On April 27, 1962, Muslims gathered for the Friday evening prayer service at Muhammad's Temple No. 27 in South-Central Los Angeles, east of Culver City and west of Watts. Some two hundred followers of Elijah Muhammad sat in folding metal chairs, separated by sex - the women wearing head coverings and floor-length dresses, generally white, and the men in distinctive dark suits with suspenders and bow ties, their heads closely shaved. Facing them from the podium, a blackboard posed in large letters the thematic question of the Nation of Islam: "WHICH ONE WILL SURVIVE THE WAR OF ARMAGEDDON?" To the left, framed by a cross, and American flag, and a silhouette of a hanging lynch victim, the blackboard offered a grim choice labeled "Christianity, Slavery, Suffering, Death," in pointed contrast to the alternative proclaimed on the right: "Islam, Freedom, Justice, Equality." Thus, explained the quick-witted Minister John X Morris, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad answered one of the central puzzles of all religion - how to reconcile unmerited suffering with the presence of a benevolent God. Allah had permitted the Christian nations to bring Africans into slavery - "chewing on men's bones for three hundred years," as Muhammad put it - to test the will of the victims to reestablish their religious dignity.
-Taylor Branch, Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-1965