True education starts with knowledge of self and God says Final Call editorBy FinalCall.com News | Last updated: Apr 16, 2014 - 5:31:40 PM
The Saturday conference in the ballroom of the downtown Doubletree Hotel attracted a cross section of Black Wilmington—Muslims, Christians, members of the Moorish Science Temple, Black nationalists and African traditionalists—for a discussion of learning, life and what the majority Black city should consider if progress is desired. The relatively small city in a state traditionally dominated by the wealthy DuPont family and heirs has seen increased violence and a decreased ability to effectively educate Black school children.
If one is educated, problems are an opportunity to apply knowledge to improve your life and solve your problems, said Richard B. Muhammad, who oversees the Nation of Islam newspaper. Mr. Muhammad and event organizer Lorraine Muhammad were presented with a proclamation from City Council President Theo Gregory and City Councilmember Nnamdi O. Chukwuocha.
Mr. Gregory said like many other cities across the U.S. public education in Wilmington is “a mess.” “We, as a community, have an obligation to openly discuss and debate education issues,” said Mr. Gregory, adding that in his city desegregation in the mid-1970s still effects Black children who are forced to go to schools outside of the community. There is no school district in Wilmington so students attend schools in four contiguous counties around the city, explained Mr. Gregory.
“We lost the developmental nurturing environment from the urban district that we had and now our kids are forced to go into the county and be in less than welcoming environments,” said Mr. Gregory. He hopes this inaugural conference will propel those involved to “agitate” and advocate for the educational development of Wilmington’s children.
City Council President Gregory supported the program financially and called education a vital issue. “My hope is that the city of Wilmington recognizes that we need to lobby and influence to assure that we have a strong voice and a voice in the education of our children,” added Mr. Gregory.
There are citizens in Wilmington making that happen.
After visiting LJ’s Playpen, a “five-star” daycare center owned by Larry Mathis and his wife Brenda, Mr. Muhammad shared his joy to conference participants at meeting an “educated” Black man. “Mr. Larry,” as the daycare center and contractor is known, is “educated” and there was no need to ask if he had a degree, said Mr. Muhammad.
True education allows you to define your interests and act in your own best interests, he added.
But, Mr. Muhammad continued, if we are only able to come out of school and ask others for a job and to solve our problems, it is clear we are not truly educated. The knowledge of self, respect for self and love of self are the foundation that is needed, he said. “It was the teachings of the Nation of Islam that made my journalism degree valuable”, Mr. Muhammad said. “Self-knowledge allowed me to see fully the purpose for knowledge which is service and to use my gift for our suffering people.”
“We need to know God is not some foreign source outside of who we are but the divine dwells in us and when we actualize that power, we can do whatever we desire to do,” he continued. We just need purpose and unity, he said.
After Mr. Muhammad’s remarks a panel discussed a variety of issues, ranging from health and vaccines to the virtue of modesty, the need to respect Black women, the need for independent education of Black children and the need for Blacks to purchase land to feed themselves.
Local hip hop artist Richard Raw brought the audience to its feet with his single “True Leaders,” which brought a powerful message about the need for Black empowerment and paid homage to historical figures in the freedom struggle. Vocalist Ebony Ali treated the crowd to an acapalla song that drew an ovation. African drummers performed and DJ Rock added music to the mix.
Lorraine Muhammad of Our Time Now, a local activist and member of Muhammad Mosque No. 35, invited longtime journalist Richard Muhammad to the city as part of efforts to enlighten residents and to promote unity. One of the projects that will come from the conference said Ms. Muhammad is a “speaker’s series” where activists and leaders can bring messages of unity and education to the public in Wilmington. Linking the Black community together to pool resources is also key, she added. “We’re putting people together in business, that’s what we’re looking for. We can talk all day long, but can we do something financially together,” said Ms. Muhammad.
The Fruit of Islam of Muhammad Mosque No. 35 provided security and service during the event and Muslims from Philadelphia, about 45 minutes away, came down to show support. Mr. Muhammad thanked his childhood friend Ronald Peele and his wife Michelle for coming up from the Baltimore-area for the event.
When he thanked the city council president, The Final Call editor accepted the proclamation on behalf of Min. Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam, The Final Call staff and the Fruit of Islam who take the truth to the public. “As my leader has said, we accepted this award as encouragement because we cannot take credit for a job that is not done and so long as our people are suffering the job is incomplete,” he added.