The Nation returns to Detroit!By Ashahed M. Muhammad -Assistant Editor- | Last updated: Feb 11, 2014 - 10:34:39 PM
Organizers: Convention, Farrakhan’s message will help with a needed shift in ‘The Motor City’
(FinalCall.com) - Detroit has been through a lot over the past decade.
Forbes magazine, in its annual list of America’s “Most Dangerous Cities” and using statistical data from the FBI’s crime reporting database had Detroit at the top of their list for the last five years in a row.
Images of the city’s shuttered businesses, vacant lots, and abandoned boarded-up homes are commonly used to illustrate the manifestations of mismanaged affairs and neglect leading to urban blight.
According to U.S. Census figures, between 2000 and 2010 the city’s population fell by 25 percent. Once in the top ten of the largest American cities, Detroit now ranks 18th with a population of just under 714,000. It remains a cultural, business and financial center, and despite gentrification, Detroit is still nearly 83 percent Black.
The city saw the political rise and fall of the man dubbed the “Hip-Hop Mayor” Kwame Kilpatrick, the appointment of an emergency manager, a position currently held by Kevyn Orr, and in last November’s elections, residents chose Mike Duggan, their first White mayor in 40 years.
Depending on whom you ask, there are a range of opinions describing Detroit as a hidden gem, a dead city, a crime-ridden wasteland, or place poised for a comeback.
It is not all bad news. The city’s violent crime rate went down in 2013, but the murder rate is still more than 10 times the national average and the highest among large metropolitan areas.
“People in Detroit are looking for solutions to their social problems,” said Mr. Walid. “The people here have a very ingrained respect for the voice of the Muslims,” he added.
Mr. Walid, who was born in Detroit, said despite media images, many love the city, care about what happens economically, spiritually and politically, and want to participate in revitalization efforts.
“The majority of the residents care about the state of the city, everyone’s not trying to leave and it’s frustrating because there appears to be a concerted effort to change how Detroit looks, which means that there was an intentional marginalization of the residents,” Mr. Walid said.
An example of this marginalization and disenfranchisement was the establishment of emergency management to direct the affairs of the city, say critics. Detroit’s electorate voted overwhelmingly against appointment of an emergency manager, however, during a lame duck session, the state’s legislature overrode the votes of city residents, taking power away from the mayor, the city council, and appointed an emergency manager anyway. The reason used to usurp power was the city’s debt and dire financial condition.
“As of right now, democracy is dead in Detroit,” said Mr. Walid.
The state saw appointing an emergency manager as a solution that would prevent conditions from deteriorating to a level where the local government would be unable to provide basic services for its residents. They also identified financial problems related to the city’s ability to pay creditors and their inability to make payments into pension contributions.
Into that landscape, the Nation of Islam brings this year’s Saviours’ Day convention home to its historic birthplace in North America. Each year, to commemorate the birth of founder Master W. Fard Muhammad (February 26, 1877), thousands from across the country and some from around the world make the pilgrimage to experience fellowship, networking, informative workshops and spiritual renewal. The Cobo Center is this year’s convention main location with activities and workshops Feb. 20-22. Workshops will deal with establishing an economic base for Black people in America. The keynote message scheduled for delivery Feb. 23 by Minister Farrakhan is titled “How Strong is Our Foundation; Can We Survive?”
In 2007, the last time Saviours’ Day was held in Detroit, then-Mayor Kilpatrick rolled out the red carpet for the Nation of Islam welcoming tens of thousands of conventioneers to the city, culminating in a speech by Minister Farrakhan to over 40,000 people at Ford Field. This year, convention organizers say thousands are expected, and if the hotel bookings are any indication, their expectations appear correct with the majority of the reserved rooms sold out weeks prior to the gathering.
Members of the Nation of Islam’s historic Muhammad Mosque No. 1 in Detroit have been working non-stop around the clock to make this year’s convention a success. Detroit representative of the Nation of Islam, Student Minister Troy Muhammad, met with Mayor Duggan, and said the mayor pledged to work with the Nation to improve the community. Ishmael Muhammad, national assistant to Minister Farrakhan, spoke before the Detroit City Council on Feb. 6.
Troy Muhammad said Wayne Community College recently purchased $5,000 worth of tickets for students to attend Minister Farrakhan’s Feb. 23 address and reported brisk ticket sales throughout the community. On Feb. 1, he and Dr. Ava Muhammad appeared on WCHB 1200AM/99.9FM to discuss Saviours’ Day. She also spoke at Muhammad Mosque No. 1 on Feb. 2.
“This Saviours’ Day 2014 in Detroit represents, in my humble opinion, the launching pad for the exodus of the descendants of slaves out of America as was prophesied in the book of Genesis when God told Abraham of this tragic sojourn that his people would make. We’ve been here half a millennia,” said Dr. Muhammad. “Every indication is telling us that this is the moment.”
Dr. Muhammad said Detroit is the microcosm of the macrocosm as it relates to Black nation in America. The lack of industry and jobs, economic stagnation and lack of wealth have created conditions indicating that heeding Minister Farrakhan’s call for separation is the only answer.
“Not only do we have the guide in Minister Farrakhan, but White America has made it clear through their words and actions that they are through with Black people,” said Dr. Muhammad. “There is no labor that they can get for free, and since their economy is built on free labor, they have no use for us,” she added.
Student Minister Troy Muhammad agreed. He believes during the Saviours’ Day convention, the Nation of Islam will offer a vision of unity, cooperation, and productivity that will produce a “world-changing” shift.
“There’s going to be a shift,” said Troy Muhammad. “Everyone should want to be a part of this shift, to be in the front row to hear what Minister Farrakhan has to say, because I think it is going to not only change Detroit, but it is going to change the world,” he added.
(To register for the convention, purchase tickets for the main address, get information on vending opportunities and to see the schedule, visit http://www.noi.org/saviours-day.)