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Farrakhan: Proper education promotes problem solving, not just making money

By Ashahed M. Muhammad -Assistant Editor- | Last updated: Apr 7, 2014 - 10:10:15 AM

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CHICAGO ( - Students, faculty and community members packed the Bruce Cherry Theater at Olive-Harvey College on the city’s south side to share views on the importance of education, and to hear solutions to the problems of crime and violence plaguing the Black community.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, a special guest speaker, agreed that education is important. But, said the Nation of Islam minister, more importantly, students and their parents should be interested in the quality and type of education being received. This is key in the process of community empowerment and violence prevention, he said.

“The problem starts with education and the problem will end with the proper education,” said Min. Farrakhan. “It is not enough to have an education, but we must have the right education, the proper education that allows the one who is educated to use his gifts, skills and talents to solve the problems of his or her time.”

The kingdom that God invites his people to be part of must be rooted in knowledge so profound that it destroys the artificial barriers and lies presented as truth within education, the Minister explained. With the knowledge of God and self, there is nothing that a young student is unable to accomplish, he said.

“Don’t tell me you can’t learn. You can learn anything you put your mind to if you understand you are a direct descendant of God,” said the Minister. “When you are truly educated, you do not see problems that overwhelm you, you see an opportunity to prove your connection to God.”

Students present from several of the Chicago City Colleges March 28 were given the opportunity to question panelists following comments dealing with education, community relations, and violence prevention.

The Minister said educators and students must work to bring into reality “God’s view and God’s vision for the future. That future cannot happen in a vacuum, it is going to take human beings of knowledge to bring about a circumstance that destroys bitterness and hatred between different racial and ethnic groups,” said the Minister. “That is a tremendous undertaking and the quality of education that we have received thus far is insufficient to qualify us for that task.”

White racism and oppression should not be used as an excuse for lack of Black achievement, in fact, it should be used as fuel to bring out the greatness that lies within, he said.

“White oppression should make Black genius,” said the Minister. “Do you know how to end White racism? Black excellence ends White racism.” 

Panelists share ideas, answer questions

Cook County Clerk Dorothy Brown, who was a panelist, listed the benefits of higher education in terms of increased income, self-worth, activism, health and community involvement. Her parents were poor and uneducated, however, they were committed to ensuring that their eight children went to college, she added. As a result, seven of these children finished college with bachelor’s degrees, six have master’s degrees, two are attorneys, one is a certified public accountant, and one has a PhD.

“My family is a perfect example of how education can take you out of poverty,” said Mrs. Brown. “Use your education to give back to the community and to make a difference,” she added.

There are those who did not receive a college degree and still turned out fine—and may even make more money than college graduates—but that is an aberration and not the norm, said Mrs. Brown.

Min. Farrakhan also made the point that quite a few with degrees are working at minimum wage jobs because of the “economic turndown” plaguing in the country. If education is being sought simply to find a job and not preparing students to create jobs, then the education has not prepared the student for the reality of Black life in America, said the Minister.

Olive-Harvey Student Government Association President Yvette Day, a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society, delivered heartfelt words describing her journey from a student who did not think she fit in with the rest of the students at the school, to representing the student body. She feels connected to the struggle of the students because she takes the time to talk to them and does not judge them.

The Bruce Cherry Theater at Olive-Harvey College was filled March 28 for the forum.
“Our students come from all over this community and our community is at risk,” she said. “We’re here to make sure that we get some answers and some clarity and bring forth a conscious awareness.”

Ms. Day shared how she was somewhat afraid when it came to thinking about college as many high school and younger students may feel. “Release the fear, because fear holds us back, and we need to move forward,” said Ms. Day.

She will lead busloads of students to Springfield, Ill., the state capitol, April 2 as advocates for a $65 million allocation of financial aid for community college students.

Dr. Wiley Rogers, a popular professor at Olive-Harvey, described what students experienced in the 1960s, when he was in college, as a “cakewalk” compared to what students in college today are dealing with.

“You have a tremendous struggle confronting you,” said Dr. Rogers. “You will have to get prepared to save your democracy and to defend your people and you cannot do it if you cannot think.”

Gun violence is the end product of a long chain of neglect, failing schools and lack of community resources, said Dr. Rogers, speaking to one of the issues discussed by fellow panelists and students. “Violence is a symptom of something else,” said Dr. Rogers. “The cause of violence is isolation and fear, the cause of violence is institutional neglect.”

Mrs. Brown agreed.

“Our children need the afterschool programs,” said Mrs. Brown. “They need to be funded,” she noted.

“This is not rocket science we’re talking about here. We know where the problems lie and we need to make sure we are addressing them,” Mrs. Brown said. “We are all links in the chain of the success of society.”

Student Government Association Vice-President Nathan Poinsette described bringing Min. Farrakhan to Olive-Harvey as a “magic moment,” during his introduction of the Minister. Mr. Poinsette told The Final Call the event was two years in the making. He also said his life was changed after hearing an audiotape lecture by the Minister in the mid-1980s.

He felt “starstruck for a moment” once he realized Minister Farrakhan was actually at the school, then he quickly got back on task remembering the purpose of the event.

“The community, the school, we are not in a good place, and somebody needed to address the situation, and as SGA vice president, I had the power to try to open up a format for this dialogue to happen, and I felt that I would have been less than a student leader if I didn’t do everything in my power possible to bring a wise word to a crazy situation, so it was a sense of relief,” said Mr. Poinsette. “They heard the word and to me, you cannot hear the truth and walk away and still live a lie.”

Reactions to the message

Student organizers said this event was not a pep rally, and the next step is to build off the event.

Taudjie Dean, 20, is a business administration and early childhood development major with a minor in nursing. This was the first time she had heard Min. Farrakhan in person.

“He’s a great speaker and he inspired me a lot. I also studied Elijah Muhammad before and to know he met Elijah Muhammad in person, it was surprising,” she said.

Vanessa Martinez, 23, was “delighted” to be a part of the event. “What Minister Farrakhan touched on regarding the lack of right and proper education is very true and very important,” said Ms. Martinez. “We’re getting degrees with no real education, like W.E.B. DuBois said we’re just teaching humans to make money.”

Ms. Martinez said she came from poverty, but now with her present educational focus, she is rising out of it. She has two children, a two-year-old, and a six-year-old, and they motivate her to keep going. Her experience as a victim of domestic violence inspires her to want to make a difference in the area of criminal justice, her major.

Katrina Melton, a sociology major with the desire to work with inner city youth, and is currently the SGA treasurer. She also hopes to be the next SGA president and enjoyed the panelists and solutions offered. “A lot of issues are not being addressed in my community,” said Ms. Melton. “We have to put forth effort and make sure that we work together in unity,” she added.