National Geographic : 1977 Feb
For security and sanctity, members of the World Community of Islam in the West Black Muslims-submit to a search for weapons, drugs, tobacco, and alcohol before their Savior's Day services, February 26. Men sit apart from the white-gowned wom en, whose modest attire reflects religious conviction. The 47-year-old American sect has changed dramatically since the 1960's, when leaders demanded separation from "the devil white man." Still preaching strict moral behavior, pride, and self-help, they now accept white members and seek ties to Islamic centers of the Middle East. Malcolm X, 12 years after his assassination at a Black Muslim service, still seems to speak from a poster in a barred basement window. From street corners to universities, he denounced racist attitudes that "forced us not to aspire to greater things but to view everyday living as survival." A former bur glar and dope peddler, Malcolm turned a prison sentence into self-education and con version to Islam. The mosque on West 116th Street where he served now bears his name, and many Harlemites say that "Malcolm was a good brother."