White Devils and So-Called Negroes: Jehovah's Witnesses, Southern Baptists, and the Early Nation of Islam in Detroit

Nathan Joseph Saunders, University of South Carolina


Wallace Fard, founder of the Nation of Islam (NOI), drew on a variety of sources in crafting his movement's early teachings. Sociologist Eerdman Beynon was the first scholar to study the NOI, and his seminal 1938 article remains an important source on the movement's early influences. Some of his observations regarding these influences, such as the roles of Marcus Garvey's UNIA and Noble Drew Ali's Moorish Science Temple, seem somewhat obvious in hindsight. Beynon however mentions other influences that remain obscure. For example, he reports that Fard told his followers to listen to the radio sermons of Joseph Rutherford, President of the Jehovah's Witnesses, and J. Frank Norris, a Southern Baptist preacher from Texas. Although scholars have studied the connections between NOI teaching and Garvey and Ali, few scholars who study the Nation go beyond simply mentioning the names of Rutherford and Norris.