Theology Thursdays: Q & A With Minister Lucius Bey Re: The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan And The Nation Of Islam (Part I)
In recorded history, regardless to era, civilization, or generation there ultimately should not exist much that is valued more than an eyewitness of significant persons, events and institutions. Although human value systems in a culture usually fluctuate, or are altered, eventually evolve or decay; the successful process of the maintenance and growth of the life of a culture does not occur without truth, accuracy, and a respect for history and posterity. The present circumstances and future of a people are inevitably affected by what has taken place in the past; how facts are recorded and remembered; and how facts are interpreted .
In the 1930s the Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote, “Of all our studies history is the most attractive and best qualified to reward our research, as it develops the springs and motives of human actions and displays the consequences of circumstances which operates most powerfully on the destinies of human beings.” Many to this very day, inaccurately attribute that quote to others.
We simply cannot get a completely accurate rendering of history without people and in particular, those special people who are eyewitnesses to the most significant, influential and consequential of persons, events and institutions.
Such a person is Minister Lucius Bey.
How many people in Sandersville, Georgia, or any part of the United States were aware of the significance of the birth of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad celebrated today, October 7, 2004, when it occurred one hundred and seven years ago (107)? It is very difficult, actually impossible to argue or prove that there would have been a Muhammad Ali, Minister Malcolm X, Imam Warith Deen Mohammad, or Minister Louis Farrakhan or Nation Of Islam without the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The significance of the aforementioned human beings, all students of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, in and of itself bears witness to the significance of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, although historians, journalists, and authors consistently write the leader of the Nation Of Islam out of their historical accounts and narratives for one reason or another.
I have personally witnessed the worst kind of intellectual dishonesty among the authors of many books and scholarly articles that are presented as authoritative references on the Nation Of Islam, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad or Minister Louis Farrakhan. While some writers have made honest and unintentional mistakes, I have personally met with several authors of said books and articles and have been struck by their willful ignorance, omission and avoidance of facts, sources, and living eyewitnesses that could have greatly improved the accuracy of their completed works.
For example, in 1997, I spoke, for over three hours, to an author of a widely-disseminated book, that to this day is held by publishers, journalists and opinion leaders as a definitive reference book about the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. I asked this author the following question: “Do you think it is possible that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan knows more about the Honorable Elijah Muhammad than you do?” This author paused for a few seconds and firmly answered ‘No.’ He based his perceived or relative expertise on his subject on his belief that he had “read everything ever written by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad”.
In another instance, in that same year, I visited the home of an author of a widely disseminated book, that to this day is held by publishers and journalists as a definitive reference book about the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. On this author’s own videotape recorder in his own den, I played him a copy of a speech that Minister Farrakhan made which this author misquotes and mixes up with other speeches and falsehoods in the partial transcript - supposedly of this particular speech - that he includes in his book. Afterward the author threw his hands in the air and stated ‘You got me, are you happy?” I then asked him whether or not he felt an obligation or a responsibility to acknowledge or correct his error or mistake in future editions printed and published of his book. He said, “No, not necessarily”.
That same year I had the wonderful experience of meeting with, interviewing and having dinner in New York City with an author of another widely disseminated book about the Nation Of Islam. In my humble opinion this author did an excellent job researching his subject and produced a book that in many respects is very good.
One day I look forward to exposing these three examples and more that I and others are aware of. They are indicative of a critical crisis that plagues and corrupts this world, but the United States of America in particular.
Thus, only in part - in the context of a discussion of the significance of witness testimony - lies the value, in my view, of Minister Lucius Bey.
Born in 1913, Minister Bey has been referred to as “The Dean” of all of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s Ministers in the Nation of Islam. Minister Lucius Bey was already held in this high regard when Minister Louis Farrakhan entered the Nation Of Islam in 1955. And after Malcolm X was released from prison in 1952, it was Minister Lucius Bey who was the first person who opened the door to the home of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and greeted Brother Malcolm upon the future Minister’s first meeting with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. For years, Minister Lucius Bey lived in the home of the leader of the Nation Of Islam, Elijah Muhammad.
He is a special witness indeed.
On September 22, 2004 and again in discussions on October 5th and 6th, 2004, BlackElectorate.com Publisher Cedric Muhammad spoke with the 91-year old Minister Lucius Bey about his experience in the Nation Of Islam and his relationship with and view of both the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, among other topics. What follows, to be run in two parts are only portions and excerpts of the interview and conversations conducted on September 22nd, October 5th and 6th with Minister Lucius Bey, which spanned a combined time of over five hours in length.
We hope and pray that all of the BlackElectorate.com viewers will benefit from what is published.
