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Dr. Wallace Sharif, PhD. has accepted a position with Morehouse College, his Alma Mata, as an Assistant Professor of Biology. Wallace is a product of Sister Clara Muhammad School in Dallas, Texas, where his mother Wanda Sharif was principal. He graduated Cy Creek High School in Houston, Texas. Morehouse College, Class of 1996, in Atlanta, Georgia and earned his PhD in Biochemistry research from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. .
He met and married Dr. Sade Sharif, M.D. while they were both graduate students in the Vanderbilt University School of Medice. Wallace and Sade currently reside in Dallas, Texas where she is a practicing pediatrician and he is completing a post doctorate Fellowship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Wallace′s return to his Atlanta roots represents the completion and extension of several interlinked circles of life. He was born in Atlanta, His relationship with Islam began in the Atlanta Masjid. His early education started at its Sister Clara Mohammed School. And he earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry from his Atlanta Alma Mata of Morehouse College.
While a Morehouse student Wallace volunteered to tutor inner city students. His senior year there he was the director of the Morehouse Mentoring Program which coordinated 200 volunteers as they tutored thousands of elementary, middle school and high school students.
Wallace was on the Dean′s List throughout his tenure at Morehouse and graduated with Honors, Cum Laude, with a B.S. Degree in Chemistry.
At Vanderbilt, his research and PhD thesis involved the use of enzymes and proteins to correct genetic defects at the DNA level. Currently his post doctorate research in Dallas involves addressing issues involved in aging on the DNA level.
Wallace′s longstanding relationship with Morehouse and its sister School Spelman College preceded his birth. His father Curtis Sharif left his hometown of Beaumont, Texas in 1964 to attend Morehouse, the nation′s only all male, African American College. His mother, Wanda Catala Sharif came to Spelman College, the all female sister college, from Providence, Rhode Island in 1971.
They each converted to Islam at the Nation of Islam′s Atlanta Mosque in the early 1970s, which then was located on Bankhead Highway. While a Spelman student, Wanda began teaching at the Mosque′s Islamic school named the University of Islam.
In 1974, Curtis and Wanda were married in an Islamic wedding ceremony, in the backyard of the Campbellton Road area home she shared with other Nation of Islam sisters.
Approximately a year later, Wallace, their first child was born in Atlanta..
Wallace was born in June, following Imam W.D. Mohammed′s historic rise to the leadership of the African American Islamic community established and led by his father and mother, the Honorable Elijah and Sister Clara Muhammad, on Savior′s Day, February 26, 1975, Wallace Sharif′s first name is a tribute to Imam Mohammed′s leadership.
Imam Mohammed quickly guided the community′s transformation from the Black Nationalist, the Nation of Islam organization to is present, universal form of a true Quran and Sunnah based Islamic community,
Since his birth in 1975, Wallace′s successes, and growth in academia developed in stages. While it can be described as distinguished, it is by no means unique. One observer said it parallels the same pattern of growth and development of his siblings, his fellow Sister Clara Mohammed School alumni, that of the Atlanta Masjid itself as well as its educational system, , the growth of Islam in Atlanta′s African American and immigrant communities; Islam among African Americans, and in America in general.
Likewise, it paralleled the tremendous growth in stature of Imam W.D.Mohammed′s leadership from that of leader of the Nation of Islam, to today′s wide spread recognition as a world wide Islamic leader, scholar and advocate of interfaith cooperation and unity. All over the same 32 year time period.
During the post 1975 transition of the NOI Atlanta Mosque to the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, the University of Islam closed and the community relocated to the present day Fayetteville Road Location. There Wanda Sharif with other sisters established the Bilal Early Childhood Center. This pre-school, day care center, evolved into the Sister Clara Mohammed Elementary School , as grades were added, one year at a time, beginning with the first grade.
During this same period the name Nation of Islam′s national weekly “Muhammad Speaks” newspaper was renamed the “Bilalian News”, and Curtis Sharif became its Southeast Regional Bureau Chief. He , replaced the late Harold Muhammad, who began establishing masajids in Louisiana. He died in an automobile accident in Talladega, Alabama, enroute from Louisiana to Atlanta.
Curtis Ibn Sharif was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1976, Hana was born in Atlanta in 1978, and Joey was born in Atlanta in 1981, Both Wallace and Curtis attended the Bilal Early Childhood Center and Sister Clara Mohammed School in Atlanta.
