On April 17, 1934, a squad of Detroit police officers converged upon a school at 3408 Hastings. They approached carefully, even cutting the building’s telephone wires. Once inside, Mary Almanza and 12 other teachers were booked for contributing to the delinquency of minors and subversion. The name of the school was the University of Islam, established by Detroit’s newly formed Nation of Islam.

Almanza, one of its founding members, died in February at the age of 109, having lived to see her faith grow from a marginalized anomaly to one of the most influential movements in African-American history”¦ By the 1950s, Fard had left the Nation of Islam in the hands of Elijah Muhammad. Muhammad died in 1975, and was succeeded by his son, W.D. Muhammad, who aligned the faith more closely with orthodox Sunni Islam.

“My mother accepted the changes, because she wanted to follow the truth,” said Osman Almanza. For the past decade, Mary Almanza attended Masjid Saaliheen on Detroit’s west side. (MORE)


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