October 6, 2004
Cedric Muhammad: As-Salaam-Alaikum Brother Minister.
Minister Lucius Bey: Wa-Laikum Salaam.
Cedric Muhammad: Brother Minister, when did you hear the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and when did you join the Nation of Islam as a registered Believer?
Minister Lucius Bey: Well, I do not have a written record of this, and I am speaking to the best of my memory. I wish I could sit down and pull a lot of things together to give you a complete answer. I believe I first heard the teachings of Islam from a Brother somewhere in the 1930s, during the winter. If I recall correctly I became a registered Muslim within three years or so after the very first time I heard the teachings. I do know for sure it was a Brother by the name of Lester X I heard teach. He was a very dedicated Brother. We were standing on the corner. At this time I was Bible teaching in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and he was teaching about Yakub and his history. He was saying things about which I was deeply concerned but I never did argue or dispute in a negative way, of things that I didn’t know or didn’t understand or never heard. So I stood by him and when the opportunity presented itself I asked him, “what denomination are you?” as we would always ask those kinds of questions. And he told me about Islam and the Messenger Elijah Muhammad. And I said, “where do you all meet?” and he told me. And everyday I was out there to listen to him teach - every morning I would listen to him teach. I never disputed. I never had a negative (thought) against anything pertaining to the teaching of Islam although I didn’t know all about it. But I had studied. I was a person that studied. I had studied the Bible, I had studied the history of the Black church in America. I had studied the history of all of the different founders of the Baptist, Methodist, and the Sanctified (churches). I had studied the history of all of those, so I was kind of open to learn. So, finally I visited the teaching and I was attracted to it. They didn’t have a decent place at this time.
Cedric Muhammad: Where was this Brother Minister?
Minister Lucius Bey: This was 31st Street. Well the first time I visited it was on the South Side of Chicago… It was in kind of a hall, upstairs on the second floor. I actually registered (in the Nation Of Islam) there. And I think the Minister who was teaching was Minister Sultan Muhammad or Marcellus Jordon and I was interested, so I joined. Sultan Muhammad was an outstanding Minister. He even looked after the family of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad when the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was gone.
At that time, as you know, it was the Depression. And the poor people would go and pick up stuff, left in the street – food and vegetables. It was good quality but the condition of the people was very poor. And Minister Sultan would go and gather things to help feed the Messenger’s family. You have to deeply consider that Master Fard Muhammad came at a time when our people were in bad shape. And he came to Detroit, an area that was very poor. Master Fard Muhammad came at that time when our people were in that kind of condition.
I wrote two letters [form letters necessary in the process of becoming a registered member of the Nation Of Islam]. The first one didn’t pass but the second one passed. Now, I was to go to New York, in the Bronx, and make a lecture, and after I had registered, I went on to New York. But Islam was in my mind. I made a lecture there, I think I stayed there about a week and I came back. And at this time we were meeting in the 29th block in an old garage. We didn’t have nothing decent. (We were) in a dirt floor, we didn’t have decent seats or nothing, but everybody was interested and I was interested and I sat there and I heard the teaching… So I went back to New York, I’m still working. So then a Brother told me, he said, ‘Our leader’ (would be speaking). They referred to him (the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) then as ‘prophet’. He said, ‘he’ll be here Sunday’, I said, ‘Well I’ll be there.’ So that Sunday, I was there - first time I ever saw him - and I …was sitting there, ‘cause everybody was very faithful - they didn’t wait (for those who were late or to start the meetings) Brother, around 2 o’clock, 1 o’clock, they were there in those days.
So when he (the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) came out, I heard somebody say, ‘Attention!’ I jumped around and said, ‘what’s goin’ on here?’ and he walked in, walked right down, skipped up on (the speaker’s place) and started, and I kept my eye and my ear open – my mind, everything. I didn’t want to hardly bat an eye. So when he was through (speaking) in those days nobody left out without shaking his hand. Sisters would line up and shake his hand and Brothers – they would be on this side shaking his hand. So when I shook his hand I said, ‘I enjoyed you’. He said, ‘Thank you Brother'. So I walked out. That was the first time I saw him and the first time I heard him. So the second Sunday I was there (again). And I walked up, shook his hand, and I said, ‘I enjoyed you today’. He said, ‘Thank You Brother’. On my way out I started inquiring (about) how I could talk with him. I said, ‘How could I speak to the leader?’ So one of his sons said, ‘That’s my father’. I said, ‘well I would like to speak with him.’ I said, ‘how can I speak with him, is there anyway I can contact him?’ He said, ‘I’ll give you his phone number.’ He wasn’t staying on Woodlawn (Avenue) then.
Cedric Muhammad: So he (the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s son) gave you the telephone number?
