Nation of Islam Sister Clara Muhammad School uniform worn by Medina Rowell, 1978-1979
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.
Medina Rowell wore this uniform as a student at a Sister Clara Muhammad School in 1978-1979. Sister Clara Muhammad Schools were formerly Muhammad Universities of Islam that had been renamed by Imam W. D. Mohammed in honor of his mother Sister Clara Muhammad. As the wife of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Sister Clara Muhammad played a significant role in establishing the Nation of Islam’s (NOI) first schools; and she was critical in sustaining the NOI during her husband’s imprisonment for sedition and draft evasion in the 1940s. The Sister Clara Muhammad Schools are an important reminder not just of her specific legacy, but more symbolically of the many Black Muslim women who worked to establish Muslim community institutions in the United States.