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Wisdom, wealth, power: Forum focuses on economics, family and proper education

By Richard B. Muhammad -Editor- | Last updated: Apr 3, 2013 - 11:13:05 AM

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Changing thought and action was the theme of the “Wealth, Education, Family & Community: A New Paradigm For Black America” forum March 30 at Sweet Holy Spirit Church in Chicago, which is part of an empowerment series being hosted in 30 cities. Photo: Hassan Muhammad

CHICAGO ( - Dr. Boyce Watkins opened the forum on economics, education and family by offering a stark tale of conditions faced by Black America and what was at stake. He recounted his daughter sharing sad news: A 3 year old had died when a teenager unloaded a gun into a home following an argument.

“Just a few years ago that 19 year old killer was also an innocent, sweet, loving 3, 4 year old child. He could have been anything, but guess what happened? When that child reached out to the world to give him love, we did nothing but fed him hate, when he was looking for someone to guide him, we abandoned him,” said Dr. Watkins.

Minister Farrakhan and Dr. Boyce Watkins Photo: Richard B. Muhammad

“He was made in America, he was created by us, all of us, because the adults around him did not grab on that boy and teach him what he needed to know to be an asset to his community and not a liability. Understand this, that when we choose to act or not to act, there will be an impact there will be a consequence,” he said.

Changing thought and action was the theme of the “Wealth, Education, Family & Community: A New Paradigm For Black America,” which is part of his empowerment series planned for 30 cities.

The point of the March 30 session was to discuss joint action to promote economic unity with a social conscience and a social impact with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, as the featured speaker. The Nation of Islam minister supported the ideas and program of Dr. Watkins, but started from a different place: “Wealth does not start from access to material things, wealth starts with your possession of knowledge,” Min. Farrakhan explained. It is proper knowledge that leads to productive, independent activity to create wealth, knowledge the enemy has never provided, he added.

The need for action

“Somebody is going to pay the price for our decision not to intervene. We got to do what it takes to save our community. There is no time for excuses and we got to do it right now,” said Dr. Watkins, who is a finance professor at Syracuse University and runs

Dr. Watkins’ formula begins with the development of individuals, and building families as the way to strengthen the Black community, despite racial oppression and the challenges Blacks face. Such development includes learning lessons in financial literacy, saving and investment, entrepreneurship and joint economic activity, and “extrication,” or out of school teaching by parents and community on Black history and additional training of Black children, Dr. Watkins said.

Blacks have lower levels of entrepreneurship when compared to other groups, he noted.

Bishop Larry Trotter welcomes Min. Farrakhan, left, Dr. Boyce Watkins and participants to his church for forum on wealth, education and family. Photo: Richard B. Muhammad
Citing a colleague’s analysis, Dr. Watkins said entrepreneurs are largely motivated by their opportunities to succeed, not constrained by fear of failure. But Blacks are so traumatized that the fear of failure is an obstacle as is a lack of commitment to Black businesses, he said. 

“We have to be willing to pay a little bit of a tax,” argued Dr. Watkins, talking about the need to support Black businesses. “The bottom line is not just profit and loss; the bottom line is what is it going to do for your community.”

“Wise people see us as valuable but we don’t see value in ourselves,” observed Min. Farrakhan. Miseducation has kept Blacks in a weak position, he said.

“Education that the White man gives is not the answer,” the Minister said. “If the education that you have now was the right education you would not be in the shape that we are in. (Dr. Watkins) would not have to sit here talking something about wealth because when you are educated properly, you are alive mentally. Then living people engage in business that gives them food, clothing, shelter, education, unity, power and strength. You don’t have that.”

Dr. Watkins provided a prescription for rising out of poverty, want and ignorance, the Minister said. But as the remains at a funeral represent someone who has ceased the activity of life,  the Black community is in deathlike condition and needs resurrection, he said.

Audience listens during March 30 forum.