In 1981, Curtis Sr.was transferred by his employer, IBM Corporation to Dallas, Texas. There Wanda helped found and establish the Dallas Masjid of Al=Islam′s Sister Clara Mohammed School, which was attended by Wallace, Curtis, Hana, Joey and baby Faridah who was born in Dallas in 1985.
In 1986 the Sharif family relocated to Houston, Texas where all five children graduated from Cy Creek High School. Wallace, graduated High School with honors, and made his first return to Atlanta in 1992, as a freshman at Morehouse College on full academic scholarship.
Brother Curtis joined Wallace at Morehouse in 1993 on a full NASA scholarship, and Hana Sharif entered Spelman College in 1995 , on a full tuition scholarship..
Wallace graduated Morehouse College in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry, and earned a fellowship in Vanderbilt University School of Medicine′s Doctoral program in Biochemical research..
In Nashville he met and married Dr, Sade Sharif who was a Pediatric student in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Curtis earned a dual degree from Morehouse in Mathematics and Georgia Tech′s Masters of Mechanical Engineering program.. In 1998, he married Lisa Sharif, a fellow dual degree Spelman / Georgia Tech student who earned a Masters of Electrical Engineering Degree.. They both work as engineers in the Detroit area Automotive Industry, and are the proud parents of the third generation of Sharifs, Darius 3, and Curtis 1 years old respectively.
Hana Sharif graduated Spelman College in 1999 with dual Drama. and English majors. She then, following her mother′s legacy, taught eighth grade at the Atlanta Masjid′s Sister Clara Mohammed School for two years, before returning to Houston to earn a Master′s Degree in Drama at the University of Houston. There she was selected to participate in famed playwright Edward Albee′s playwriting workshop. She earned a two year National Arts Fellowship at the Hartford (Conneticut) Theater. In 2001 she married WestPoint Military Academy graduate, and Army Captain Marcus Jackson. This August, they plan to tour theaters throughout Africat as she completes her fellowship term, and he completes his Army commitment. He is entering New York City′s Columbia University Masters of Business Administration program in September.
Joey Sharif enlisted in the United States Army following graduation from high school. He completed a three year term of service and is working as a Houston realtor, while attending college at Cy-Fair Community College.
In September, Faridah Sharif will begin her senior year at Spelman as a Phychology Major on a tuition scholarship.
Wallace Sharif′s second return to his Atlanta birthplace, as a Biology Professor at his Morehouse Alma Mata, is an oft repeated sign of the progress of Islam in Atlanta as a whole.
When his parents Wanda and Curtis converted to Islam in the early 1970′s the Atlanta Area, African American Muslim population was estimated at less than 200 members, with little more than 100 Nation of Islam members active at any given time.
Today the Atlanta Masjid of Islam operates both the Sister Clara Mohammed School, and the W.D. Mohammed High School covering preschool levels through high school graduation.
Wallace and his sibling′s academic and professional achievements are equaled and surpassed by many of his fellow Atlanta SCMS alumni. Among their number is a number of Ivy League University graduates, physicians, attorneys, professionals, including a National Basketball League professional athlete. For over 32 years,these Islamic schools have been continually producing these types of high caliber achievers... They are leading and competing at the highest levels of their respective careers, on a world class level, in virtually every science and endeavor.
The Atlanta Masjid regularly conducts Friday Jummah services with thousands of participants.
At this year′s Ramadan Eid celebration, thousands upon thousands of African Americans filled an entire Lakewood Fairgrounds exhibition hall from front to back for Eid prayers. Tens of thousands of Immigrant Muslims celebrated Eid prayers at Masjid Farooq in midtown.
And a few days later, thousands more filled Grant Park for the Annual Muslim Day Celebration., which sets attendance records each year.
Consistent with this pattern is the published facts that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. And the country that it is growing fastest in is America. And of all the groups in America, it is growing fastest in the African American community.
Truly Allah has Guided and Blessed Islam′s Progress in Atlanta, America and the world, , and Imam W.D. Mohammed′s leadership, vision and example has played an major, historic role in its success, growth and development.
All of these represent signs certain, that our Islamic future and leadership is in the good hands of this second generation of African American Muslims, now, and for generations to come.
Photos and captions and this part of the story by Curtis Sharif