Maurice Symonette, a.k.a. Michael the Black Man, founder of Blacks for Trump, was a former member of the Nation of Yahweh, a violent religious cult based in Miami, The Intercept reported.
The Nation of Yahweh was founded by Yahweh Ben Yahweh (whose government name is Hulon Mitchell Jr.) in 1979 and gained a sizeable following. The group's headquarters known as the "Temple of Love" was established by Yahweh as an offshoot of the Hebrew Israelite sect and members believed he was the Son of God.
The cult was at the center of controversy throughout the 1980s and ’90s for its violent reputation and separatist practices.
In 1990, the FBI arrested Yahweh Ben Yahweh, along with a dozen of his followers, on 18 charges of racketeering, including 14 killings, extortion, and arson, Eventually, a jury found Yahweh Ben Yahweh guilty in connection with the plotting of 14 murders. He served 11 years in prison where he remained until his death in 2007.
Symonette, whose birth name was Michael Woodside, was among the cult members that were charged in two of the murders; he was acquitted. After the trial, he changed his last name to Symonette, his father’s surname, before “eventually reinventing himself as Michael the Black Man, a pirate radio preacher who delivered broadsides against gays and Democrats.”
Although he has known ties to the cult, he’s been a fixture in the audience at Trump rallies since 2016.
At a rally in Sanford Florida, Trump applauded Symonette for his “Blacks for Trump” sign and two weeks later, he was invited to Trump’s election night victory party held at the Hilton in New York City.
According to his website, Symonette promotes various extremist ideas claiming that President Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson, Spike Lee, Colin Kaepernick, and Rep. Maxine Waters are “DECEIVING [sic] FAKE BLACK PEOPLE WHO ARE REALLY INDIANS!”
In a Facebook post last year, Symonette still claims allegiance to Yahweh and even asked Trump to pardon the deceased cult leader.
“PARDON Yahweh Ben Yahweh,” Symonette wrote. “We will Gather the millions Black Yahweh’s of who I’ll get to advocate for Republicans like Yahweh taught us the ultimate Revolt! & Now Black, Latin & White will Unite & Win For Trump! 2020, 2024, 2028 & forever!”