By Erick Johnson
Munir Muhammad, a longtime activist and member of the Nation of Islam, who for years interviewed dozens of politicians and prominent figures on his eponymous digital talk show, died Tuesday, July 9 at his home. He was 69.
His son, Jamil Muhammad confirmed his death to the Crusader.
The offices that served as Munir’s headquarters and the production studio for his digital talk show C.R.O.E. TV was closed Tuesday after receiving notification of his death.
In an emotional but brief interview, Jamil Muhammad said his father will be remembered as a man and for “His love for people and his dedication to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam.”
The walls of Muhammad’s office at 71st and South Western Avenue in West Englewood were covered with photos of Munir with governors, aldermen, television news anchors, celebrities and prominent figures in Chicago. Muhammad interviewed many of them on his broadcast, The Munir Muhammad Show.
Born on March 27, 1950 in Birmingham, AL, Muhammad as a teenager visited Chicago several times during the summer. In 1968, he graduated from Wenonah High School in Birmingham. Tired of living in the segregated south, Muhammad moved to Chicago eight days after his father died and more than one month after Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.
As Chicago’s West Side smoldered after protesters took their anger to the streets, Muhammad took a job in shipping and receiving for DeMert & Dougherty, a hair care products and personal grooming supply company on the Southwest Side. He then worked as an assistant code enforcer for the City of Chicago.
In 1972, a friend brought Munir to the mosque on Stony Island. Introduction to the teachings that empower Blacks as God’s chosen people was a life-changing experience for Munir.
“When I heard Honorable Elijah Muhammad that day, it took me by storm. I hadn’t heard any explanation that made so much sense. The message was profound. Yusef Shah was teaching. He was so down-to-earth. He was hip and street-oriented. The other guy was Dr. Abdul Salaam, an intellectual and a dentist by profession.”
That year, Muhammad began studying to become a member of the Nation of Islam. He became an official member in 1974 at 22 years old.
In a profile in the Crusader in 2018, Muhammad said the achievement wasn’t easy, saying he was a “street-oriented” person who did several things that went against the teachings of the Nation of Islam. The process of converting to Islam became a deep journey for Munir.
“It was a thinking process. Always, Mr. Muhammad was trying to get you to think. The ultimate goal was to try to get you to love yourself first. It was difficult at first because we were made to hate ourselves. Everything that Blacks did was wrong. We are not these crazy people. We are divine, and sons of the Most High. I didn’t feel inferior to anyone.”
In 1975 one year after he became a member of the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad, its leader whom Munir deeply admired, died of congestive heart failure.
“That affected me so much because I wanted people to get to know him.”
During his 2018 interview with the Crusader, Munir said he was often persecuted and denied opportunities because of his open loyalty to Elijah Muhammad. He said he was often excluded from places after expressing his desire to talk about the leader.
With no medium to express his views, Munir in 1997 built the C.R.O.E. (acronym for Coalition for the Remembrance of Elijah Muhammad) studio to fulfill his purpose of promoting and advancing the interests of the Nation of Islam. The studio houses an extensive collection of historical photographs, films, interviews, television specials and Muhammad Speaks newspaper archives. Munir got the idea for the studio after his initial idea to purchase a billboard with a picture of Elijah Muhammad that read, “Do You Remember this Man?”
Politicians soon came calling. Former Governors Pat Quinn, Rod Blagojevich and Jim Ryan were on Munir’s show. Mayors Rahm Emanuel and Richard M. Daley also stopped by to chat. Current Nation of Islam leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan, has been featured on the show many times. Munir also conducted a rare interview with former Nation of Islam Secretary John Ali.
In 2018, Munir was inducted into the Wenonah High School Hall of Fame.
He is survived by his wife, Aminah Muhammad, sons Jamil and Carlos, and daughter Aginah.
Funeral Services for Munir Muhammad are as follows:
Lay In State: Saturday, July 13th from 12-6 p.m. at C.R.O.E., 2435 W. 71st Street
Memorial Services: Monday, July 15 at 10 a.m. at The House of Hope, 752 E. 114th Street