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A message to lift Memphis

By Ashahed M. Muhammad -Assistant Editor- | Last updated: Oct 22, 2009 - 12:41:48 PM

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The Nation of Islam engaged in extensive outreach in inviting youth and residents to the Cook Convention Center in Memphis to hear Min. Farrakhan’s message. Photo: Ansar-El
MEMPHIS ( - Though the city Memphis in ancient Egypt is known for its famous archaeological findings, including tombs of the dead still intact after thousands of years, the Nation of Islam brought a message of life and resurrection to the city of Memphis in the United States, the capitol of the mid-south.

Thousands of members of the Nation of Islam from all over the United States, and some from other parts of the world, made the journey to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the Million Man March and the Holy Day of Atonement.

Leading up to the Day of Atonement commemoration, Student Minister Anthony Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 55 along with Minister Farrakhan's assistant Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad went all over the city. They were determined to ensure everyone knew Farrakhan was coming to town, inviting young people, political and religious leaders and everyone else to hear the Minister deliver a life-giving and life-saving message of atonement, reconciliation and responsibility.

“Crime has spiked, youth violence is being experienced in Memphis just like many other cities across the United States, however, we are also experiencing among our Black leadership, the desire for change,” said Student Minister Anthony Muhammad, who was the host of this year's Day of Atonement observance.

In the week leading up to Min. Farrakhan's arrival, Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad went on a media blitz appearing on radio and television shows covering Metropolitan Memphis and the surrounding areas. He also spoke to hundreds of high school students; close to 500 at Booker T. Washington H.S., over 1,000 students at Raleigh Egypt H.S., and still more students at Hamilton H.S. As a result of generous sponsors and friends of the Nation of Islam, Student Minister Anthony said any students and their families who desired to hear Minister Farrakhan's message October 18 could attend free of charge—and many did.

There was strong outreach to the street organizations as well. Student Minister Anthony told The Final Call members of the Gangster Disciples, the Vice Lords, the Crips and the Bloods, all highly active in the Memphis area, said they wanted to come to hear Min. Farrakhan's message of redemption.

On Oct. 17, the day before Min. Farrakhan's address to the world, the men of the Fruit of Islam, from all across the country went out into the streets to apartment complexes in the Memphis area to invite them to hear the message.

A city in transition

Memphis is certainly a city in transition. On Oct. 16, the voters elected a new mayor, A.C. Wharton, who overwhelmingly defeated a crowded field of challengers in the special mayoral election. Mr. Warton won 60 percent of the vote with his nearest challenger gaining only 18 percent. Despite the margin of victory, Mr. Wharton won with only 30 percent of the eligible electorate voting.

In his acceptance message broadcast on local television stations here, Mr. Wharton called for unity, saying that he wanted to “win this war on crime,” and that he wanted to give the children of Memphis access to “a world class public education.

Former mayor Willie Herenton, a supporter of Mr. Wharton's during his campaign said “tough challenges” lie ahead for the newly-elected mayor. Citing the global economic crisis and its impact on states, counties and cities, he said the downturn is having “a devastating impact on urban America.” School funding and affordable housing is diminishing and cities are in “dire financial stress,” said Mr. Herenton.

According to the U.S. Census figures 61 percent, approximately 402,000 of its residents are Black and 33 percent, approximately 228,600, are White.

Mr. Herenton, who served as mayor from 1991 until June of 2009 when he resigned to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, said he would be available to counsel the new mayor as he navigates these issues.

During his keynote address, Min. Farrakhan reminded the crowd that although there are Black people in political leadership, there is still much to do to address the condition of the masses of the people.

“When you look at Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Susan Rice, all of the Blacks in government here and throughout America, these are brilliant Black people that show us that we can run a government, but what is the condition of the masses of our people?” the Minister asked.

State Representative Joe Towns, Jr., participated in a forum held Oct. 16 that represented a broad cross section of political, economic and spiritual leaders within the Memphis community. He was thankful that a man of Min. Farrakhan's prominence and stature would address the people of Memphis.

“As a man who is a world traveler, he hasn't forgotten this city and the young men and women here,” said Rep. Towns. “We are thankful that he would take time to come to this city and drop truth and understanding, even at this point with a Black president, there is still a lot of work to do,” he added.

Munir Usmani, director of the Usmani Foundation, a social services organization that does charitable work in Memphis, said he agreed with Min. Farrakhan's message of unity and inclusion.

“Definitely, he brought inclusion and the diversity was there no doubt,” said Mr. Usmani. “I think even from the audience gathered here, we had a diverse group here, and that message of unity is definitely something that we want in America for sure; this is the way to go.”

Mr. Usmani added that financially “everybody is feeling the pinch,” not just those who were already less fortunate to begin with.

Regarding his reaction to Min. Farrakhan's message, Mr. Herenton said, “Min. Farrakhan made it clear that with faith in God, we should go back to rebuild our communities and he beautifully, masterfully talked about the human body and I think he has inspired us to understand that if we can use the various systems of the human anatomy and then put them into some social, political and economic system, we can save ourselves from the enemy and rebuild. This was a powerful message.”

Student Minister Hilary Muhammad, the United Kingdom representative of the Nation of Islam, traveled to the Memphis from London to hear Min. Farrakhan's message in person. He told The Final Call that in following Min. Farrakhan's guidance, “the pain and suffering of Black people can be brought to an end.”

“I will take back to London from the message that we are such a blessed people and that we have received the one that the whole world has been looking and waiting for. And we must study ourselves so that we can appreciate the fact that we are the fulfillment of scripture and the one who has and was predicted to come to guide into that which God promised is here, living in the United States of America,” said Hilary Muhammad. “We are the generation to help him establish the kingdom of God,” he added.