Oral History Interview with Thaddeus Shakoor, August 13, 2020 and March 6, 2021


Oral History Interview with Thaddeus Shakoor, August 13, 2020 and March 6, 2021



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Shakoor, Thaddeus


Ahmad, Muminah; Perkins, Dr. Alisa (Research Director)


Oral history interview with Thaddeus Shakoor. The first segment of the interview was conducted by Muminah Ahmad on August 13, 2020 and the second segment was conducted by Dr. Alisa Perkins on March 6, 2021. Interview written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Muminah Ahmad. Both segments are in the same video file. Thaddeus Shakoor was born on August 22, 1942 in Detroit, Michigan to parents who were both born in Georgia. Raised in a family with a Christian background, Shakoor converted to Islam though the Nation of Islam’s Temple No. 7 in Harlem while he was in his twenties and living in New York to pursue a musical career. Shakoor returned to Detroit after a few years, and in the 1970s he embraced Sunni Islam, joining the community of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. In the interview, Shakoor describes the many years of community activism that he engaged in during his life with other members of Detroit’s Muslim Community through Temple No. 1, Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad, and the Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center. Shakoor emphasizes the guiding role that Imam Warith Deen Mohammed has played in his life, especially in understanding the importance of cultivating cooperation among Muslims across ethnic, class, and urban-suburban divides. Shakoor was instrumental in establishing Neighborly Needs and the Shabazz Men’s Transitional Home. He helped lay the groundwork for Dream of Detroit, a major revitalization effort in the central west Detroit neighborhood around the Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center. He is married to Baheejah Shakoor and together they have raised five children.

Date of Interview


Location of Interview

Detroit, MI (Interview conducted over Zoom)


Activism, Abandoned homes, African-American History, African-American Muslims, Muhammad Abdul Aziz, James Baldwin, Banglatown, Bronx, Cass Technical High School, Chicago, Church, Clinton Township, Conversion to Islam, Cordele, COVID-19 pandemic, Mark Crain, Dawah, Dearborn, Detroit, ‘Detroit Free Press’, Detroit Institute of Musical Arts, Detroit Muslims, Ismaeel Dhul-Quranayn, Dream of Detroit, W.E.B. Dubois, Mayor Michael Duggan, Imam Abdullah Bey El-Amin, Tamra El-Amin, Shedrick El-Amin, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Georgia, Eddie Glaude, Great Migration, Florida, Fort Valley, Halal food, Hamtramck, Harlem, Highland Park Community College, Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad, Zaina Holsley, Housing Rehabilitation, James Campbell Elementary School, Jazz music, Indus Community Action Network (ICAN), Interfaith relations, Islam, Islam in America, Imam Saleem Khalid, Longfellow School, Rafiq Mahdi, Mariner’s Inn, McMichael Middle School, Michigan, Military draft, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, ‘Mother of the Nation: Clara Evans Muhammad’, Clara Muhammad, Elijah Muhammad, Dr. R. Zakiyyah Muhammad, ‘Muhammad Speaks’, Musician, Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center, Muslim Americans, Muslims, Nation of Islam, Neighborhood revitalization, Neighborly Needs, New York City, Nonprofits, Northwestern High School, Real estate agent, Reversion to Islam, Rosa Parks Place, Rosa Parks Boulevard, Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree, Kareem Schkoor, Betty Shabazz, Shabazz Men’s Transitional Home, Dr. Abdulmunin Shakir, Baheejah Shakoor, Southfield, Sylvania, Temple No. 1, Temple No. 7, Tree planting, US Rubber, Urban-suburban relations, Wayne County Community College, Dr. Wassem Ullah, Volunteering, Malcolm X, Lawrence Ziyad


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 part 1 conducted online over Zoom by Muminah Ahmad, part 2 conducted online over Zoom by Dr. Alisa Perkins, both parts written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Muminah Ahmad, facilitated by Dr. Alisa Perkins. Transcribed by: Meghana Srinivasa and Dr. Alisa Perkins. Transcription edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins. Metadata compiled by: Dr. Alisa Perkins. Video Edited by: Dr. Nathan L.M. Tabor.



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

Length of Video


Oral History Interview with Thaddeus Shakoor, August 13, 2020 and March 6, 2021