(Courtesy photo/WPFW Radio)

Askia Muhammad, a renowned journalist, photographer, poet, and Black Press columnist, has died.

“With deep sadness, the family of Askia Muhammad announces his passing of natural causes today at the age of 76,” WPFW-Radio in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.

“A private service will be held with a memorial planned for a future date. There are no words to express the profound sadness we feel at the passing of our dear brother.”

Officials at the station, where Muhammad, a Final Call editor, said he had given much and was always gracious and smiling.

“Words are inadequate at this moment. So, we just hold onto the vibration of love, truth, perseverance, hope, and joy that Askia always exuded,” the station continued.

“Let us reflect on the beautiful legacy that Askia left us and how we can collectively carry forth the impeccable vibration of his spirit.”

For more than 40 years, Muhammad had been a fixture on WPFW, the Final Call, and his column appeared regularly in Black-owned newspapers like the Washington Informer.

An author, Muhammad’s most recent book, “The Autobiography of Charles 67X,” featured a collection of photos, poetry, and personal essays covering his life as a politically and socially engaged journalist.

When interviewed by The Final Call about the book and his start in radio, Muhammad said he didn’t have very much jazz music.

“I discovered in my limited collection that there was a recording by Charlie Parker. My name given by my mother was Charles, so I had some identification with that,” Muhammad stated.

“Then I discovered that he recorded a song, his signature song, ‘Yardbird Suite.’ The ‘Yardbird Suite’ was recorded on my first birthday.”

 “So, I said it’s a natural. I’ll have a yard bird show, and that was it, and since I have this one double album with Charlie Parker songs, I have plenty of Bird, 27 songs on that album,” the longtime journalist reflected. “Bird” and “Yardbird” also were the nicknames of the iconic jazz composer and saxophonist.

“I was able to launch a show, and that was the first song, the ‘Yardbird Suite.’ I call my show ‘Sweets’ as in candy because I didn’t want to be confused with Charlie Parker’s Yardbird Suite. So there we went, and that’s why,” he said.

More than 40 years later, Muhammad’s show remained vital, and Washington, D.C. City Council enacted a resolution commemorating that achievement.

Despite his connections to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, who appeared on the show on Tuesdays, D.C. City Council recognized Mr. Muhammad even though one council member said the Minister was not welcome in D.C.

“The spirit of our beloved new ancestor, Askia Muhammad, rises,” tweeted Howard University Professor Greg Carr. “He is #MaaKheru [The Voice is True]. We cherish the time he spent here in this form and in this place, finding and speaking the truth,” Carr continued.

“We will keep him in our memory and lift his example to light our way.”

Renowned journalist Roland Martin also paid tribute to Muhammad.

“I crossed paths with Askia Muhammad many times, including having him as a guest on TV One and News One Now,” Martin wrote on Twitter. “Sorry to hear of his transition to ancestor.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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17 Comments

  1. My deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues on the loss of noted journalist, Mr. Askia Muhammad. May he rest in eternal peace.

  2. I loved his voice on WPFW. I hope he was not in pain. Where he is now there is no covid19 worry, no wind; no rnt worries. Thank You for sharing yourself and your life with us Brother Askia Muhammad.

  3. Brother Askia was unapologetically a 365 day 24 hour 7 day a week freedom fighter for his people. He was sharply critical, analytical , and suffered no fools. A true Aries, a bluesman true to his Mississippi roots he found a home at WPFW. That family enveloped and cherished him as much as he loved and cherished his city, this District of Columbia. We will miss his poetry, his wordsmanship, his alacrity. But we will forever keep his memory alive and do him honor by continuing the fight doing right by those forgotten ignored and most in need in this city and all over this world. Well done, good and faithful servant of your people and May Almighty Allah be pleased with your life! You have earned glory.
    Jolynn Brooks, member of “Black Beige and Brown Quintet” and local community board at WPFW.

  4. Back when Muhammad Speaks was on 26th & Federal. I was Blessed to work there when Brother Charles 67X was the most serious Editor I had ever known, having come there from the Chicago Defender & I knew that I was in a serious place! I almost remember when Imam W.D Muhammad blessed Brother Charles 67X with his Holy name &
    Brother Askia Muhammad seemed to glow!
    I was Blessed during that time, with the name Sister Kalla Akbar!

  5. I never met Mr. Muhammad in person. I listened to him frequently on WPFW. He was a powerhouse. I will forever respect him, his work and all he did for humanity. WPFW and the Washington Informer have had a shift because of his passing. But I’m sure those like myself, WPFW and the Washington Informer will always keep him in our thoughts and memories.

  6. What a devaastating blow. Askia has been an integral part of the Washington landscape. Watched his career here in D.C. since the 70’s and integral part of my morning ride with Brother Jamel in my a.m. commute to Virginia. I was looking forward to hearing them for the WPFW pledge drive. I was completely shocked and taken aback when I heard the news today on WPFW — it was a stab in the heart. RIP but will never be forgotten.

  7. Much respect, and I’ll always remember the songs he’d end his radio show with: “Good Times” by The Jackson’s occasionally , and “Funny How Time Slips Away” by Joe Hinton always. Also, how he’d always end his show with these words “Until we meet again, If Allah wills, and the creek don’t rise!

  8. I shared experience with Bro Askia from a world Frienbship tour in Lybia , taking pictures and video of The Honorable Minister Farrakhan with Ghaddafy.

  9. This news saddens me because I just heard you on WPFW a couple of weeks ago as I was getting off work. Your voice on WPFW and reading your commentary in the Final Call will be truly missed. I have your book as well as many Final Calls newspaper where I can always read your words of wisdom and guidance! Rest in Power My Brother!

  10. Brother Askia stood tall as a dignified, conscious and engaged Black man meeting the racialized & anti-democratic socio-political challenges within American society, and all the while elevating African American people. He will be surely missed as we celebrate him and salute his work and legacy.
    As a product of Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles (the terrain of my rearing as well), we applaud you my brother… Well done!!

  11. Askia Muhammad was the editor at the Muhammad Speaks Newspaper where I worked under his leadership. A true leader for our people. May Allah be pleased with him.

  12. I met Brother while we were organizing Min Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam in 1978. Through the years I saw in him a man dedicated to the advancement and improvement of our people! I will always remember this Good Brother!

  13. Im saddened by the news of the dear brother Akia. I will miss hearing his voice, which seduced me each time i heart it. I always want to meet him in person. Go to the ancesters in peace my brother.

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