Although less complicated than the dynamic that occurs following the Nuwaubians’ relocation to Eatonton, the groups’ time spent in Brooklyn paints a complex picture of the relationship between a separatist group and its surrounding community. Given suggestions that the Nuwaubians’ decision to relocate was “not entirely voluntary,” with evidence implying a potentially “rocky” relationship between the Nuwaubians and their surrounding neighbors, this complex dynamic proves difficult even in the much more culturally, racially and religiously diverse Brooklyn (when compared to Eatonton), regardless of the overall greater ease of existence that the Nuwaubians saw in New York. 1
This tension developed not only out of their practice of separatism, but further, the movement’s use of religious markers such as “Allah” and their claims as an “Islamic” movement caused strife with local Mosques, given their often unique or unconventional interpretations of the Qur’an. Further, the group was already under FBI surveillance prior to their migration to Eatonton, and reports suggest actions such as “arson, welfare fraud and extortion” also put them at odds with the surrounding community.2
However, the Nuwaubians were not a totally spurned group throughout the duration of their active period in New York. Throughout much of the 1970s, the Nuwaubians, under the title of the AAC, “saw status as a bona fide social organization validated by the New York City government.”3 More specifically, the municipal government partnered with the group in a collective push against drug abuse, with an emphasis on crime prevention. Anaedozie goes so far as to suggest “the AAC earned for themselves public trust and respect,” while also alluding to a potential accommodation from the current Mayor Ed. Koch and NYPD.4 Although arising conflict between the AAC and “secular authorities”5 eventually tarnished the clean record of the Nuwaubians during their stint in New York, it is clear the relationship that developed between the group and their surrounding community was more complicated than mere acceptance or rejection.
During this time, the AAC also expanded, opening a number of new bookstores and expanding to other cities, including Baltimore and Washington D.C. At the height of their wealth, influence and expansion, the AAC saw satellite locations internationally, opening up bookstores in Canada, England and Trinidad and Tobego.6 While outside the confines of their headquarters in Brooklyn, this display of growth and expansion suggests the ability of the movement to comfortably and profitably spread their influence and presence, suggesting a more tolerable relationship with the surrounding community.
1 Julius Bailey. “The Final Frontier: Secrecy, Identity, and the Media in the Rise and Fall of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors.” (Journal of the American Academy of Religion, no. 2, 2006), 306.
3 Emeka C. Anaedozie, Post Civil Rights Black Nationalism: The Nuwaubian Nation of Moors’ Model, 1967-2002 (Morgan State University, 2013), 101.
5 Susan Palmer, The Nuwaubian Nation: Black Spirituality and State Control (Farnham, Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2010), 65.
6 Anaedozie, Post Civil Rights Black Nationalism, 101-102.
Noremacmada. “Brownstones and other types of apartment buildings on Bushwick Avenue near Suydam Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn.” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lower_bushwick_ave.jpg (accessed 1 December, 2018).