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Ozier Muhammad (b. 1950) is an African American photojournalist and Pulitzer Prize winning photographer from Chicago who has documented the cultural events of African Americans across the world for over four decades. Muhammad is dedication to utilizing photography as a truth telling medium that explores racial issues throughout society and sheds light on the daily struggles of the African and African American communities.


Muhammad is the grandson of Nation of Islam Founder Elijah Muhammad who mentored popular figures of the civil rights movement including Malcom X and Muhammad Ali. During Muhammad’s childhood he was surrounded by other influential figures such as Gordon Parks, the first African American photographer for Life magazine. Seeing Parks’ powerful photographs of the civil rights movement peeked Muhammad’s interest and inspired him to pursue a career in photojournalism.


Muhammad began his career in Chicago in the early 1970’s as a staff photographer at Jet and Ebony magazines. Both publications were devoted to telling the intricate stories of African Americans that were not covered in white-owned magazines. He began traveling to Africa in 1974 to report on the impoverished circumstances and racial disparities across the continent. In 1985 while working for Newsday, his report “Africa, The Desperate Continent” earned him a joint Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting.

In 1994 he documented Nelson Mandela’s historic presidential win to become the first non-white president of South Africa. In 1992 Muhammad became a staff photographer for The New York Times where he went on to cover President Obama’s revolutionary journey of becoming the first African American president of the United States in 2008. Muhammad’s work captures the incredibly empowering moments in black history and serves as an influential voice for his own community.


From Harlem to Kenya, Muhammad has worked as a cultural anthropologist by taking an honest look at the world around him and recording moments in history. His work has brought awareness to the hardships and triumphs that have been, and continue to be, experienced by Africans and African Americans alike. In a photograph taken during his travels to Ethiopia we see a severely malnourished Ethiopian girl whose fragile limbs dangle from a weighing scale while under the care of Doctors Without Borders. Muhammad’s work documents both the difficult and poignant experiences that represent what life is like for many black citizens around the world. In one photograph we see a young boy as he joyfully plays his trombone in the streets of Harlem while another photograph shows an unyielding line of Nation of Islam men as they stand ready for a combatant show of force in a housing project within the African American community. Whether documenting global events or everyday moments in Harlem, Muhammad is dedicated to photographing his community with honesty and compassion.


Muhammad’s work is in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, Bank of America, Haverford College and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.