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Family Summit Weekend Focuses On Faith, Love And Unity

By Final Call News | Last updated: Aug 30, 2017 - 10:54:23 AM

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Atlanta, Georgia was the gathering for the Family Summit and Conference that brought together various communities for workshops dedicated to uniting the Original Family and working toward building families through faith. Photos: Lens of Ansar

ATLANTA—Hundreds gathered and converged at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel for the first Family Summit and Conference with the theme “Strong Families: The Foundation of a Great Nation.”
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Ati Hamid Cushmeer, an organizer and convener of the Family Summit and Conference. Photo: Lens of Ansar

Weekend highlights included workshops, plenaries and performances centered on solutions-based dialogue and using community assets to strengthen communities.

Conference Convener Ati H. Cushmeer put it this way, “We want to put forth a different type of approach to our problems. Oftentimes in our communities, whether Black, Latino, Native American, we are defined by our weaknesses and by our deficits.”

She asked the audience to call out perceptions attributed to their communities. Perceptions shouted were shrouded in violence, poverty, drugs, a lack of education, single-parent households and teen pregnancy. “One of the biggest things that you hear is that the Black male is missing. Well, let me debunk that myth,” said Ms. Cushmeer. Armed with Pew Center research, Ms. Cushmeer shared their findings. “It (study) basically said, that pound for pound, hours spent with their children, by-and-large Black men, spend the most time with their children than any other group of fathers across racial lines,” she stated.

This is residual impact of a pledged commitment two decades ago, when nearly two million men converged on Washington, D.C. in 1995 for the historic Million Man March, she continued.

Fathers committed to returning to their homes, reuniting with their families and being present as men, in their offsprings’ lives, observed Ms. Cushmeer.

“If you ask an average one of us to describe our community, we generally describe it in terms that we have to work together, as a unit and business is what will get us further ahead of our weaknesses. That has to be turned around, because you can’t problem solve based upon weaknesses,” she said. “We problem solve based upon strengths.”

“You can’t build a house on a weak foundation,” she added.

“The family is the nucleus of who we are as a people and so understanding that, we have to work together as a unit. This is what will get us further ahead,” panel moderator Armelia Cartier told The Final Call.

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Various presenters and panelists spoke on a variety of topics during the weekend including sessions on: Street Violence: Prevention Starts in the Home, The Family as a System and Introducing Strengths-Based Approach, Closing the Gaps and Building Unity Among the Indigenous People and much more. Photo: Erick H. Muhammad Photos: Lens of Ansar

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Audience enjoys program. Photo: Erick H. Muhammad

Chiming in on her point and mesmerized by the array of attendees and disciplines of the presenters was fellow moderator Jahi “Mr. Communicator” Muhammad, co-founder of a weekly radio show Mind and Money Matters.

“It highly emphasized us coming together as a family,” he said. So, presenters and moderators waived their honorariums and fees and wanted to be a part of the conference to build harmonious family and community units, he added.

Each day included spoken word and meditation exercises. Day one plenaries included “Family as a System,” including an impromptu presentation by Rudolph Muhammad and his team of Emergency Preparedness leaders. They gave instruction in a surprise, simulated crisis where participants were graded on their ability to survive as a group.

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Young man proposes to his courtship mate during Sunday’s program. Photos: Lens of Ansar

Other sessions focused on the culture of Street Violence: Prevention Starts in the House; The Family as Our Wealth and Power Base; Closing the Gaps and Building Unity Among the Indigenous People and a highly charged Interfaith Congregational Prayer that featured sermon, song and prayer traditions from Indigenous, Christian, Hebrew and Islamic believers.

Conference presenter Baba Wakesa O. Madzimoyo said, “My job, is to bring you deep level propagation, that can change our very lives, change our relationships and that of our families.”

Baba Wakesa and his wife of nearly 30 years, Mama Afiya, brought holistic tools and examples of community accountability and for academic and social development from their AYA Educational Institute, an African-centered, full day and home school learning center based in Decatur, Ga.

They shared their Family Lore Project as an example of how to share our community strengths. “Middle schoolers and high schoolers have to twice a week be in dialogue with their parents, grandparents, big mama and ’em. Uncles and aunts to ask about family literature, oral and written. What are some proverbs in the family? What are some stories in the family? Your responsibility is to put it in a collection. Twice a month, your language arts teacher asks you to go to your collection and bring out your family wisdom. It becomes the center of critical thinking and discussion.”

The couple said this practice reconnects family and extended family, in a society that offers nothing more than a cookie cutter, one size fits all education that’s disconnected, begins and ends with Black oppression and encourages dependence on the slave master’s children.

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Jr. Vanguard from Muhammad Mosque No. 15 perform drill exhibition during conference.

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Jr. F.O.I. from Muhammad Mosque No. 15 perform drill exhibition during conference. Photos: Coutney X

Day two of the conference did not disappoint. Sessions included intergenerational discussions on Strengthening and Preserving Family; Countering the Effects and Impact of the Civil/Criminal Justice Courts on our Families; Health Care and Caring for Our Heath and International Affairs in Uniting Families and Wealth.

