Charles Muhammad, 50, graduated from LeMoyne-Owen College last Saturday (May 7), earning his bachelor’s degree in Social Work 32 years after leaving high school.
“That was one of my proudest moments,” said Muhammad.
“As the father of nine children, I have worked very hard to make sure they all have the opportunity to attend college. I have always told them I wished I had stayed in college. I ended up leaving after my first year.”
Muhammad participated in LOC’s commencement exercises at Downtown’s Orpheum Theatre. Two of Muhammad’s professors commended him on making a notable milestone.
“As a student, I found Mr. Muhammad to be very determined,” said Professor Bobbie Thompson, now retired. “He had a great interest in improving himself for his family.
“Despite some family issues along the way, he overcame them. He was one of my best students. I am so proud that he graduated this year.”
Chairman of the Social Work Department, Professor Michael Robinson, also had words of praise for Muhammad.
“Mr. Muhammad was an outstanding student,” said Robinson. “He demonstrated excellent leadership skills and always showed great enthusiasm. He developed strong relationships with peers and faculty.
“He plans to pursue graduate studies. He will do well. I celebrate with him in this great accomplishment, earning a college degree.”
Also, on hand to celebrate with Muhammad were eight of his nine children: Sharmeshe Muhammad, 33; Paisley Muhammad, 31; Khadijah Muhammad, 29; Luqman Muhammad, 28; Ayatullah Muhammad, 23; Jahmaykah Muhammad, 17; Sadat Muhammad and Tajjah Muhammad, 15. His son, Abdul-Fatir Muhammad, is deceased.
“I wanted my children to see me graduate from college,” said Muhammad. “Some of the older ones started college, but they did not stay.
“Getting a college degree opens up a world of opportunity, and I hope by my example they make a decision to go back. Hopefully, they won’t wait as long as I did.”
Muhammad is especially proud of his third daughter, Khadijah Muhammad, the first of his children to earn a college degree.
“Khadijah graduated from Grambling University in Grambling, Louisiana,” said Muhammad. “She teaches science at Oakhaven Middle School. Khadijah loved college. She pledged Delta Sigma Theta (sorority).”
Muhammad’s three youngest attend Melrose High School. Jahmaykah is graduating this year. Sadat is a sophomore, and Tajjah is a freshman.
“Hopefully, they will go on to college immediately after high school and complete their undergraduate degree,” said Muhammad.
Muhammad graduated from Kingsbury High School in 1990.
“I was a typical jock,” said Muhammad. “I didn’t get recruited for college. So, I got married two months after high school and decided to join the navy.
“After the Gulf War started, I changed my mind about the navy and decided to try college.”
Muhammad enrolled in Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee. After attending a few months, he decided to become a Christian Methodist Episcopal minister.
He was encouraged by his professors since Lane was a CME institution. But he converted to the Nation of Islam and experienced a transformation. Charles G. Beavers III became Charles Muhammad and he left after freshman year.
After working various positions over the years, Muhammad began a home health career in 2010. He worked with special needs individuals who had been formerly institutionalized in an Arlington, Tennessee facility.
As an advocate, he conferred with masters-level clinicians and Ph.D. behavioral analysts. A clinician recognized that Muhammad was “performing masters-level work” and told him to go back to college.
At Khadijah’s commencement at Grambling, Muhammad told her how proud he was of her. She replied, “Okay, it’s your turn now.’”
In 2018, Muhammad enrolled at LeMoyne-Owen College. Now, he has a plan for the next three years. He will begin a master’s program in social work, and immediately after, pursue a doctorate.
“I am motivated now because of a conversation I had,” said Muhammad. “One of my professors told me, ‘You will return to LeMoyne-Owen to teach. I will be ready to pass the mantle.’
“I answered him, ‘And I will be ready to accept it.’”