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One of the few extant photographs of Clarence 13X, date unknown

Clarence 13X, born Clarence Smith (February 22, 1928, Danville, Virginia, USA–June 13, 1969, Harlem, New York, USA) was the founder of the Nation of Gods and Earths and was referred to by members of that group as Allah or the Father.

Biography

Clarence Smith was born in Danville, Virginia to Louis and Mary Smith. In the Korean War, Smith served as a Private First Class between October 1952 and October 1954, receiving the Korean Service Medal with a Bronze Service Star and a United Nations Service Medal, and served until 1960 in the United States Army Reserve.[1][2]

Clarence joined the Nation of Islam after he learned that his wife became a member of the group. He became a member of Temple Number 7 in Harlem, New York, where Malcolm X was a minister. The 13X indicates that he was the 13th person named Clarence to join that temple. Clarence would be well-known there for his martial-arts skills and speaking ability, which led him to become a student minister. However, he would begin to question the NOI teachings of Wallace Fard Muhammad.

Clarence 13X was reprimanded by the Nation of Islam, eventually excommunicated, and left the organization, changing what he regarded as a slave name to that of Allah in 1963. He began to preach his own version of NOI teachings in the streets of Harlem, and later other cities, gaining supporters among the youths attracted to his speaking style. Among the young followers he attracted was Salahuddin Mustafa Muhammad. Clarence 13X used the Nation of Islam's lessons to teach that any Original Man—Black, brown, red, or yellow—could become God through living a life of righteousness and that people of other races could similarly become civilized people. In order to spread his message, he devised systems reminiscent of mystical traditions, which he called the Supreme Mathematics, a series of principles attached to the numbers 0–9; and the Supreme Alphabet, a series of principles associated with the letters of the Roman alphabet.

On May 31, 1965, Clarence was arrested in New York City, charged with assault and battery, conspiracy, disorderly conduct, marijuana possession, resisting arrest, and unlawful assembly in which he pled not guilty to all of his charges. He was sentenced to stay at the Bellevue Hospital in New York where was placed under psychiatric evaluation after not seeming to understand what he did wrong. The FBI file on Clarence 13X states that he believes the white man to be the devil by nature, and so cannot be anything else than a devil. Clarence was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and stayed in psychiatric care until 1967.

Clarence 13X was shot and killed in his Harlem housing project on June 13, 1969. Someone had attempted to murder Clarence in some years prior on December 13, 1964. Following the unsolved murder, any vestige of hierarchy among the Nation of Gods and Earths disappeared, but his teachings and were maintained and disseminated by his early students.

Notes

  1. ^ Knight, Michael Muhammad (2007). The Five Percenters: Islam, Hip Hop, and the Gods of New York. London: Oneworld Publications.  
  2. ^ "Federal Bureau of Investigation - freedom of Information Privacy Act". FBI. http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/smith.htm.  
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