Noted math scholar, Abdulalim Abdullah Shabazz.

Abdulalim Abdullah Shabazz, noted math scholar who trained more than half of the nation’s Black mathematician doctorate holders, and former minister of Masjid Muhammad, once known as  Nation of Islam D.C. mosque Temple #4, died June 25 in Grambling, La. where he was professor of mathematics at Grambling State University.  He was 87.

Born Lonnie Cross in Bessemer, Ala., Shabazz graduated with honors from Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. in 1945 and earned undergraduate degrees in math and chemistry from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, a Masters degree in mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1951 and a doctorate in mathematics from Cornell University in 1955.

He launched what would become an illustrious teaching career in 1956 as an assistant professor at Tuskegee Institute (now University), chaired the math department at Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) from 1957 to 1963 and headed the math and computer sciences department at Lincoln University from 1998 to 2000 before accepting an endowed position as mathematics professor at Grambling.

Abdulalim Abdullah Shabazz (Courtesy Photo/

He interrupted his career as a college professor to become an active leader in the Nation of Islam, teaching in Chicago, Detroit and in Saudi Arabia in Mecca. He served as minister of then-Temple #4 in D.C. until 1975.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science gave him its  “Mentor Award” in 1992, citing his work to increase the participation of women, minorities and those with physical disabilities in science and engineering. President Clinton presented Shabazz with a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring award in September 2000. In 2001, the Association of African American Educators awarded Shabazz with its Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding work with African Americans in mathematics.