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Students respond to Farrakhan's message at UC Berkeley

By Charlene Muhammad and Jamo Muhammad | Last updated: Mar 13, 2012 - 1:40:11 PM

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Groups of Black students fi led into the auditorium to hear from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan on the campus of the University of California-Berkeley. Photo: Ashahed Muhammad
BERKELEY, Calif. - ( - Some students at the Afrikan Black Coalition’s Conference here approached the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s March 10 keynote address with mixed feelings and controversy.  But the world leader crushed the externally-manufactured controversy and thwarted attempts to separate him from a young generation of leaders.

After hearing Min. Farrakhan for themselves, some students didn’t agree with everything but they understood the Nation of Islam minister better and agreed with much of his message. Others heartily embraced the entire message and vowed to go back and spread the truth they heard. The Minister’s visit drew staunch opposition from Jewish student groups and leaders, who tried to prevent his speech to students and young leaders attending a weekend conference.

“To hear Min. Farrakhan’s speech, it was so beautiful because I felt as though I was hearing the voices of all of our ancestors crying out through him, speaking to us as the youthful generation,” said Taharka Anderson, a student at California State University-Long Beach.

For the last few months, the third year sociology and Africana Studies major has been watching Min. Farrakhan’s speeches to help motivate him to continue fighting for the liberation of Black people.  Min. Farrakhan’s lecture was the epitome of liberation, Mr. Anderson said.

(L-R) Amani Odom, outreach chair for the Black Student Union at UC-Berkeley pictured with Student Minister Keith Muhammad of Oakland, and Student Minister Christopher Muhammad of San Francisco. Salih Muhammad, Chairman of the Black Student Union at UC-Berkeley. Photos: Hasaan Muhammad
'I know that although a lot of my peers found some of the statements very controversial, I think it’s beautiful because I feel like our opinions aren’t challenged and we go to a very liberal school and we believe these liberal things but we’re not taught to stand up for anything, especially ourselves.'
—Univ. of California at Santa Barbara Student

“The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan really has become, in my eyes, the main person on the battlefront for African people and I definitely believe his speech will motivate the rest of us to continue doing what we’re doing in the midst of this White supremacy system that is strategically killing and miseducating us,” he added.

Kyle McCoy, a senior Americana and African Studies major at the University of California at Berkley, told The Final Call he felt a connection to Min. Farrakhan long before the campus visit. 

According to Mr. McCoy, his grandfather, Ed Clark, a native of Boston, grew up with Min. Farrakhan and his grandfather’s brother, Exie Clark, was one of Min. Farrakhan’s music teachers. 

Mr. McCoy called the conference the biggest conference he ever attended and was elated to see Min. Farrakhan in person. “The Minister’s message was a real good opening to reigniting the fire, especially the whole aspect of community leadership,” he said.

Sarah Traha, a second year Managerial Economics major at the University of California-Davis, found Min. Farrakhan’s speech very interesting and called him an articulate, passionate speaker. While she agreed with a lot of what he said and appreciates a lot of people got “riled up,” she didn’t agree with everything. “He focuses more on other people and how they’re to blame, but he doesn’t focus on the issues within our society and is quick to blame other people but doesn’t want any of the blame to be on the internal society, which I think is an issue in itself but other than that, I think he’s a very great speaker and I learned a lot from him,” Ms. Traha said.

A female student from the University of California at Santa Barbara found Min. Farrakhan’s speech empowering. “I know that although a lot of my peers found some of the statements very controversial, I think it’s beautiful because I feel like our opinions aren’t challenged and we go to a very liberal school and we believe these liberal things but we’re not taught to stand up for anything, especially ourselves,” said the young woman, who is majoring in Global Studies, Feminist Studies and English.

The Minister’s message about empowerment and Black culture reminded her of things she learned from her father. “He (her father) used to try to talk to me when I was younger and I used to disregard it but I’m learning it is more and more important as I get older,” she said.

Students listen attentively to the Minister March 10. (R) Kyle McCoy (left) a UC-Berkeley student pictured with family members following the Minister’s message. Photos: Charlene Muhammad

David Richardson of the University of California at San Diego called the message comprehensive and holistic. He liked how Min. Farrakhan connected health, law, science, education and lifted up community and brotherhood.

“The one thing I think I’m going to take away from today’s speech is the health factor and the idea that the powers that be are using food as a weapon to bring us down, degrade, and separate us. ... That’s the message I’m going to try to take home and spread to my peers and students I work with on a daily basis,” Mr. Richardson said.

Elaine Sims, an American Studies major at UC Berkley, graduates in May 2012 and said she found motivation to move toward her goals in Min. Farrakhan’s message. She also wants to do something to help awaken other seniors about to go into the world—even purchasing extra videos of Min. Farrakhan’s Saviours’ Day 2012 address to share with others.

“Today is one of the most profound days I’ve had here at the UC Berkley campus because I had the opportunity to hear the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan speak words of truth and wisdom. ... His wisdom, his truth, just resonates in every fiber of my being. I’m just so excited,” said Ms. Sims.

Related news:

Farrakhan at UC Berkeley: Reigniting Black campus activism (FCN, 03-13-2012)