Minister Lucius Bey: Oh yes he gave it to me. So I called him that Sunday – that second Sunday I saw him or heard him I called him. I said, ‘My name is Lucius. I’m a Minister. I’m a Mason. I used to teach classes in the Masonic Order.’ I said, ‘I’d like to talk with you. He said, ‘Well Brother, when?’ I said, ‘Anytime you say so.’ He said, ‘What about Wednesday?’ I said ‘It’s good.’ He said, ‘Could you be here and have soup? He meant ‘soup’ or have dinner with him. I said, ‘Yes Sir, I can be there.’ He said, ‘You married?’ I said ‘Yes Sir’. He said, ‘Bring your wife.’ So that Wednesday, following the second time I saw him or heard him, I’m sitting at his table eating dinner with him. So when I walked in the house, he was sitting in the living room with one of his sons. He put him out. And my wife went on in the kitchen with Sister Clara Muhammad. And no one was in that room but me and him. And I was sitting kind of in front of him. And he was sitting as he always sits straight with his hand you know (Minister Bey motions to describes how the Honorable Elijah Muhammad sat). And he said, ‘Do you want to see me?’ and I said, ‘Yes, Sir I want to see you.’ I said, ‘I’d like to ask you a couple of questions.’ He said ‘Brother, ask me whatever you like’ I said, ‘They tell me that you are a prophet.’ I said, ‘Are you a prophet?’ He says, ‘I am the Messenger of Allah’. That was his answer. And it looked like to me, if he had given me anything else, I probably would have questioned him. I said, ‘OK, now they tell me that you talked with God.’ He kind of bowed his head. I said, ‘I want to know, are you sure (that) whoever you talked to was God?’ He said, ‘Brother, He made me all into Himself.’ Every answer he gave me it just looked like it was the right answer in my mind. I said ‘OK’. I said, ‘Now let me ask you another question’. (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad says) ‘Go ahead’. I said, ‘I would like for you to explain St. John.’ He says, ‘What part?’ I said, ‘The first chapter. He didn’t move his hand, didn’t ask for a book or nothing. I said, ‘Start at the first verse of St. John, the first chapter. He started. He explained it and got down to about the third verse, I think, or the fourth, somewhere in that area. I said, ‘That’s enough’. He looked at me and said, ‘You can understand can’t ‘ya? I said, ‘Yes Sir’. He said, ‘Do you have any other questions?’ I said, ‘No Sir’. I asked him three questions and if he’d have answered any other way I probably would have cross-examined him. His answers just registered, just looked like it was the right answer. He said, ‘You don’t have any other questions?’ I said, ‘No Sir, not now.’ He said, ‘Well if you don’t have any questions for me, I have one for you.’ I said, ‘Yes Sir’. He asked me, he said, ‘What is Ether?' I studied a while, I said, ‘rarefied air’. He smiled. He didn’t say I was right. He didn’t say I was wrong. I didn’t ask him. That was the only three questions I asked him then, and I still got them in mind. And I will tell anybody that I met a lot of preachers, big ones, little ones, so-called educated ones, those who had degrees. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was the wisest man in religion and in real life, and thinking that I ever met.
Cedric Muhammad: So, after you met the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, how did your relationship evolve from that first meeting?
Minister Lucius Bey:: Well I told him then, I says, ‘You know something?’ He says, ‘What?’ I said, ‘You got a follower’. He said, ‘I wish I had 17 million’. I said, ‘You got one’. So as I came out every night – he only would come out on Sunday – the Minister he had then …a young Brother, a good speaker was teaching. And his custom was that he would call or open up for Brothers to have a testimony or have a word to say. But I never did push myself, I never did get up. So he looked out one Wednesday night, he said, ‘We’ve got a Brother here who was a minister. Brother Lucius!’ I said, ‘Yes Sir’. He said, ‘Stand up come up here. Say something talk. So I said a few words and I went and sat down. And after our meeting was over they all gathered in the aisle wanting me to be the Minister. And I didn’t like that talk. I didn’t like their attitude, ‘we want you for our Minister, we want you for our Minister…’ I said, ‘You’ve got one.’ So I kind of pushed them aside and walked out, ‘cause I didn’t like the attitude. So I never did get up anymore, and volunteer. I never would volunteer. So he would call me, ‘Brother come on up here and say something, everybody like how you talk.’ Well I would say a word so then they started reporting me to the Messenger but I would never volunteer to get up. I would never push for nothing. They start reporting me, now I don’t know it at this time so one Sunday the Honorable Elijah Muhammad came out and said, ‘They tell me I got a Brother here that can teach. Where is this Lucius?’ I was sitting in about the third seat. I held up my hand. He said, ‘Come up here.’ I walked up there. He said, ‘Sit down behind me.’ So I sat down. He turned to the audience and said, ‘They tell me this Brother can teach. I want to hear him today for myself.’ He said, ‘Come here Brother. Talk long as you wanna’.’ So I guess I talked for about 10, 15, 20 minutes. And (the subject that) came to me to talk on was why I left the church.
