Cheers for Minister Farrakhan
Hon. Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, came to Brooklyn last month to personally announce the 2005 Millions More Movement and to call for unity among Black leaders, Black men, Black women and the greater Diaspora family.
He spoke at the historic House of the Lord Church, pastored by The Reverend Herbert Daughtry, May 7, as keynote speaker for the 21st Century State of the Black World Forum organized by the Institute of the Black World (IBW).
The “Movement”, which will be held in Washington, D.C., Oct. 14 – 16 pays tribute to the 10th anniversary of the single largest gathering of Black men ever in America — The historic Million Man March, in which millions of people particpated, and millions more viewed throughout the world.
At a press announcement at the National Press Club in D.C. two weeks ago, Farrakhan said, “We called it a Millions More Movement. We already had millions at the Mall for the Million Man March. Our Sisters had millions in Philadelphia for the Million Women March,” this is a call to bring them together in the creation of a movement of unity of leadership across ideological, gender and other barriers.
The mission of the IBW (founded by Ron Daniels) is to uplift Black America and the global Black community, and they certainly were on that path with the minister’s two-hour presentation. But before the uplifting, there had to be an explanation of how things are.
With stories, metaphors, the Bible and the Koran, all laced with humor to break barriers and ease understanding, the minister told the overflowing crowd, “You are a great people and the enemy knows it”, and that is why they work so hard to “keep you from finding out who you are…there is a great conspiracy against your rise.” He spoke also of the co-conspirators within ourselves, a human nature “twisted like a pretzel” and formed by four hundred years of terror used as a means of control.
When Minister Farrakhan says “the enemy is working night and day to destroy our future,” and speaks of a “conspiracy,” many scoff and call it paranoia or worse, but the “enemy” is not necessarily five guys meeting once a week plotting the downfall of Black people, rather, he speaks to individual and institutional sins of commission and omission, the deliberate and the unthinking actions of society.
Whether it’s the criminal justice system, gentrification, beer that’s cheaper than water, or the millions of dollars spent creating marketing campaigns for fast-food meals of astonishing cholesterol and fat content targeted at Black consumers already besieged with health problems, there is a constant grinding down of the Black community.
When he says “the enemy makes death taste good to you”, Farrakhan is not just speaking about fast foods and hormones in the food supply causing “9-year-old girls to have Barbie in one hand and a sanitary napkin in the other,” but death for a race of people distracted by the sexual frenzy perpetrated by pop culture, the ease of letting the television raise the children and the marketing industry insistence that instant self-gratification is the best reward. “The enemy makes a sneaker with the Jordan image for $150…and then we rob each other, having allowed things to define us”, said Farrakhan.
The co-option of Black intellectuals and professionals was also spoken of. Coming out of college, they are “hidden away in corporate America,” with their salary, benefits and cars, thinking that by not being poor, they are doing something for the race. But Farrakhan says “the enemy is laughing because we are a destroyed people on a death march to social deterioration.” Emphasizing how “language has the power to change the way you think,” Farrakhan reminded that “everyone who has conquered us has inflicted us with their language,” and used it to divide us into speakers of English, Spanish or French but “Blackness unites us all.”
He spoke of the African liberation successes of the 50’s and 60’s and how Blacks were uniting and taking pride in being Black, “we saw we were not the minority but the majority. Churches began to have a liberation theology. When we opened the Bibles we began looking for ourselves.”
But something has happened says Farrakhan, and many in the new generation have lost the meaning of the struggle for freedom. That “something” can be seen as evidence of the enemy being afoot. The Counterintelligence Program, the infamous COINTELPRO operation of federal and local security forces, used any means necessary, killing, perjury, dirty tricks to destroy Black leadership. This was followed by the CIA-enabled crack epidemic, amply documented in Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance, which was nothing less than chemical warfare on the Black community.
That “something” can be seen in research by Human Rights Watch that shows “Blacks comprise 13 percent of the national population, but 30 percent of people arrested, 41 percent of people in jail, and 49 percent of those in prison. Nine percent of all Black adults are under some form of correctional supervision (in jail or prison, on probation or parole), compared to two percent of white adults. One in three Black men between the ages of 20 and 29 was either in jail or prison, or on parole or probation in 1995. One in ten Black men in their twenties and early thirties are in prison or jail. Thirteen percent of the Black adult male population has lost the right to vote because of felony disenfranchisement laws.”
That “something” can be seen in the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that HIV is the leading cause of death for African Americans ages 25-44 and that the AIDS rate for African American women in 2001 was almost 20 times that of white women and the statistics get worse with each year’s report.
That “something” can be seen in the poor performance of school systems around the country, the paucity of Blacks, particularly Black men, in higher education, and this as businesses require increasing levels of education, and can instantly access the needed brainpower, for the lowest price, anywhere in the world.
And yet through it all, says the minister, “In your madness, you rule the world.” Everywhere you look there are Black images on the walls of white children he says. Hip-Hop has white children enthralled. These are symptoms of the spiritual and creative essence that keeps the world captivated, and a life force which will not be denied but which needs assistance. “We have to remedy the condition we’re in. We have found the bottom and there’s no place to go but up.” Do not be discouraged, says Farrakhan. “There is a way out of all this.” A unity of leadership that spans the slave-era languages of the Diaspora, English, French and Spanish. A unity brought together by the condition of the people and the direction the country is taking, and coming together in the form of the Millions More Movement For Change on the 10th Anniversary of the Million Man March in October 2005.
It is to be a physical representation of a change of mind that is joining the leadership of different political stripes. “The NAACP board is 100% in support” and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference “wants to work with us to create a movement,” said the minister, saying also that Coretta Scott King and the Conference of Black Mayors, the “brilliant” Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton, were all supporters as well. “The family is coming together because we need to save our people.”
Farrakhan reminded the assembled that, “When the poor get together the rich fall off our backs and they don’t like that”, and this is a time to be ready. “They’ve knocked us down in the past but not this time… There is a balm in Gilead, our unity is the balm.”
“The minister’s message was right on the mark,” said community activist Bruce Green a few days after the meeting. “The community is so scattered with everyone looking out for themselves that they’re taking us off one by one. Bob Marley was right when he sang ,’They don’t want to see us unite, they don’t want to see us live together.'” A participant in the Million Man March, Green contends that the effort caused change in the community, “a lot of serious commitments were made and promises were kept.”
“The Millions More Movement is necessary to bring nationalists and politicians together,” continued Green. “The plight of black people is the important part of our situation. If you want to change the neighborhood, it has to be street by street and block by block. We see the common goal and work toward its solution. This is the beginning.”
David Mark Greaves