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Politics, civic engagement and education go hand in hand

By James G. Muhammad -Contributing Editor- | Last updated: Mar 3, 2017 - 1:12:03 PM

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Panelists of the Civic Participation Task Force workshop share insight and information during Saviours’ Day 2017 in Detroit at the Cobo Convention Center. Photo: Final X
Michigan State Senator Bert Johnson (R) Workshop participants during Civic Participation Task Force workshop.

DETROIT (Cobo Center)—
Civic engagement and education must work together to gain control of Black communities and bring the resources required to make progress said participants in a Civic Participation Task Force workshop held Feb. 18 during Saviours’ Day 2017.

Workshop convener and long-time aide to Min. Farrakhan Leonard F. Muhammad said an outcome of the discussion was to establish the event as a permanent effort of the NOI and to engage others in Black communities.

“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said Islam comes when all else fails. Well, all else is failing, and from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad we still have the best ideas” for the new world order, he said.

Moderator Hugh Muhammad of San Diego explained four areas of engagement people must be active in to be effective: people, organizations, politics and economic development. The geography and vital statistic of the area of focus also must be known, he said.

Panelists included Student Minister Marcus Muhammad of Benton Harbor, Mich.; Greg Roberts, representing Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans; Chief Magistrate Maurice Muhammad of Bessemer, Ala.; educator Anthony Muhammad; Student Minister Tony Muhammad of Los Angeles; Final Call video department director Duane Muhammad who is a trustee in Dolton, Ill., and a candidate for mayor; Dr. Lydia Muhammad of Chicago; Student Minister Rodney Muhammad of Philadelphia; and Atlanta Student Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad. Muhammad University of Islam interim director Jason Karim of Chicago also made remarks.

vBro. Marcus Muhammad, who is mayor of Benton Harbor reminded the audience that all politics is local. Don’t say we’re going to have economic development and not have anybody in political office, he said, adding, all they have to do is change an ordinance to stop you.

Mr. Roberts called for the “breaking down of silos” that keep Blacks disunited. “The work we do in civic engagement can help to bring life to the dry bones” in the Black community, he said.

Demonstrating how politics impact education and the need for civic engagement to protect Black interests, Bro. Anthony Muhammad pointed out how the corporate-driven Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) resulted in drained resources from urban schools and became an excuse for privatization.

GERM implemented the use of standardized test scores which negatively impact urban public schools, he said. Our system is broken and if we keep schools the way they are, our children will not be able to compete, he said.

Educator Lydia Muhammad noted that when people say they don’t like politics, it’s not that they don’t like politics. You don’t like corruption. “Electoral politics rarely resembles its definition,” she said.

During his presentation, Student Minister Tony Muhammad invited Robert Kennedy Jr. to call in to discuss the latest developments in the vaccine-safety movement and the effort to have Congress subpoena Dr. William Thompson, a Center for Disease Control scientist and whistle blower of a CDC study that showed a significant rise of autism among Black boys who receive the Mumps, Measles and Rubella vaccine prior to 36 months of age.

Min. Tony has been touring the country calling attention to the study and reported that he feels activists may be close to getting the Congressional Black Caucus to hold a hearing on the issue.

In the audience was Michigan State Senator Bert Johnson. He told the audience that engagement with politicians must have a level of agitation, but always have paperwork and facts. He added that Muslims bring an innate level of agitation because they “get noticed” wherever they show up. Sen. Johnson stressed that the Black community must also back candidates financially.

“When you do that, we will respond,” he said.

The workshop ended with a special recognition of Nation of Islam director of fundraising Claudette Marie Muhammad for her extraordinary work as national director of protocol. The occasion also marked her 79th birthday and she was presented with flowers by Bro. Leonard and a standing ovation.