Cedric Muhammad: That was your subject?
Minister Lucius Bey: That was it, “Why I Left The Church”. When I got through I shook his hand and went to walk and he said, ‘Come back up here’. I turned around. He said, ‘Sit down behind me’. I sat down. He turned and looked at the people and said, ‘This Brother will never sit out there again. Whenever he comes here this is his seat right here.’ He looked at me and he said, ‘Brother, don’t you ever sit out here again. You sit up here and help this Brother teach’. So he told the Brother that was his assistant, ‘If you speak Wednesday, he speaks Friday, and whenever he speaks he’s going to be able to help you teach. If I don’t come out on Sunday, you speak one Sunday, he speaks the next.’
Of course he (the Assistant Minister) didn’t follow that. I didn’t say nothing. I always sat there. I never was aggressive I would just sit there. So the Messenger then, it wasn’t long, maybe two or three months, the Brother left, I think the Messenger sent him (away), and I became his Minister just like that. And when I started teaching back in those days, I taught everything in the Lessons from the Bible. Every subject: the coming of Master Fard Muhammad from the Bible; the making of the enemy or Yakub, from the Bible; the history of Jesus from the Bible; the grafting, from the Bible; everything I taught from the Bible. At this time he didn’t allow a Minister to carry, you didn’t see no Ministers carrying a Bible.
Cedric Muhammad: Now what year was this around Sir?
Minister Lucius Bey: What year did he get out of prison?
Cedric Muhammad: 1946, Sir. [In more detail, in This Is The One, Minister Jabril Muhammad includes the actual date, August 26, 1946, that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was released from Federal prison. Although the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was past the age group of men being drafted to fight in World War II, the U.S. government broke its own law in order to get him out of the public. This Is The One contains valuable biographic information about the Honorable Elijah Muhammad given to the author, Jabril Muhammad, directly from the leader of the Nation Of Islam.]
Minister Lucius Bey: Well then, I would say in 1947 I was made his Minister. And I would teach everything, I could handle it and I was the only one that taught from the Bible at this time. And after that then they started using it. So then they put it out that I was teaching mixed instructions. They reported me to him. I don’t know this at this point. They said, ‘he’s teaching mixed instructions.’…
Cedric Muhammad:...because you were using the Bible?
Minister Lucius Bey: Because of how I could use it. So he came out one Sunday and I didn’t know it. In fact about it he waited until I was about to dismiss. I talked to 4 o’clock, from 2. And just about the time I was going to dismiss, he had sneaked in and the way the (speaker’s area) was, there was a little partition. He had sat as close to me, perhaps as I am to you, but I didn’t know it. And when I got ready to dismiss, it kind of got me [Minister Bey was surprised] – he walked out (into view) and then he said , after I introduced him, ‘Y’all have been telling me - I’ve been getting reports that my Minister is teaching mixed instructions. My minister is not teaching mixed instructions, you all just don’t understand.’ And at this time he was to speak at Gary, Indiana. Flyers were cut, everything was put all around for him to speak at a place, I believe… He was living out on 60-something so I got up that morning and I came out early, rang the doorbell. He come to the door. I wasn’t living with him then and I says, ‘I come to go with you.’ He says, ‘Go with me where?’ I said, ‘You are speaking in Gary, Indiana’. He says, ‘I’m not going.’ I said, ‘You are not going?’ He said, ‘No Brother I am not going.’ I said, ‘Who’s going to speak?’ He said ‘You'. I said, ‘Me?’ He said ‘Yes, you.' I said, ‘What am I going to say?’ (He said) ‘What I taught you’. So I went and spoke. He told me what was going to happen and what I was going to say.
And following this, after they had got his place ready, he told me before, it was on Woodlawn (Avenue), the second house from the corner. He said, 'I want you and your wife to stay with me.' I stayed in the house before he did, with his family. His room was the front room on the second floor. My room was right down the hall, down from him.
Cedric Muhammad: Do you remember what year this was when you moved in, Sir?
