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.”