Midcity at the Crossroads
— Shaw Heritage Trail —
Washington's first black Muslim temple opened in 1940 when the Nation of Islam established Temple No. 4 at 1525-1527 Ninth Street. The Nation of Islam's second national leader, Elijah Muhammad (1897-1975), presided over the event. Founded in Chicago in 1931 by Wallace Fard, the Nation of Islam stands for discipline, racial pride, and respect for women, Allah and the Qu'ran, justice, pacifism, and the separation of African Americans from White society.
In 1960 the temple, renamed Masjid Muhammad Mosque, moved nearby to 1519 Fourth Street where Malcolm X briefly served as its leader.
The story of Shiloh Baptist Church, across the street began during the Civil War. The Union Army, about to attack Fredericksburg, Virginia, offered safe passage to Washington for enslaved or free Blacks wanting to flee. Some 400 members of Fredericksburg's accepted, and in 1863 founded Washington's Shiloh Baptist Church on L Street, NW, west of 16th. In 1924 Shiloh moved here to what had been Hamline Methodist Church. When some White neighbors objected, the owner of Hamline Church's organ paid a janitor to set the organ of fire, damaging the building. Unbowed, Shiloh members repaired the church and flourished. The church was rebuilt after another major fire in 1991. Like other churches in Shaw, Shiloh, with its Family Life Center, serves as a social gathering place. Shiloh is especially known for its Civil Rights work, housing assistance, and music ministry. Soprano Marian Anderson, the Wings Over Jordan gospel singers, and many others have performed at Shiloh.
Rev. Earl Harrison (behind the smoke) oversaw the burning of Shiloh's mortgage in 1943 as the choir sang. (Collection of Shiloh Baptist Church)
Malcolm X of the Nation of Islam, 1964. (Library of Congress)
Elijah Muhammad, second leader of the Nation of Islam. (Library of Congress)
Marian Anderson performed at Shiloh in 1934. (Washingtoniana Division, D.C. Public Library)
[Recital Program] "Marian Anderson, Contralto". (Collection of Shiloh Baptist Church)
Shiloh Baptist Church members Dr. Theodore George (fourth from left), Rev. Walter Fauntroy, and Julius Hobson led a civil rights march from the church to the White House, May 1963. ( The Washington Post
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther, Jr. spoke at Shiloh's Men's Day in 1960. (Collection of Shiloh Baptist Church)