Minister Lucius Bey: I believe it was around 1950 because I stayed in the house with him about three years and a half...So I left, he sent me then in 1954 – which I have that down good – to be the Minister in Washington D.C. and New York City. So I would say it was around 1950, somewhere in there because I stayed about three years with him. And I left out his house in 1954. But before that he would send me to different places...He sent me to San Diego also and he sent me to another place, after cross out of San Francisco and you cross the bridge in Oakland, California. So I was in Oakland teaching, he sent me there. And he sent me to several places to teach and finally he said ‘Brother I want you to get ready, cause I am going to send you to Washington, D.C. to be the Minister.’ He said, ‘Now I don’t want you to go looking for a job’ But, let me put this in before (to help explain). Now when I was staying with him to show you how blessed I was, at that time, the charity slip – you had on it (places to give money) the poor fund and for the Messenger’s family and Minister, and what ever they gave the Minister is all he got. It was on the charity slip. And what they gave the Minister then was 7 or 8 dollars a week. The first week that I was Minister they gave me $50...So when I was staying with him, he would give me money. Every Sunday that I come home from teaching, he would give me money. All of his family wanted to hear me – his sons: Akbar, Wallace, Herbert, all wanted to hear me. Even his wife (Mother Clara Muhammad).
Cedric Muhammad: Now what was the average minister given…
Minister Lucius Bey: Oh the first Minister that was all they would give him – maybe between $7 or $8 dollars. Maybe $10…The first Sunday that I was the Minister, the first week, they gave me $50 which was a lot of money then and when I was staying with him (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad) my wife was captain, she later became a cook for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. He loved her very much.
They gave her $25 a week, as Sister Captain of the MGT (Muslim Girls Training) and he would give me about $50 every Sunday…I never would open up (from the rostrum) without contacting him. On Wednesday about five minutes before I would open up at 8, I'd call him, (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad would ask) ‘Well how does things look, Brother?’ I would say well we have so-and so. (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad would say) ‘How many out?’ I would tell him. He said, ‘OK, Brother teach ‘em what I taught you’. I’d say, ‘Yes Sir’. And on Sunday, he would mostly come out every Sunday but there were some exceptions, when he wouldn’t come out. I would call him on Sunday morning, though I was staying with him I’d call him and I’d tell him and I knew that he was coming. He had a way that he would tell me. When he was coming out he would say, ‘Pretty soon’ then I would know he was coming. If he wasn’t coming he would say, ‘I’ll see you at dinner’ And I had a way of teaching when he was coming different from when he wasn’t coming. No one had to teach me that. I just leaned how to respect him and we would travel with him. I would drive him every day. I would be with him sometimes and we would go it looked like fifty or more miles riding. And in the morning when he would drink coffee he would always come down about 9 o’clock. And I would be down waiting and I would be sitting in the den waiting for him and he would always be on time coming out. (He would say) ‘Come on Brother Minister let’s drink some coffee.' And sometimes my wife would be there and sometimes his wife, Sister Clara Muhammad and his mother. I knew his mother. And sometimes she would be sitting there. And he had a sister and sometimes she would be there, sitting there. And when they leave, nobody would be sitting at that table but me and him. And we would sit there almost every morning until twelve and 1 o’clock talking, and he wouldn’t be jiving he’d be teaching. Nobody at that table but me and him.
Cedric Muhammad: And this went on for over three years?
Minister Lucius Bey: Yes, yes. Then he would look at his watch, and he would say, ‘Oh Brother Lucius, let’s go riding’. I’d say, ‘Yes Sir’ and we would go riding. Sometimes we would ride a long ways. I would take him places.
He (once) wanted to see an attorney. I took him downtown in the Loop there in Chicago and when we walked in the attorney put his secretary out of the office. Nobody was sitting there but us three. The attorney would ask questions of him and he would answer him. That man (the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) knew something. And now, I would drive him down the Loop and when I was with him I did not think nothin’ could go wrong. I’d be driving downtown and he would say, ‘Brother I want to get on the other side’ What do you think I would do in the Loop that you are not supposed to do? Make a U-Turn. (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad would say) ‘Brother, Brother don’t do that!’ And I said, ‘You want to get over there’ and he would say, ‘(I) know but you are breaking the law.’ I said, ‘But you want to get over there’. (laughter) If you know anything about Chicago then, you were not supposed to make a U-turn. I’d make a U-Turn. I figure if he’d tell me to do something, that’s it. I didn’t think nothing could go wrong and I used to drive him to …the farm. Sometimes I would trail him. I had my Chevrolet. Now, Brother, he was gonna’ drive. If that car got 120 (mph) he was going to get it. And I asked his wife once was she afraid (driving with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) and she said ‘No, I think Allah is with him, I just sit there.’ So I was trailing him one time and oh that little car might of looked like it was going to fly. You’d think I was afraid keeping up with him. (laughter) I bumped into him once. When he got up a hill.
Have you seen when you are by a block at a light?
