Business sign for Nation of Islam International Trades Division, 1970s

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Halimah Mohammed Ali

Since its inception, in the spirit of Carter G. Woodson, Sapelo Square has commemorated Black History Month with daily Black Muslim History facts. This year, Sapelo Square is exploring the Muslim collection at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). During Black History Month, we will display a different object each day from the collection, showing how the objects help tell the rich histories of Muslims of African descent in the United States. View the entire series at our dedicated Black History Month 2021 page.

This is a sign for the International Trades Division of the Nation of Islam (NOI), which by the mid-1970s, was importing thousands of pounds of whiting fish from Peru. Under the brand “Whiting H. & G.” (for headed and gutted), the NOI introduced whiting to urban communities through fish sales and its network of fish restaurants. It was a choice meat for Muslims for whom halal (ritually permissible) meats were not always readily available. The popularity of Whiting H. & G. was so widespread, it inspired the Kool & the Gang instrumental “Whiting H. & G.” on their 1974 album Light of the Worlds, which reached number 16 on the Billboard Rhythm & Blues charts.

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