The 71-year-old self-proclaimed “Original Jew” had tried a number of fringe religious groups before starting his own, the Nation of Yahweh. Among those who call themselves Black Hebrews, Yahweh, born Hulon Mitchell Jr., believed today’s Jews to be impostor Israelites.
From The Washington Post, via the LA Times:
From the beginning, however, Yahweh’s group was associated with an intimidating style that often crossed into violence and murder. He railed against “white devils” and proclaimed himself the messiah: “All who receive me shall be saved from immorality and death.”
Still, he managed to cultivate an image as a well-meaning, if eccentric, community builder. Yahweh helped clean up blighted neighborhoods and, at least among his followers, restored a sense of order to a crumbling social structure. Children studied Hebrew and recited the names of chemical elements.
He spoke to crowds of thousands around the country and received the blessings of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. In 1987, the Miami Urban League gave Yahweh its highest humanitarian award, and its president pronounced him “an inspiration to the entire community.”
In 1992, two years after the Miami mayor declared Oct. 7 Yahweh Ben Yahweh Day, the religious leader began a nine-year prison stint for conspiracy to commit murder.