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A special bond, special anniversary in D.C.

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Jun 12, 2013 - 12:05:49 PM

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A capacity crowd filled Union Temple Baptist Church to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Rev. Willie Wilson’s ministry and to hear a message from Min. Louis Farrakhan. Photos: Courtney X Powell

WASHINGTON ( - Like the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad before him, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has long shown a sincere affection for Washington, D.C., the national capital area.

Mr. Muhammad built, from the ground up, the first venue used by the Nation of Islam dedicated exclusively for Islamic worship. That location—at 1519 Islamic Way—is still used by the American Muslim Mission as a mosque more than 50 years later.

Min. Farrakhan embraces Rev. Willie Wilson.
Mr. Muhammad’s speaking appearances here are also the stuff of local legend. Just 17 years after he was arrested by the FBI here in order to take him off the streets for preaching against Black participation in the U.S. armed forces during World War II, Mr. Muhammad was given flashing-lights, sirens-blasting escort from National Airport to the Uline Arena to deliver a speech in 1959.

Min. Farrakhan of course addressed the largest gathering of Black men in history when he convened more than 2 million attendees at the steps of the U.S. Capitol here, for the Million Man March in 1995.

But before that, going back practically to the time he first set out to restore the Nation of Islam based on Mr. Muhammad’s teachings, Min. Farrakhan has spoken repeatedly in Washington.

For a six month stretch in the early 1980s, the Muslim leader spoke each and every Wednesday evening at the historic Phyllis Wheatley YWCA, hosted there by the Y’s executive director Mrs. Lillie Van Landingham, Min. Farrakhan’s former classmate at Winston-Salem College.

But no bond in Washington has been stronger than that between Min. Farrakhan and the Rev. Willie Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church, who also served as national chairman of the Million Man March.

A few years after he became pastor of Union Temple in the city’s struggling Anacostia neighborhood in 1973, the church had grown to 800 members when the Rev. Wilson invited Minister Farrakhan to speak from his pulpit. It was the Minister’s first address in Washington after he set out to rebuild the Nation. After Min. Farrakhan’s remarks, 400 members left the church.

But the Rev. Wilson held on as leader of the congregation, leading it to even greater prosperity than before, purchasing homes in the neighborhood to make affordable housing available, building a new modern sanctuary, and attracting an even larger membership of worshippers attracted to the pastor’s Africentric messages and his liberation theology.

Woman enjoys services at Union Temple Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
Over the years, Minister Farrakhan has spoken often in Washington—at Howard University, at 45-year-old Ujamaa School, the oldest independent Black school in the Nation, and elsewhere—but he has not spoken anywhere in Washington as often as he has spoken at Union Temple Baptist Church, the home of Minister Farrakhan’s “dear brother, companion, friend, and worker in the vineyard of the Lord, companion in struggle,” the Rev. Wilson, and the Minister’s own declared “second home.”

On the occasion of the Rev. Wilson’s 40th pastoral anniversary, after both speakers were led into the sanctuary with a dramatic drum procession featuring dancers and youth carrying the flags of African nations, and a musical prelude by Ayanna Gregory, daughter of civil rights icon Dick Gregory, Min. Farrakhan addressed the subject of the Rev. Wilson’s church career: “Preserving prophetic presence in historic Anacostia and the World.”

“It is foolish for an oppressed people, not to search for the path of unity, which could end their oppression, almost overnight,” Min. Farrakhan said. “Life feeds on life,” the Minister continued. “We are alive because we fed on something to keep us alive. If you fed on the mess that is in the local, death-dealing, fast food stores, you are showing already the signs of death,” Minister Farrakhan said reminding the cheering audience that his fit, strong appearance was coming just days before his own 80th birthday, hoping that he might see 40 more.

A person cannot eat dirty food and think clean thoughts, the Muslim leader warned the church. And in order to have the best food, our people should learn and begin to grow it ourselves. “And if you don’t know how to eat, then you don’t know Jesus. Because the Jesus that I believe in, he said, ‘I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.’ Jesus did not come to show you where the dentist’s office is.

