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Louis Farrakhan is best known today as the head of the Nation of Islam. The Nation of Islam advocates black separatism along with some of the practices and beliefs of Islam. One of its main goals is for blacks to attain self-sufficiency. Farrakhan has been highly criticized as a racist and is thought to be anti-Semitic. Farrakhan has sparked more criticism in recent years, particularly from the U.S. Government, because of his "world friendship tour." During the tour he visited several countries run by dictators.

Farrakhan was born Louis Eugene Wolcott in New York City. He grew up in Boston and became a nightclub singer in his early twenties. He was known as "Calypso Gene" in those days. He joined the Nation of Islam through the encouragement of Malcolm X and changed his name to Louis X. (He later changed his name again to Abdul Haleem Farrakhan.) He rose quickly in the Nation of Islam because of his speaking and singing talents. When the split occurred between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam, Farrakhan became increasingly critical of Malcolm X. He later admitted to helping create the atmosphere that led to the assassination of Malcolm X. Farrakhan formed a new Nation of Islam in the 1970s after Muhammad's son, Wallace Muhammad, changed the name and the purpose of the original organization.

CHRONOLOGY

1933 He was born in New York City. (May 11)

1955 He joined the Nation of Islam through the encouragement of Malcolm X and changed his name to Louis X.

1963 Malcolm X split with Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam.

1965 Malcolm X was assassinated under suspicious circumstances, and Farrakhan became the head of the Harlem Mosque.;

1975 Elijah Muhammad died, and his son, Wallace, took over the organization, changing the name to the World Community of Islam.

1978 Farrakhan split with Wallace Muhammad's organization and formed a new organization under the name, Nation of Islam.

1983 He registered to vote and campaigned for Reverend Jesse Jackson in the U.S. Presidential race.
1985 He launched POWER, a health and beauty products company.

1986 He was banned from Great Britain.

1995 He organized the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. (October); Qubilah Shabazz, Malcolm X's daughter, was accused of plotting to kill Farrakhan.

1996 He visited 20 different countries during his "world friendship tour."

1997 He again conducted a world tour, visiting Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat during the trip.