2217 Waverly Street
Site of Muhammad’s Temple of Islam
No longer standing, Muhammad’s Temple of Islam was located at 2217 Waverly Street behind what is today the Progressive Church of Our Lord. The Temple was a small, rectangular cinderblock and brick building with a front gabled roof. The façade appeared similar to many Christian churches, with large central doors and arched windows marked with panels of the Islamic star and crescent. The temple served as the center for Columbia’s Nation of Islam community during the 1960s.
When Malcolm X visited the city in 1963, all other public city venues approached by the Black Muslims refused to host the planned gathering, and the Nation of Islam leader spoke instead at the small, crowded Waverly Street mosque. For three hours, Malcolm X preached his message of black separatism—“Let the white man have his own, control his own and use his own for the benefit of his own. We only want what we can develop and earn for ourselves without help from the white man.” The State reporter Sam McCuen, the “only white guy in the building,” came away from the Temple awed, stating, “He had me convinced I was a blue-eyed devil. He was an incredible orator.”(1)
(1) Joey Holleman, "50 Years Ago: Malcolm X, RFK Brought Heated Rhetoric of Civil Rights Fight to Columbia," The State, http://www.thestate.com/2013/04/13/2723463_50-years-ago-malcolm-x-rfk-brought.html?rh=1 (accessed November 2014).