African American Religions
Elijah Muhammad was born as Elijah Poole on October 7, 1897, in Bolds Springs, Georgia, a town so
small, that in order to identify it, one needs to mention Sandersville, Georgia, another town that stands between
Macron and Atlanta, Georgia in order to have any sort of real reference point. Elijah was the sixth of 13 children,
born to Wali and Marie Poole. Their first home was a sharecropper's shanty that could barely accommodate a sizable
family of 13.
It was said that Marie Poole, Elijah’s mother sensed that he was special.
When he got older, his siblings
also came to share their mother's beliefs about their brother. When the brood argued, they often asked Elijah to settle
their squabbles due to his being the brother with a level head.
Elijah in a sense followed in his father's footsteps as a minister. The elder Poole was a Baptist preacher.
Wali Poole gave instructional sermons every Sunday to the congregation at the small Georgian church, as well as to
his children at home. On the weekdays, Wali Poole was also a hardworking sharecropper.
On Sundays, he devoted
his day serving the needs of the black community in Bold Springs.
Elijah was aware of the disenfranchisement of blacks and the problems that they encountered on a daily basis. The
Poole family barely made enough money to pay their bills as sharecroppers. The family rented the land that they
farmed from a landowner for a share of the crops that season. The family sold the remainder of the crops for a small
amount of money. The money was just enough for them to purchase a few items of basis supplies and some clothes.
There were debts to pay, so the sharecroppers often borrowed from white creditors who would lend them
money with an astronomical interest rate attached. The Poole family was no different from other families in the
community who needed assistance to make ends meet and to provide, food, clothing and shelter for their families.
The Pooles, also owed a large sum of money to their white creditors.
Striving for a better life, Wali and Marie
Poole made the decision to relocate their large family.
Elijah was six years old when his family made the trek from
Bolds Springs, Georgia to Wenona, Georgia, approximately 100 miles from Bolds Springs. Wenona was also five
miles from Cordele, Georgia. That was in 1907.
When the family
got to their new town, they rented a house directly across the street from the railroad
depot. Wali Poole again tried his hand at sharecropping.
At that time, the Poole family children were needed in the
fields. They attended school whenever Wali Poole didn't need them to help him farm the land.
including Elijah plowed using the family mule, sowed the land in the spring time and harvested the crops.
After finishing the fifth grade, Elijah left school and went to work full-time as a field hand and sawmill