What knowledge raised Malcolm Little to Malcolm X, a person of worldwide impact; Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, the world’s most popular heavyweight boxer who verbally defeated reporters and analysts; the late Imam W.D. Mohammed, who was acknowledged as an Islamic scholar, and Louis Farrakhan, who called nearly two million men to Washington, D.C. and is respected around the globe? asked the Minister.

It is knowledge from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, a man with a fourth grade education, who said he met with God, said Min. Farrakhan. It is complete knowledge of how to live and allows use of this world’s education to produce things, he said. 

Mr. Muhammad did not want to keep the knowledge to himself but freely shared it with his people and it is available to the world, the Minister said.

That knowledge found is in the books of Mr. Muhammad, How to Eat to Live and Message to the Black Man, the Minister added, urging the audience at Sweet Holy Spirit Church to get these important books.

“What he (the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) gave to tens of thousands of others that made us productive, he will do the same for you,” the Minister said. “The knowledge of God will make you into him. … When you’re a god you think like a god. Let us come together with a vision, say be, and organize our force to bring it into existence. That’s the way you live after your body returns to the earth. It’s by the institutions that we build for those who come after us.”

Lessons for economic progress

Daily efforts to support the community can start with immediate circles of influence exercising choices, said Dr. Watkins. That means targeted spending and using money as an empowerment tool, he explained. Targeted spending is needed to build Black wealth, even if the Black entrepreneur is forced to charge a little more than a corporate big box store, he said. The entrepreneur can create jobs that will help the community beat back social ills, Dr. Watkins said.

Minister Farrakhan urged the audience to take advantage of the wisdom offered by the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, and found in his books How To Eat To Live and Message to the Black Man in America. Photo: Richard B. Muhammad

The two projects available at focus on long term and widespread progress, he explained. A business incubator supports business promotion, building businesses, and financial literacy, while support groups help with saving and investment goals, and another component is educational empowerment, the professor said.

The educational focus is about helping children and helping parents educate their children outside of the public school system and in-school time, he said. 

Teachers and individuals, successful parents and share information so we can “liberate ourselves,” said the finance professor. 

“This is for people who care about Black children and I think it’s very important to say that because we’ve gotten to a point to where it’s not fashionable to care about Black people,” said Dr. Watkins.

Black children are being destroyed psychologically and delivered effectively brain-dead as adults, he said. “We are at war, this is not a game. Nobody can afford to sit on the sidelines, everybody must be involved,” said the analyst and author.

What if Malcolm Little had never met the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and used his brilliance to wreak havoc? he asked.

Rapper Lil Wayne and other young Black men are like Malcolm Little before he met Mr.  Muhammad, said Dr. Watkins.  

Asked by the audience how the power of corporations can be broken and wealth built, Min. Farrakhan said Blacks should come together to form a counterbalance. “One person can’t do it. But that corporate body has to meet a corporate body, not necessarily a corporation, but people cooperating because they have a common need and a common destiny and a common history,” he said.

Simply patronizing Black entrepreneurs will mean more success and more hiring, the Minister noted.

Just six cents of every Black dollar is spent in Black businesses but if that was doubled to 12 cents, it would create nearly 600,000 additional jobs for Black workers and reduce Black employment by three percentage points, he said.

The Hon. Elijah Muhammad asked Blacks to put away five cents a day in a common treasury, and with 16 million working Blacks giving 35 cents a week, in one year over $290 million would be accumulated, Min. Farrakhan noted.

A 70,000-acre farm with cattle is available for $34 million, with livestock for meat, and cowhide and leather for shoes and other products, he said.

Everything comes from the earth and when you have land you have the basis for capital development and production, the Minister said. “The wealth is out there for us to create and the more unity we have the better we will be. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said we have to learn the necessity of unity and group cooperation—that’s a necessity. And that’s how the enemy wins because he keeps us all divided, never trusting one another,” he said.

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