Muhammad, Benjamin Franklin Chavis

Muhammad, Benjamin Franklin Chavis, 1948–, African-American civil-rights and religious leader, b. Oxford, N.C., as Benjamin Franklin Chavis, Jr. An activist from boyhood, he was a youth coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In the late 1970s, Chavis was one of ten men wrongly imprisoned (1976–80) after leading a Wilmington, N.C., demonstration. A minister in the United Church of Christ from 1980, he headed (1985–93) that church's Commission for Racial Justice before his 1993 appointment as director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Controversy surrounding his leadership of the NAACP and his handling of sexual harassment and discrimination charges against him led to his dismissal the following year. In 1994–95 he was national director for the Million Man March in Washington (Oct., 1995). In 1997 he announced himself a member of the Nation of Islam (see Black Muslims) and began to preach as a Muslim minister; he changed his surname from Chavis to Muhammad. In 2001 he became president of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network,

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