Evening festivities included “Saturday Night Swag,” the Family Summit conference’s entertainment showcase.

Nzinga Muhammad, 17, and her brother, Ayinde Muhammad, 19, enjoyed the interactivity of the workshops and Ayinde enjoyed the interfaith sessions and ceremonies.

The Atlanta Jr. F.O.I. and Jr. Vanguard Drill Teams performed to the delight of the Saturday Night Swag attendees.

Na’il Muhammad, 21, of Los Angeles, especially enjoyed the performances of Goalden Chyld and 360 We God. “They got the key. They got the recipe to bring righteous but not corny, at the same time,” he said.

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Vocalist serenades. (R) Performers demonstrate African dance.
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Drummers rhythmic performance had the audience excited. Photos: Erick H. Muhammad (R) Vocalist Nubia Emmon performs Photos: Lens of Ansar

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Black business owners and vendors display their goods and services. Photos: Erick H. Muhammad

Each day of meetings, attendees submitted surveys evaluating the strengths of the sessions while adding additional feedback.

Leonard Dunston, board member of the Institute of the Black World and co-chair of the Million Man and Million Family marches, told The Final Call that Black people suffer from a syndrome of post-traumatic slavery disorder. He introduced the “African-American Community Programs Concept. A plausible, analysis of what needs to be done to enhance the quality of life in the Black community,” he said during the Health Care and Caring for Our Health plenary session.

“A lot of it is still just giving back,” began presenter Haqq Andre Muhammad, CEO of Nu Republica financial organization, when he presented at the summit.

“I think financial literacy is critical for the state of every Black man and woman. And I think that trying to organize something systematic, so we can blueprint a specific path so people can gain some economic liberation,” he said.

The CEO told conference attendees the U.S. annual tax return in the Black community is an estimated $300 billion.

Approximately a third of the $1.3 trillion spending power of Blacks and is nearly spent annually on used cars and refurbished items each year, he added.

“You cannot have spending power without payroll power,” argued Prof. Devin Robinson, CEO, Urban Business Institute & CEO of the Beauty Supply Institute.

He emphasized the absolute need for Blacks to work to attain “true spending power” through entrepreneurship. “True spending power only comes through generating ownership income,” he said.

Mini-Saviours’ Day reunion

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The 2017 Family Summit and Conference, organized by members of various organizations including the Nation of Islam, Local Organizing Committees (Justice or Else), Young People in Action International, Center for Strong Families, The Winning Circle and more, in order to work toward strengthening Black families. In the top row, fourth photo from the left, Nation of Islam pioneer Abdul Rahman Muhammad, with members of his family including his grandson Yasin F. Muhammad and his son Wali. Photos: Erick H. Muhammad Photos: Lens of Ansar

Conference participants came from as far west as California down through Mexico, through the hurricane embattled Southwest panhandle region of Texas; up, across and through the Southeast and Eastern seaboards and as far as Canada. Members of the Nation of Islam, supporters of Minister Farrakhan and networking by the Healthy Relationships Initiative, Inc., Center for Strong Families, Inc., and Young People in Action, International, Inc., brought people from throughout North America.

Social media was abuzz as attendees tweeted, posted live streams, pictures and text messages, showcasing the brilliance of Black thought and remedy.

“I’m excited by the seminar presentations and to be able to take it back to my city for myself and my community,” said James Muhammad of Texarkana, Texas. “This conference is timely because the family is the basic unit of civilization, we have to get our families together, so we can get our Nation together.”

Joyce Muhammad of Jacksonville, Fla., attended the conference because she is involved with families in her community. “The highlight for the conference for me has been the multicultural nature of the participants,” she said.

Sadia Nuhu from Ghana spoke at the banquet, identifying with the Black American experience and her country’s colonization by the British. “I will return to my community knowing that I participated in something that was bigger than me,” she told The Final Call.

Amatullah Muhammad, daughter of Student Minister Abel Muhammad, like many described the conference as being a mini-Saviours’ Day, the Nation’s annual convention. “It’s nice to just see all of the Believers from other communities coming together,” she said.

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Dr. Ridgely Muhammad, Student Minister of Agriculture for the Nation of Islam and Farm Manager of Muhammad's Farm in Georgia with his wife Anne Muhammad. Photo: Lens of Ansar

Recounting what she learned about how to repair the family, deal with the prison system, health and the international scene, Tampa, Fla., Nation of Islam member Yaterah X called the weekend awesome and fulfilling. She discovered “foundational stepping stones for us to talk about” when discussing the different aspects of family.

The summit concluded with words of praise, instruction and guidance from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan about Allah (God’s) desire for perfection and the role the summit assumes in perfecting the will of God by perfecting the approach to true and righteous development of family.

(Eric Ture Muhammad, Michael Z. Muhammad, Anisah Muhammad and Khadirah M. Ture Muhammad contributed to this report.)

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