attended Winston-Salem Teachers College, 1951-1953
Farrakhan was named for Louis Walcott, the man his mother became involved with after his biological father, Percival Clark, deserted them.
The Walcott family moved from the Bronx to the Roxbury neighborhood in Boston during the mid-1930s.
He won a track scholarship to college in North Carolina.
Farrakhan is an accomplished classical violinist who began playing at the age of 5. He is also a singer, songwriter, playwright and film producer. Farrakhan wrote two plays, “The Trial” and “Orgena.” (“A Negro” spelled backward).
Farrakhan is known for having preached anti-Semitic, anti-white, anti-Catholic and anti-homosexual rhetoric.
1955 – Joins the Nation of Islam (NOI) and adopts the name Louis X.
December 4, 1964 – Condemns rival Malcolm X in the NOI newspaper, Muhammad Speaks, saying “the die is set and Malcolm shall not escape… such a man is worthy of death.”
February 21, 1965 – Malcolm X is assassinated. Louis X replaces him as the national spokesman of the NOI.
Late 1960s – Louis X takes the name Louis Abdul Farrakhan.
Late 1970s – Farrakhan has a falling out with NOI leader, Wallace Deen Muhammad, who wants to move the NOI away from racial separatist teachings to a more conventional and racially inclusive Islam. The dispute leads to the formation of two rival groups. Farrakhan becomes head of the NOI while Muhammad becomes the head of the World Community of al-Islam.
1984 – Supports Jesse Jackson’s bid for the presidency; threatens the life of Washington Post reporter Milton Coleman for printing Jackson’s remark about “Hymietown.”
June 24, 1984 – Claims Judaism is a “gutter religion” and supporters of Israel are criminals in the sight of God.
May 1, 1985 – Announces acceptance of a $5 million interest-free loan from Libyan president Moammar Gadhafi.
June 25, 1986 – Files a lawsuit against President Ronald Reagan, Secretary of State George Schultz, Secretary of Treasury James Baker and Attorney General Edwin Meese, claiming the government’s economic sanctions against Libya and travel ban violates Farrakhan’s freedom to worship and freedom of speech.
June 3, 1987 – Lawsuit is terminated after a district court judge upholds economic sanctions against Libya and prevents the repayment of the $5 million loan.
1991 – Receives first prostate cancer diagnosis.
October 16, 1995 – Organizes the Million Man March, also known as the Day of Atonement, on the Mall in Washington. The event features 12 hours of speeches on the commitment of black men to take responsibility for improving themselves, their families and communities.
April 1999 – Prostate cancer re-occurrence requires emergency surgery at Howard University.
February 25, 2000 – Farrakhan makes peace with former NOI leader, Wallace Deen Muhammad, who formed his own Islamic group in the wake of a dispute with Farrakhan on the direction of NOI. The men announce the unification of their groups during an event called the Savior’s Day Rally.
May 10, 2000 – Appears on “60 Minutes” with Malcolm X’s daughter, Qubilah Bahiyah Shabazz, and says he regrets that his writing may have influenced others to assassinate Malcolm X.
October 15, 2005 – Organizes and speaks at the Million More Movement at the Mall in Washington, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March.
September 22, 2006 – Releases a letter stating he is giving up many day-to-day duties as leader of the NOI due to illness, but will remain its leader.
January 6-30, 2007 – Farrakhan undergoes a successful 12-hour surgery to remove his prostate and cancerous colon tissue.
February 25, 2007 – In what is billed as a farewell speech, Farrakhan calls for peace and unity between all religions of the world.
October 10, 2015 – Farrakhan speaks at the Justice or Else rally in Washington, marking the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.
February 11, 2016 – Farrakhan speaks at a Tehran, Iran, rally marking the 37th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic revolution.