TheBlaze has already told you a multitude of information about the Minister Louis Farrakhan. Aside from covering the often-troubling content present in his fiery sermons, we've delved into his theology. Most recently, we told you about his adoption of Scientology's central tenets into the Nation of Islam (NOI). But today, rather than sharing Farrakhan's views about the downfall of the United States, the purported evils of the White race or other such tidbits, we have more lighthearted information to share -- an image and some background information from the faith leader's college yearbook.
After a two-year project, the N.C. Digital Heritage Center at UNC Chapel Hill has completed a fascinating, online yearbook archive featuring documents from colleges and universities across North Carolina. The project allows citizens to look up friends, family members and others who completed their higher education in the state.
Farrakhan, whose birth name was Louis Eugene Wolcott, attended Winston-Salem State Teachers College, a fact that may be unknown to many. In an image that was released by the N.C. Digital Heritage Center and published in the Winston-Salem Journal, Farrakhan can be seen playing his violin (yes, violin).
The 1953 yearbook photo is fascinating for a number of reasons. First, it shows Farrakhan before he joined the ever-infamous NOI (the yearbook misspelled his last name as "Walcott," a relatively common error). The young student and musician depicted in the image (as much as pictures can tell) seems starkly different from the man we see delivering what some deem as hateful and divisive speeches.
Farrakhan is shown alongside famed band leader Horace Heidt:
In an expanded yearbook photo posted on the Digital NC Flickr account, more details about the image are given. At the time the picture was taken, Farrakhan was apparently a 19-year-old college sophomore. But -- here's where the situation gets a bit more bizarre.
Farrakhan was apparently very talented. So talented, in fact, that he was invited to appear on Heidt's "The American Way," a variety show that aired in 1953. The famed band leader went on to call Farrakhan "a great artist," with the yearbook caption concluding, "Here's to success, Gene!!" Little did the college yearbook staff know exactly what sort of success Farrakhan would inevitably achieve.
Here's the transcript word-for-word:
Eugene Walcott, 19, sophomore at Winston-Salem Teachers College, was selected to play his violin on the Horace Heidt show, "The American Way," on Thursday, February 26, 1953. Walcott had previously won a first place prize of $50 on Saturday, February 21, 1953.
Horace Heidt called Walcott back-stage after the show and offered him the chance to appear on the nationwide network. Heidt referred to Walcott as "a great artist."
Here's to success, Gene!!
And here's the image along with this text:
So, it seems Wolcott (i.e. Farrakhan) initially had a bright and successful music career ahead of him. According to the USA Today, he also appeared on Ted Mack's "The Amateur Hour" in 1946. However, in 1954, his academic career took a turn when he dropped out of school -- just one year after the above photo was snapped -- to marry his high school sweetheart, Betsy Ross, who was pregnant with his first child at the time.
For a time, Farrakhan continued on a musical path in an effort to support his family before being drafted by Malcolm X to join the NOI in 1955. USA Today reports that he supported his family before joining the faith order by "working as a country/calypso singer" and that he "was dubbed 'The Charmer' and 'Calypso Gene.'"
Sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction.
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