Clarence Edward Smith
(February 22, 1928 – June 13, 1969), better known as Clarence 13X
, was an American religious leader and the founder of the Five-Percent Nation
. He was born in Virginia and moved to New York City as a young man, before serving in the United States Army
during the Korean War
. After returning to New York, he learned that his wife had joined the Nation of Islam
(NOI) and followed her, taking the name Clarence 13X. He served in the group as a security officer, martial arts instructor, and student minister before leaving for an unclear reason in 1963. He enjoyed gambling, which was condemned by the NOI, and disagreed with the NOI's teachings that Wallace Fard Muhammad
was a divine messenger.
After leaving the NOI, Clarence 13X formed a new group with other former members. He concluded that all black men were divine and took the name Allah
to symbolize this status. He rejected the belief in an invisible God, teaching that God could be found within each black man. In his view, women were "earths" that complemented and nurtured men; he believed that they should be submissive to men. He and a few assistants retained some NOI teachings and pioneered novel interpretations of them. They devised teachings about the meaning of letters and numerals: understanding the meaning of each letter and number was said to provide deep truths about God and the universe. Clarence 13X referred to his new movement as the Five Percenters
, referencing a NOI teaching that only five percent of the population knew and promoted the truth about God. One way that he distinguished his group from his previous faith was by rejecting dress codes or strict behavioral guidelines—he allowed the consumption of alcohol, and at times, the use of illegal drugs. (Full article...