The Moorish Science Temple of America
Sheik Robert Webb-Bey, Sheik Azeem Hopkins-Bey, Chairman Terrence Hopkins-Bey
The Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA) is a religious organization founded in 1913 by Noble Drew Ali, born Timothy Drew. Among many beliefs, he asserted that Black people are descendants of the Moors who governed North West Africa. As such Black people, or "so-called Black people" as the Moorish community phrases it, are not Black but Moorish Americans "Moslems" of Islamic faith. Noble Drew Ali was reported to have stood on street corners in Chicago proclaiming: "Come all ye Asiatic of America and hear the truth about your nationality and birthrights, because you are not negroes. Learn of your forefathers ancient and divine Creed. That you will learn to love instead of hate." In addition to the assertion of a specific national identity, the MSTA was founded instill national pride and spiritual upliftment at a particular point in American history when "so-called Black people" were searching for a sense of belonging in the midst of the Great Migration and shifting national politics.
- Wednesday, September 27the Magnum Foundation
Moorish American Remembrance Day
About a hundred Moorish-Americans from across the country gathered on Independence Mall on Friday to remember the first generation of Moors who were stripped of their nationality and birthrights in colonial Philadelphia.
We are paying respects to our ancestors who were mislabeled as black," said Azeem Hopkins-Bey, grand sheik of the Moorish Science Temple in North Philadelphia. "'Black,' that's a slave term.
Hopkins-Bey said that in 1774, the First Continental Congress "erased" the heritage of those who were brought to America as slaves, by considering them all to be "blacks" and thereby erasing the identity of the men and women who suffered and died as slaves.
Once you lose your heritage, you lose your culture," he said. "Then, you're looked at with a stereotypical eye.
Moorish-American Remembrance Day is a unique gathering intended to allow Moorish-Americans to remember that heritage and preserve their own identity. Members of the temple – who consider themselves Moorish by nationality and practice Islam — gathered in Old City for a reading of the city's proclamation noting Oct. 14 as Moorish-American Remembrance Day in Philadelphia, before they toured Independence Hall and Carpenters' Hall.
"Moorish-Americans observe remembrance day on Independence Mall" by Hayden Mitman, Philly Voice