Happy Labor Day Weekend everyone! I know I’ve been gone for a while but…..I’m Back! So without further ado….let’s get right into this week’s lesson. Ever heard of 13X and the Five Percent Nation? This week I’ll be sharing a brief introduction into a discret group known as the Nation of Gods and Earth (also known as the NGE or NGOE). This group is said to have elite members such as Jay Z, Eryka Badu, Carmelo Anthony, and many more.
Let’s start with a little info on the man who founded this group. Clarence Edward Smith was born in 1928 and raised in Danville, Virginia with five brothers and one sister. During his upbringing, the state of Virginia was racially segregated causing Clarence to witness harsh incidences of racism.
(Actual photo of Clarence E. Smith – Left)
In 1946, at the age of 17, he moved with his mother to New York City and found a new home in the Harlem area. Clarence later married a woman named Dora Smith and joined the U.S. Army. When he returned home from deployment, he found that his wife had become a member of the Nation of Islam (NOI). Clarence’s current lifestyle of smoking marijuana and gambling was not in line with the teachings of Mohammad; however, after consistent studying and observation of his wife, he decided to join the nation and changed his name to Clarence 13X.
The early 1960s were a challenging period for the NOI. Unrest was caused by several conflicts between leaders Elijah Mohammad and Malcolm X, resulting in the assassination of Malcolm X. Around that time, Clarence became disenchanted with the organization along with several others members of the NOI. After leaving the NOI, Clarence 13X decided he would form a new group under his leadership. He referred to his new movement as the FIVE PERCENTERS, referencing that only five percent of the population knew and promoted the truth about God.
Clarence and his increasing number of followers taught that all black men were divine. He rejected the belief in an invisible God, teaching that God could be found within each black man. He also stated that the letters of the word “Allah” stood for “arm, leg, leg, arm, head”, signifying the human body. This was said to prove that humanity held a divine nature.
He also taught that women were “Earths” that complemented and nurtured men; he believed that they should be submissive to men. He taught that there was a greatness found in those of African descent that was not found in Europeans and their descendants. This echoed the statements made by Elijah Muhammad and the NOI.
Clarence and his followers devised teachings about the meaning of letters and numerals: understanding the meaning of each letter and number was said to provide deep truths about God and the Universe.
By 1968, an estimated 700 people were members of the Five Percenters. After the death of Martin Luther King, Clarence begin to feel that his life was in danger as well.
On June 13, 1969, Clarence traveled to his wife’s apartment to rest. On his way in, he was ambushed by three assailants who fatally shot him while he was in the lobby of her apartment building.
Five Percenter’s membership plunged after Clarence 13X’s death, but the group regained momentum in 1970 after new leadership emerged and revitalized the group. The group was not lead by one particular leader. It is said that this may have been a result of Clarence’s teaching that all black men are gods, which rendered authoritarian leadership untenable. As of 2017, it is unknown how many members are associated with the NOG, but it is said to be stronger than ever.
Hope you enjoyed this quick lesson on the NOG(E). Interesting stuff right?!! Research and post your thoughts below in the comment section. Do you know of any other group that may share a similar belief / ideology? The belief that they are the Supreme Beings of the planet earth? I’ll leave you a hint in the photo below.
Wait! There’s More! [In my TV telemarketing voice]…I have to leave you all with one more “Fun Fact” as a gift to you for my time away. Would you believe that Walmart [of all places on Earth] sells NOG pendants online for about $240. Just wanted to throw that in for giggles. lol. Peace Family!… don’t forget to subscribe.
Underground Railroad Documentary (YouTube): https://youtu.be/_tvleT4Uhe0
Digital Media Training Program in Harlem – Harlem 1950 (image): http://www.harlemeyes.com/home/
Walmart 5 percent Pendant: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Genuine-Diamond-Five-Percenter-Pendant-in-Yellow-Gold-Finish-0-50-Ct/198274099?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=4608&adid=22222222227054792631&wmlspartner=wmtlabs&wl0=&wl1=s&wl2=c&wl3=155643699097&wl4=pla-320371109447&wl5=9010788&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=113727838&wl11=online&wl12=198274099&wl13=&veh=sem
Supreme Lessons of the Gods and Earths: A Guide for the 5 Percenters: https://www.amazon.com/Supreme-Lessons-Gods-Earths-Percenters/dp/B000LB22JK
- The Five Percenters: Islam, Hip Hop and the Gods of New York. Oneworld Publications. 2007
- Miyakawa, Felicia M. (2005). Five Percenter Rap: God Hop’s Music, Message, And Black Muslim Mission. Indiana University Press
- Jackson, John L. (2005). Real Black: Adventures In Racial Sincerity. University of Chicago Press.
- Richardson, Elaine (2003). Understanding African American Rhetoric: Classical Origins to Contemporary Innovations. Routledge.
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Note: All Images Are Used for Education Purposes Only