Cedric Muhammad:Yes, Sir
Minister Lucius Bey: And the light turned and it looked like he was going about 70 or 80 (mph) and I’m right behind him, so it kind of rained and we put on the brakes, and I slide out. I kind of bumped him and he looked in the mirror and he did like this [Minister Bey shows how the Honorable Elijah Muhammad motioned his finger indicating the bump was a ‘no-no’]…
Cedric Muhammad: he waved his finger at you?
Minister Lucius Bey: Yeah. And when he was turning (a corner), Brother he could take a curve...
What I did [Minister Bey, while trailing the Honorable Elijah Muhammad turned without making a complete stop at a corner]. He looked in the mirror and saw me and stopped. He pulled over and said, ’Brother don’t you ever do that. What if you get caught over there? Don't you ever do that.’
So coming back one time, a police patrol stopped him. He was speeding and I’m right behind him. He gave both of us a ticket. He was just a humble man and he was very intelligent. So (later) he gave me an envelope and he said, ‘Brother, I want you to take this envelope and give it to the (one) who gave us a ticket.’ Now I don’t know what was in it, then. OK, I know where the place was…so I got in my car to take it by and give it to them. And he stood up, he opened the envelope and read it and there was money in it. And he apologized. And he said, ‘I want you to apologize to Mister Muhammad for stopping him, and take the money back’. He didn’t even want to take the money.
Cedric Muhammad:. This was the police?
Minister Lucius Bey: He didn’t take the money, the Chief, or whoever it was. He wouldn’t take the money, and he apologized. He said I want you to apologize to Mister Muhammad for stopping him. Now what he had in there I don’t know I didn’t read it. It was sealed. But I carried it back to him (the Honorable Elijah Muhammad). And he said ’Brother, he didn’t take the money?’ I said ‘No Sir’. He laughed. And I said he told me to apologize for him. And he (the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) laughed.
And (one time) we were going to the farm and there was an accident, all Whites (involved). And a White fellow was kind of bleeding and hurt. He (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad) pulled and stopped (the car) and got out. I got out with him and he walked back and he said (to the injured White man), ’Is there anything I can do to help?’ And it kind of got me (laughter). You know the way we were teaching back then (about White people). So he got back in the car and he knew how I was thinking. He said ’Brother Minister.’ I said, ‘Yes Sir.’ He said, ’Anytime you can help anybody, you help them.’ I said ‘Yes Sir.’ It really got me, he got out of the car stopped in front and got out - naturally I walked with him – walked back there and all of them were White and he said, ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’ (The White man) said ‘No sir we are alright, thank you.’ (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad) said, ‘OK’. So he told me, he said ‘Brother, anytime you can help anybody, you help them.’ I said thank you. So a lot of the teaching Brother, and the way Brothers acted way back then, he didn’t teach that way. I know.
He talked strong, now. 'Cause he would always teach about the grafting of the devil. I have seen him with reporters – all Whites – on the first seat at a Saviours’ Day, he’d stand there Brother and tell them why their eyes are blue and why their veins were blue…but the way he taught it was not like arrogant or attacking. It was just like you were stating a historical fact. And they (the Whites) would just look at him. That is all they would do. He didn’t teach arrogantly, you know, attacking. He didn’t teach that way…and I was in the house when they interviewed him. They came out. He told me, Brother, they are going to come here, I want you to give them a seat, and say I’ll be down’ And they set their little lights up, and he was sitting in a chair. He sat just like this (Minister Bey positions himself to show how the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was seated) and I am sitting over there. I was always around him. And they asked him, ‘Mister Muhammad,’ he looked up and said, ‘Yes Sir’. He (the interviewer) said, ‘I understand that you teach that we are blue-eyed devils.’ He said, ‘I teach that y’all are blue-eyed devils? I didn’t even know myself. Allah taught me y’all were devils and I believe Him.’ Brother, he could answer any kind of question just as intelligently as you would think.
Cedric Muhammad: With a sense of humor, as well…
Minister Lucius Bey: Well, it was just, he didn’t have that arrogance. And he would teach. He would say, ‘Brothers don’t ever call him devil to his face. That is not intelligent. Of course he is but he didn’t make himself. We made him…So don't do it.’