Man in audience at Union Temple displays copy of Message to the Black Man by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Min. Farrakhan spoke at the Sunday service marking the 40th anniversary of Pastor Willie Wilson’s ministry. Photo: Andrea Muhammad
“Jesus did not come to show you to the Korean wig shop. Because we spend too much time on the outside, and not enough time on the inside, where the real person lives. And then put on clothes that don’t make you look like you belong to the world of prostitutes.” Our exterior appearance and dress often reflects the condition of our minds, he said.

Satan is among our people, but we don’t recognize him, Minister Farrakhan advised. Likewise, we do not recognize “The Father,” among us. “Listen to Jesus’s words. ‘Have I been among you this long and you have not seen Him?’ Sometimes you don’t know who you’re looking at. He said, ‘When you see me, you see the Father. For I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Me and my Father are One.’ Jesus reached the destination where he is, that we might be also.”

Another topic of immense concern, the Minister pointed out, is the treatment of women, who have been objectified in this modern world. “See, you’ve made a woman into a thing. How dare us think and degenerate her to think that she is only a thing that can only be satisfied by giving her things. But Jesus said, ‘Seek ye first, the Kingdom of God … and … and … and … all its righteousness…then all things will be added unto you.

“Your wife, your woman is a spiritual creature. She’s not a thing. And until we become spiritual men that feed the spirit of a woman, then anything you give her will be unsatisfactory because she’s the woman of God and not the woman of man,” the Minister declared.

“A woman is the greatest gift of God to a man. There is no greater gift for a man to have, than to have a good woman. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said to me, ‘There’s no such thing as a no-good woman.’ He said, ‘Every no-good woman was made no good, by a no-good man.’

“You’re not going to rebuild the Black man, until you start bringing that man back to God. Then he’s worthy—listen to what I said—then he’s worthy of a woman, because as sure as you’re looking at me and I’m looking at you, there’s so much dissatisfaction of the male with the female and the female with the male, that you cannot build the church, you cannot build the community, you cannot build a nation, you cannot build the kingdom until we straighten out what is between us as men and women.

Dancers performing at Union Temple in D.C.

“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that a woman is the field of man, through which he produces his nation.” He likened the woman to the Earth itself. The Earth is so magnificent that you have to be careful, how you handle the Earth because you came from the Earth—this body. And it can only be maintained and sustained and furthered by your proper connection to the Earth.

“So the better I take care of this Earth, is the better I’ll be able to take care of me. Because everything I need to make a heaven for myself is right in this Earth. I can never own it, but I can be a steward of it. You can never own the woman in your life, but you can learn how to be a good husband. We are far from where God wants us to be here.

“I’m just trying to get us to see how valuable we are. How valuable the Earth is, how valuable a woman is. If we treat the Earth right—because everything we need is found in the Earth. Everything you need to make a heaven for yourself is found in a woman,” Minister Farrakhan said.

“I wish you could understand how sacred the female is. She’s not a plaything. And sisters, you must never allow yourself to be used by no man as a plaything. She’s more than a creature to give pleasure. She’s a thinker. She’s your partner.

“She is not to walk behind you, but to walk beside you, and sit down together and plan a future for a nation. She’s qualified to run government. She has the ability to run the army, the navy, to drive planes and ships. She can do practically anything that a man can do, and there’s one thing—no matter how much you want to be her—you just can’t produce life. The nature of a woman—so teaches the Holy Qur’an—she’s the natural consoler of a man. She’s your comforter, your consoler.

“So when she and you sit down as a unit, you can plan for the future of your family. She’s the same in government. The problem with America is, it’s been run by men and there are not enough women standing beside men to straighten them when they go crooked, or to encourage men,” the Minister declared.

“A silent woman is the companion of the devil,” Minister Farrakhan said, recognizing the prophetic presence at Union Temple Baptist Church, provided not only by the Rev. Willie Wilson, but by his co-pastor and companion every step of the way over the course of his 40 years—the Rev. Mary Wilson.