Oral History Interview with Lawrence Ziyad on December 26, 2020


Oral History Interview with Lawrence Ziyad on December 26, 2020



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Ziyad, Lawrence


Walid, Zayd; Perkins, Dr. Alisa (Research Director)


Oral history interview with Lawrence Ziyad conducted by Zayd Walid on December 26, 2020. Interview written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Zayd Walid. Lawrence Ziyad was born in Detroit on May 3, 1950 and traces his family’s roots to Greenville, Mississippi. He was raised in a Christian family, attending church with his mother and Sunday School. After high school, Ziyad was drafted to the United States Army and worked in Search and Recovery (SNR) during the Vietnam War. When Ziyad returned from Vietnam in the early 1970s, he began discussing Islam with his brother, who was involved with the Nation of Islam. Ziyad reverted to Islam soon after and began attending Temple No. 1. After several years, he embraced Sunni Islam under the leadership of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. Ziyad attended the Michigan Career Institute and worked for the Chrysler Corporation. In the mid-1980s, Ziyad and his wife Catherine helped established the Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center. As the mosque grew, he was instrumental in developing its Islamic weekend school for youth. Ziyad also assisted in the mosque building’s maintenance and carpentry and was involved in the Muslim Center’s major expansion. During the interview, Ziyad reflects on the revival of Islam that accompanied Imam Warith Deen Mohammed’s entry into leadership and details his experience with this transition. He reflects on the benefits of the community programs offered by the Muslim Center and the work done by its partner organizations like Neighborly Needs and Dream of Detroit, which promote community building and neighborhood revitalization.

Date of Interview


Location of Interview

Detroit, MI (Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center)


Air Force, Al-Fitrah club, Imam Derrick Ali, Noble Drew Ali, Arabic language education, Army, Army draft, Assassination of Malcom X, Auto Mechanics, Basketball, Berry Elementary School, Brotherhood, Building maintenance, Butzel Middle School, Carpentry, Shaykh Momodou Ceesay, Christianity, Chrysler Corporation, Community, Community activism, Community development, Conversion to Islam, Da Nang, Detroit Public Schools, Do for self, East Side Detroit, Eastern High School, Imam Abdullah Bey El-Amin, Hajjah Tamra El-Amin, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Kecia Escoe, Fatherhood, Fort Knox, Girl Scouts, Greenville, Halal, Geraldine Hasan, Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad, Islamic education, Islamic weekend school, Dr. Sherman Jackson, Kentucky, Tahira Khalid, Leadership, Daaimah Madyun, Malcom X, Marriage, Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High, Mass conversion, Michigan Career Institute, Military, Mississippi, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, Moorish Science Temple of America, Mosque, Mosque choir, Mosque drill team, Mosque fundraising, Mosque fundraising dinners, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Wali Muhammad, Imam Salim Mumin, Muslim Center camping trip, Muslim Center expansion, Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center, Nation of, Islam, Neighborly Needs, Pakistani-American community, Pan-Africanism, Pleiku, Political activism, Qur'an education, Reversion to Islam, Savior's Day, Search and, Recovery (SNR), Mitchell Shamsud-Din, Social justice activism, Soup kitchen, Sunday school, Sunni Muslims, Telephone hookup, Temple No. 1, ‘The Autobiography of Malcom X', the Great Migration, Theology, United States Armed Forces, Vietnam, Vietnam War, Vocational school, Voting, Youth leadership, Youth outreach


African American Studies | Africana Studies | American Studies | Civic and Community Engagement | Digital Humanities | Inequality and Stratification | Islamic Studies | Nonprofit Administration and Management | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Religion | Urban Studies and Planning


Interview conducted by Zayd Walid at the Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center. Interview written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Zayd Walid. Interview recorded under the direction of Supervising Producer Malikah Shabazz. Videography by Abdul-Zahir Sadid, facilitated by Muninah Ahmad. Video Edited by: Mandy Weiss. Transcribed by: Nyala Ahmed and Dr. Alisa Perkins. Transcription edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins. Metadata prepared by: Hannah Cole. Metadata edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins and Sophia Wimberley.



Document Type


Rights Statement

Dream of Detroit Interviews were made possible by funding from the Pillars Grant and Whiting Foundation. Content is for educational purposes only and non-reproducible; interviews are not to be duplicated, but may be linked through ScholarWorks with appropriate attribution. Please direct any questions about copyright to scholarworks@wmich.edu.


Pillars Fund and Whiting Foundation


Dream of Detroit

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Oral History Interview with Lawrence Ziyad on December 26, 2020