Brothers would come in (to see the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) and think they were saying something, talking silly, ‘Dear Apostle, I told that devil to get off from my land.’ He said, ‘Brother, that is so foolish. The man is in power. That is so silly Brother to talk like that.’ So they talked real stupid back then but he didn’t. How do you think I taught for about almost 8 or 9 years as Minister in Washington, and I made great progress, cause they didn’t have suitable places then. And when I went to Washington, Brother they were in a condemned building. Condemned building. And he said, ‘Don’t you look for a job Brother, I’ll take care of you. You go there to teach’ And he told the Secretary, ‘Give my Minister every penny that is taken up, a week. Send me the report.’ And every penny that was taken up it was given to me. That’s why I could travel. That’s why I could go so many places and teach. I had the money. And I got out of that condemned place. We rented a building. I think it was a Presbyterian Minister, I believe. I think he owned the building. He had turned the first floor into what connected into an auditorium and it would just seat 100, no more than that. Just 100. And I rented that. It had a basement. And I wasn’t in that building long Brother before nobody could be in the auditorium but visitors and Sisters and Brothers in the basement. I made that kind of progress.
Cedric Muhammad: And this began in 1954, when you were the Minister?
Minister Lucius Bey: Well I went there in 1954 and I suppose a year later when I got in this place, and I started making progress. And I was to rent. The fact about it was that I was thinking about buying a Masonic building but I didn’t. A Black preacher bought it. It had three floors and I made friends with him. And I asked him. I wanted to rent. Because I had grown too large for this other place. Nobody could be sitting in there except Sisters and Visitors, the Brothers were all out. So he rented it to me… He said, ‘Now you can have any floor you want’. It had three floors. First, second, or third. So I checked it out. And the second floor wasn’t so good. I took the third floor. It had an elevator. So anyway, do you know I packed it? That’s where I made progress. And when I left Washington we had our own place. I bought a lot. We paid $12,000 cash for the lot. (And with) $90,000 and some dollars we put a building on it. Wallace (Imam Warith Deen Mohammad) has got it now. And when I left Washington, D.C. as Minister, to go to Miami, we had over 200 Sisters – faithful, and over 200 Brothers – faithful…
Cedric Muhammad: …Now I want to go back (over this time period), because I know you and I had talked previously about how you were actually present, with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, when he was getting letters from Malcolm…
Minister Lucius Bey: I was sitting at the table and when Malcolm was in prison, he’d write a letter maybe one or two every week, and he (the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) would read those letters to me. He said, ‘Brother Minister, I think when this Brother get out, I believe he gonna’ be a Minister’. I said ‘Yes, Sir.’ So sure enough he told me Malcolm was out, because he was writing him. And I was the first one that opened the door when he came to the house. He had dinner. I think it was on a Wednesday. And he told me, he said ‘Brother, I want you to call this Brother up, Malcolm, and let him speak. And I want you to let me know how he speaks.’ I had not left his house then. And I called Malcolm up, Malcolm talked, and when I got back that night – because he never did go to bed until I come home and we sit up and talk and drink coffee. He said, ‘How did he talk?’ I said, ‘He talked wonderful.’ (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad) said, ‘You think he will be a Minister?’ I said, ‘Yes, Sir’. He said, ‘I thought so.’ And I am the one, that when he was going overseas, we all met in New York. I was there. His sons were there. Minister Malcolm was there. Minister Farrakhan was there. Isaiah was there, he was the Minister of Baltimore.
Cedric Muhammad: Was that Isaiah Kareem?
Minister Lucius Bey: Yeah Isaiah Kareem, he was there. And at this time there was a Minister in New Jersey. Ok. We are all sitting there at the table. I’d always be sitting by the Messenger. [Minister Lucius Bey begins to use his hands and motion around a table in order to describe how everyone was seated] The Messenger was sitting here. Malcolm was sitting there. Minister Farrakhan was sitting next to him. And I’m sitting here.
Cedric Muhammad: So you were on the right hand side (of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad), Malcolm was on the left and the Minister (Farrakhan) was to the left of Malcolm…
Minister Lucius Bey: Yeah, in front of me just like I am looking in front of you. Malcolm and Minister Farrakhan were sitting there… And he was giving instructions, he says, ’Minister Malcolm, I want you to visit all out in California, and all around, and I want you to speak.’ He (Malcolm) was always writing (notes). He said, ‘Yes Sir.’ He (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad) studied and said, ‘OK, I want you to take a Minister with you.’ He (Malcolm) said ‘Yes Sir’. Minister Farrakhan will tell you that today because he reminded me of it. He (the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) says, ’Who are you going to take? Minister Malcolm said, ‘I am going to take Minister Farrakhan’. He (the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) said, ‘No, take Minister Lucius’. Minister Farrakhan will tell you that today because he reminded me of it. So he (Malcolm) and I traveled and we talked throughout California and all.
Cedric Muhammad: Do you remember what year it was Brother Minister?
Minister Lucius Bey: If we can figure what year he went (the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) overseas than we can tell you. (laughter)…
Cedric Muhammad: 1959? I know that is when he went to the Sudan and other nations...
