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Young Robert McMillan was a senior in high school when his guidance counselor refused to fill out his college application paperwork, telling him he wasn’t “college material.” Now, he has earned his doctorate degree conferred in Urban Planning and Environmental Policy where he graduated May 14 from the Barbara Jordan – George “Mickey” Leland School of Public Affairs of Texas Southern University.
Growing up in New York, he read the Muhammad Speaks Newspaper that always covered his grandmother’s coffee table. She lived around the corner from Muhammad Mosque No. 7, so he was very familiar with the Muslim followers of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Minister Malcolm X and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan were “living legends to many people because the Muslims were strong in Harlem and New York City” said Southwest Student Regional Minister Dr. Robert Muhammad of the Nation of Islam. “My Godfather and I listened to Minister Farrakhan on the radio.”
Raised in the Catholic Church, Student Minister Robert began studying Islam in college in 1974. He accepted Islam in 1975 at Mosque No. 10 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. However, he became disenchanted because he joined the movement during the time it had fallen after the departure of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. “When the Nation of Islam fell, like many of us … I fell,” he said.
“It was 40 years ago that I first met the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in April 1976 before he began to rebuild the work of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” he reminisced. He was a college student at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia working toward his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science when Min. Farrakhan came to his campus. Student Minister Robert spoke of the excitement he felt being the only Muslim member of the University’s Student Government Association (SGA). “I was humbled to get to spend two days with him. In that time, I got the opportunity to dine with him. I got to spend time with a man that walks the earth with humility and was so kind to the students. He played the violin for us and answered all the questions that anybody had. What I realized is that he is as great a listener as he is an orator,” he added. “So the experience from those two days left a great impact on me and led to what was to come in my life.”
In 1980, two years after graduation, he moved to Houston, Texas. He married his college sweetheart in 1981 and is the father of four sons. He reconnected with the Muslims after seeing Minister Farrakhan on television urging people to support the presidential candidacy of Reverend Jesse Jackson. “I was shocked to realize there was bow tie-wearing-clean-cut, Nation of Islam Muslims again. At that time, I had no intentions of rejoining the mosque. I just went to support Jesse Jackson and that’s where I met the brothers of Muhammad Mosque No. 45,” he continued. Subsequently, he rejoined the Mosque (Study Group at that time) in Houston in the summer of 1984 and received his “X” in March 1986. On July 1, 1987, Minister Farrakhan had appointed him the Student Minister of Mosque No. 45. He received his holy name, Muhammad, in September of the same year. Seven years later, April 1, 1994, he became the Student Minister over the Southwest region.