Oral History Interview with Ameedah W. Abdullah (Iola E. Corbett) on July 14, 2020

Title

Oral History Interview with Ameedah W. Abdullah (Iola E. Corbett) on July 14, 2020

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Interviewee

Abdullah, Amdeedah W. (Iola E. Corbett)

Interviewer(s)

Zahid, Hadia; Perkins, Dr. Alisa (Research Director)

Description

Oral history interview with Ameedah Abdullah (Iola E. Corbett) conducted by Hadia Zahid on July 14, 2020. Interview written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Hadia Zahid. Ameedah W. Abdullah was born in 1945 in Detroit, Michigan, to parents who hailed from Mississippi. Abdullah was raised in a Muslim family. Her parents joined the Nation of Islam in 1953 when Abdullah was eight years old. Around that time, the family began attending Temple No. 1 in Detroit and Abdullah switched from public school to the University of Islam. As a young girl, Abdullah attended the Muslim Girls Training and General Civilization Class where she honed her cooking and other homemaking skills. Abdullah's parents were prominent business owners in Detroit’s African American Muslim community. Abdullah's father, Mumin Abdullah, managed and cut hair at the family’s barbershop. Her mother, Geneva Wakeelah Abdullah, managed and helped cook at the family’s Shabazz Restaurant, where Abdullah also served customers. Many influential leaders dined at the restaurant, including Malcolm X. Abdullah remembers serving milk and bean pie to Malcolm X and fondly recalls how he did not judge her for using the money from his tips to play her favorite songs from the restaurant’s jukebox. On one occasion in her teenage years, Malcolm X honored Abdullah by inviting her to speak at a convention about growing up in the Nation of Islam. Abdullah details this experience in her interview. As a young adult, Abdullah embraced Sunni Islam under the leadership of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. As a life-long member of Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad, Abdullah serves on its board and volunteers at the mosque’s kitchen and office. In the interview, Abdullah elaborates on the significance of her long-term involvement and service at Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad and other Detroit Muslim institutions. She reflects on her family’s early involvement with the Nation of Islam. She also details what it was like to attend the Muslim Girls Training and General Civilization Class along with other young Muslim girls, and the strong friendships she established there which endure to this day.

Date of Interview

7-14-2020

Location of Interview

Detroit, MI (Interview conducted over Zoom)

Keywords

African-American history, African-American Muslims, Omar Abdul Aziz, Geneva Wakeelah Abdullah, Mumin Abdullah, African American musicians, Muhammad Ali, Arabic language education, Assassination of Malcolm X, Banana pudding, Barber, Barber shop, Bean pie, Black-owned businesses, Blended family, Board member, Cantrell's Funeral Home, Chicago, Christianity, Civil Rights Movement, Close-knit community, Community building, Community leadership, Community organizing, Conversion to Islam, Cooking, COVID-19 pandemic, The Dells, Detroit, The Drifters, Economic development, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Friday prayer services, Fruit of Islam (FOI), The Great Migration, Hajj, Halal food, Head coverings, Hijab, Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad, Interfaith family, Intergenerational faith, International Association for Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Interracial activism, Interracial allyship, Jumu'ah, Labor Union, Linwood Street, Philip Little, Wilfred Little, Mecca, Michigan, Mississippi, Modest dress, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, Mosque breakfast, Mosque fundraising, Master Wallace Fard Muhammad, Sister Clara Muhammad, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Multi-ethnic Muslim community, Muskegon, Muslims, Muslim Americans, Muslim Girls Training & General Civilization Class, Muslim women's community space, Muslim-American business, Nation of Islam, Nation of Islam diet, Nation of Islam uniforms, Networking, Parental pride, Elvis Presley, Project manager, Prophet Muhammad, Public speaking, Racial segregation, Racism, Imam Tauheed Rashad, Reversion to Islam, Saginaw, Saudi Arabia, Saviours' Day, Shabazz Restaurant, Betty Shabazz, Signification of Muslim names, Sunni Islam, Taylorsville, Temple No. 1, Tennessee, University of Islam, Volunteering, Malcolm X, Philip X, Wilfred X

Disciplines

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

Notes

Interview conducted online over Zoom by Hadia Zahid. Written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Hadia Zahid. Facilitated by Dr. Alisa Perkins. Video Edited by: Olivia Novak. Transcribed by: Jillian Glasser. Transcription edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins. Metadata by: Meghan Murphy. Metadata edited by Dr. Alisa Perkins and Sophia Wimberley.

Language

ENG

Document Type

Interview

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.

Funder

Pillars Fund and Whiting Foundation

Grant

Dream of Detroit

Length of Video

1:02:58

Oral History Interview with Ameedah W. Abdullah (Iola E. Corbett) on July 14, 2020

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