Minister Lucius Bey:…if that’s the date then that’s the date he went (overseas) and we traveled, me and Malcolm traveled throughout (the West Coast) and we talked. There was a problem in I think it was, Ohio or Tennessee or somewhere, and he was at the table and he (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad) said, ‘Minister Malcolm I want you to go down there and straighten this little problem out. There are two Brothers there and they are fighting over who’s the Minister. I want you to go and I want you to make one of them Minister.’ He (Malcolm) said, ‘Yes Sir’. (Then The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said)’And I want you to report back to me’ So Minister Malcom went and came back. (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad asked) ‘Did you do what I asked you to do’. He (Minister Malcolm) said ‘Yes Sir’. (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad asked) ‘Who did you make Minister?’ Malcolm told him. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad studied and asked, ‘Why did you make him Minister?’ He (Minister Malcolm) said, ‘Well, the other Brother was aggressive and this (one) was humble.’ He (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad) said, 'You made the wrong one Minister.' (laughter)
Now I can understood what he (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad) meant and why he said that. I can understand why he wanted Minister Malcolm to take me rather than Minister Farrakhan (on the trip to California) and maybe you can understand.
Cedric Muhammad: I think I do, but could you say what you saw?
Minister Lucius Bey: Well, at that time, Minister Farrakhan – Malcolm was his idol and he would do whatever he (Malcolm) said. I was different, you had to be right. (laughter). Not that I was rebellious now. I am not a rebellious person. I am not an arrogant person. I don’t disrespect no one. But you have to be (right). (laughter) So the Messenger knew that I would hold to what I thought was right in my conscience. And I was not a yes man. But yet I was very humble. And sometimes that is hard for the average person to take…
…Cedric Muhammad: Now, many people including the Minister (Farrakhan) and others have referred to you as “The Dean” of the Ministers of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad…
Minister Lucius Bey: You know how that came about? That came about because of my advanced knowledge and teaching and my knowledge of scripture. And everybody liked to hear me teach in those days. And I became the dean of his Ministers, through that process. Did I ever show you the identification and approval that he (the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) gave me?
Cedric Muhammad: No Sir, I have never seen that.
Minister Lucius Bey: Oh my goodness I wish I had known I’d have brought it. He wrote – and I got it – “To Whom It May Concern Minister Lucius has been taught by me and he is one of the righteous qualified to teach Islam throughout America. Signed, Elijah Muhammad” I got it. I got a copy of that. So I guess I am the only one that has signed by the Messenger, approval to be able to teach.
…Cedric Muhammad: Now the first time I ever saw you physically and the Minister (Farrakhan) together was at…the dinner table and it was one of the most beautiful things I ever saw because the Minister referred to you [while Minister Farrakhan and Minister Bey were holding hands at the dinner table] and he spoke very highly of you, and he referred to you even as ‘Daddy’.
Minister Lucius Bey: Yes he always does that and I always sit by him when I am in Chicago. I respect him very highly.
Cedric Muhammad: Yes Sir. He spoke about you, and then you spoke about him and here you are referred to by many as “the dean” (of all of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s Ministers), and he personally, lovingly referred to you as ‘Daddy’; and you spoke of him (Minister Farrakhan) in reference to how he is your leader and you follow him.
Minister Lucius Bey: He is the leader of the Nation, Brother, and if it wasn’t for him, Brother, there would be no Nation Of Islam. I have the greatest respect (for him). I don’t get out here like a show. I have the greatest respect. My prayers are that Allah keep him around…
Cedric Muhammad: What in your view, is the relationship between the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan?
Minister Lucius Bey: I would say, if I try to express it, this way – I just say Father and Son. (laughter). That’s the best answer. And he (Minister Farrakhan) is the one to keep us in line and to resurrect the Nation and how could he do that if he was not with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad? Where does he get the strength and the wisdom to do what he has done? Look at all of these other Brothers who call themselves Muslim…What Brother that calls himself a Muslim under the teachings (of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) has made the progress that the Honorable Louis Farrakhan has made? Who do we see that has the honor and respect in America and the East that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has?
...Look at this if we don't believe in his divine connection. The Million Man March. Look who he had. He had preachers. Talkin about a million? He had more than a million people. Now that was a sign of his divine connection. Look how many he had there. From all over. Preachers and everywhere. Look how peaceful they were. You didn't find beer cans and all that junk everywhere.
I mean what I am looking at Brother, and maybe it is not good to say it. We are not looking at what he is doing>, to see the Divine Hand.
End Of Part I
Note: For clarity and emphasis, the words of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad are in boldface
Thursday, October 7, 2004