Minister Malcolm X had direct contact with local pioneers in setting up Muhammad Mosque #23 in Buffalo, according to Student Minister Bro. Dahveed Muhammad. . “Minister Malcolm traveled to the area several times to visit the family of Ora-Lee X Lewis (Mc- Quiller). We know her now as Ora-Lee Khalid Lewis-Delgado. Her brother, Bobby McQuiller brought the teaching of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad to Lackawana NY in 1953,” he told the Challenger in a 2011 interview.
According to Bro. Dahveed, Sis. Ora-Lee also received letters and phone correspondence directly from the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who sent Min. Malcolm to the area, in response to a great many letters that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was receiving from people in Buffalo/ Lackawanna, because of thework and effort of Bro. Bobby Mc- Quiller. The family of Levi and Kathrine X Hawkins, with daughters Maryann,LuCinda, and Carol, began attending study with Bobby McQuiller in Lackawanna in 1954.
“Eventually Min. Malcolm moved the study group to Buffalo, to Sis. Ora-Lee’s home at 78 Brunswick Blvd.,” chronicled Bro. Dahveed. “From there it was moved to the home of Levi and Kathrine X Hawkins at 44 Butler Ave. Min. Malcolm eventually sent Min. Thomas J. X and his assistant Min. Robert J. X from Hartford CN in 1956 to continue growing the Buffalo study group.”
Min. Malcolm visited the homes at 78 Brunswick Blvd. and 44
Butler Ave. several more times in support of the growing study group. The group eventually achieved the status of a Mosque, and received it’s number 23 in 1957, under the leadership of Min. Robert J. X Williams.”
A “Tribute to the Pioneers” of Mosque #23 several years ago include a reading of copies of original letters of guidance and instruction written by Min. Malcolm to the ministers that he installed here. Min. Malcolm typed the letters, and wrote handwritten notes in the margins.
The letters were on display at the event. There were also historical testimonials by Sis. Ora-Lee, Bro. Donnelle X Oliver, Min. Robert J. and some of the other pioneers who were scheduled to be present. A slideshow presentation of a chronology of the Nation of Islam in Buffalo and entertainment provided by Muhammad School of Music was also featured. Bro. Dahveed provided the following timetable of significant events and individuals of those early days. Photos are courtesy of some of the pioneers.
It All Began in 1953
*Bobby McQuiller brought the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad to Lackawanna in 1953. Most of his brothers and sisters and family joined on to the teaching of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The Mc- Quiller family becomes the first family of the Nation of Islam in the Lackawanna area.
*Minister Malcolm X visits the McQuiller home in Lackawana NY.
*The family of Levi and Kathrine X Hawkins began traveling to L
Lackawana in 1954 to study the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad at the McQuiller home. Levi and Kathrine X Hawkin’s family becomes the First Family of the Nation of Islam in Buffalo. The Hawkins home at 44 Butler becomes the first study group location in Buffalo.
*The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad corresponds with Sis. Ora-Lee X Lewis (Mc- Quiller) by telephone. Sis. Ora-Lee X Lewis (McQuiller) is appointed as secretary of the study group in 1955.
*Minister Malcolm X travels to Buffalo/ Lackawanna, on occasion, to visit with the McQuiller family and with the Hawkins family of 44 Butler St.
*Min. Malcolm X corresponded with the McQuiller family and the Hawkins family.
*Min. Farrakhan’s brother; Alvin X comes to the area to teach on a regular basis.
*Malcolm X advises that the study group be moved to Buffalo. *Min. Malcolm X sends Min. Thomas J. X. and Robert J. X. to Buffalo from Hartford CN as minister and assistant minister in October of 1956.
*Minister Malcolm X along with Thomas J. X and Robert J. X visit the study group at 44 Butler St. in 1956.
*Min. Malcolm X sends Min. Thomas J. X back to Hartford CN in January 1957. Min. Robert J. X stays in Buffalo as minister; John B. X is his captain.
*The Buffalo study group moves to a new location at Woodlawn and Jefferson upstairs.
*The study group continues to grow and becomes Temple #23, receiving it’s number in the year 1957. *Minister John B. X becomes minister of Muhammad Temple #23.
*The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan sends Bro. Dennis Muhammad to Buffalo NY in 1982 to re-establish the teaching of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
*Bro. Dennis resumes the Buffalo study group after meeting Sister Shirley A. X Gadley (Muhammad), who introduced him to Sis. Florine, Bro. Sandy, Sis Catherine, and a host of other Muslim followers of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad
*The study group begins meeting at Bro. Sandy and Sis. Catherine’s home on Wyoming street in Buffalo NY. In 1982 the Muhammad StudyGroup moves their meetings to Harambee Books and Crafts (now Zawadi Books) then located on Main and Utica
*Minister Abdul Halim Muhammad is appointed minister in 1985.
*The study group moves their meetings to a storefront on E. Ferry and Cornwall Ave. and moves to E. Ferry and Goodyear shortly thereafter.