Illinois taxpayers are currently supporting an organization that promotes the teachings of a man notorious for conspiracy theories about Jews and references to white people as “devils.” Public records indicate that the Build Illinois Bond Fund, established in the mid-1980s to promote economic development in the state, appropriated the Coalition for the Remembrance of Elijah Muhammad (CROE) $500,000 in 2021 and 2022 and has signed off to give the same amount to the organization in 2023.
CROE, which has not responded to an FWI inquiry, was established in 1987 to “remember a man who was slowly being written out of history”—Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. While Elijah Muhammad, who led the Nation of Islam for four decades, did not espouse traditional Islam, he played a significant role in helping the faith gain a substantial following in the black community in America.
According to CROE’s website, Elijah Muhammad, whom they refer to as “The Messenger,” taught that “the White man first appeared 6,000 years ago on the Island of Patmos or Pelan in the Aegean Sea, where they had been made by a 600-year process of selective breeding called grafting. Under the auspices of a brilliant Black scientist named Yakub, and by the divine authority of Allah Himself, the Blacks who came with Yakub to the island were placed under a system of laws by which mating was based on skin color and in which only lighter-complexioned babies were allowed to survive.”
CROE promotes black separatism, declaring, “We want our people in America whose parents or grandparents were descendants from slaves, to be allowed to establish a separate state or territory of their own,” and continues, “We believe that the offer of Integration is hypocritical and is made by those who are trying to deceive the black people into believing that their 400 year-old open enemies of freedom, justice and equality are, all of a sudden, their ‘friends’.”
The organization’s website links to an online bookstore, which sells Elijah Muhammad’s book, The Fall of America, in which Muhammad says, “Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. admitted to me that I am teaching right. He admitted that the white man is the devil, but he was afraid to take a stand and preach that the white man is the devil.”
Another book sold on the website, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, claims that “Deep within the recesses of the Jewish historical record is the irrefutable evidence that the most prominent of the Jewish pilgrim fathers used kidnapped Black Africans disproportionately more than any other ethnic or religious group in New World history and participated in every aspect of the international slave trade,” and says, “Jews have been conclusively linked to the greatest criminal endeavor ever undertaken against an entire race of people – a crime against humanity – the Black African Holocaust.”
The homepage of the CROE website advertises the “36th Annual Founder’s Day” event on March 12 of this year, and the organization boasts livestreamed events on Wednesdays and Sundays.
So far, the distribution of public funds to CROE in Illinois has remained under the radar, but controversy over Elijah Muhammad’s legacy has hit the papers in New York City where the city council is considering renaming a street in honor of Muhammad. However, Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens) says he will not support the measure. “I’m going to oppose Elijah Muhammad. He was a black separatist. He was a bad guy,” said Holden. Another council member, Kalman Yates (D-Brooklyn) expressed concern over the proposal saying, “Streets renaming should be reserved for principled and respected individuals.”
FWI has reached out to the office of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker for more information about the funding, but has not received a response.
Susannah Johnston is investigative reporter for Focus on Western Islamism.
February 20, 2023 Update: A previous version of this story used the word “gave” instead of “appropriated.” The photo caption underneath the IL data entry previously stated $1.5M in total had been appropriated. The caption has been updated to reflect that $500,000 was appropriated in FY21 and then “reappropriated” in FY22 and FY23.