Muhiyidin means “the reviver of the truth and bringer-back of the light,” and d’Baha means “of light or glory.”
Charleston's Muhiyidin says he changed his last name around the time of the killing of Eric Garner in New York. Of his name, he says, “for me, personally, they really seemed to fit well together, and I also wanted to share where I was coming from: d’Baha—of the land of Baha, the valley of light.”
Since the killing of Walter Scott in North Charleston last year, Muhiyidin has become a force behind racial equality in the Lowcountry, and he has woven his Baha faith into his change-making.
I asked Muhiyidin how he became the leader of Black Lives Matter in Charleston, and he answered, “I hope I’m not.” But he's definitely a reassuring face of the movement. A steady voice. An educator and enlightener. He says, "For 2016, the theme switched from revolution to nation-building. What we sensed is that we weren't ready for revolution—that when it comes down to it, we don't have enough guns and we don't have enough allies. We don't have a nation. You can have an army, but that army needs something to protect."
Muhiyidin speaks in many metaphors, but his call to action is simple: for the African American communities of the greater Charleston area to pull together—to alleviate poverty, amplify black voices, to educate their children, and provide a storefront and rallying place for black-owned businesses and goods.
"If you have a situation that doesn't change for decades, and you look at the people who are benefitting from that situation, you'll see that racket. It's nothing that can be diagnosed through a cursory glance. You have to be a part of it. You have to feel the temperature of the water—you can't just look at the ocean."
Muhiyidin's language and his work are the root of grass roots, and he says, "that’s where I’m going to stay."
Words by Elizabeth Bowers
Photo by Landon Neil Phillips, The Royal Wild