Russell Simmons on Minister Louis Farrakhan

By Russell Simmons -Guest Columnist- | Last updated: Oct 2, 2009 - 3:34:40 PM

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Minister Louis Farrakhan: My Second Father

Russell Simmons
When we think of Minister Louis Farrakhan, we often think about the man who helped guide Muhammad Ali or the man who came up together in the Nation of Islam with Malcolm X. Do we ever think he's the man who helped hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of black people to love themselves? Well, we should.

When I grew up in Hollis, Queens there was a rehab, a mosque and a “Steak n' Take” on my corner, all of which where run by the Nation of Islam. There was also a heroin epidemic on that corner that was killing off our teenagers and young adults. Our parents would tell us that when we grow up we should make a choice to either join the army or “be a Muslim or something.” The Nation of Islam secured our housing projects, promoted dignity and transformed men with criminal pasts. Those men would then, in turn, raise refined, educated black children. Hard to dispute this. It took guys off the street and created a powerful, non-violent movement. The Nation of Islam has never been associated with any form of violence and always been about uplifting our communities and making a better future for black people. If you ask anyone from my generation, from any ghetto in this country, I promise you they have roughly the same experiences regarding the Nation's presence in their communities.

Certainly some of their preachers were fiery, especially in their pointing out the evils of white supremacy. They said some things in a way that was hard for most whites and some blacks to digest. For example, “THE WHITE MAN IS THE DEVIL.” We have to remember the climate of the country during this time. It was an all out war and the Nation was not about to back-down. The Nation of Islam, which was started by Elijah Muhammad and a white man named, Master Fard Muhammad, always pointed out that one day we would all live in harmony. Although this still isn't quite true, their message under the leadership of Minister Louis Farrakhan has evolved to fit the time.

It is true that some blacks are still not “free” and stuck in a slave mentality, due to the lingering affects of 400+ years of slavery. It is the recognition of this condition that the Nation continues its important work in ghettos across America, giving steady doses of spirituality or sense of higher self to many men and women who need it.

This past week, it was my honor to host the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan at my apartment in NYC. He was joined by his sons Louis Jr., Mustapha and Joshua Farrakhan, along with their personal chef and at least 75 security personnel. It was quite a scene to see how they set up shop at my apartment. This was a week where I didn't miss my 6 am prayer because I could hear them already awake and ready to start the day off right. This was a week where the word “Allah” was on the tip of everyone's tongue. And was a very special time when I got to hang with my “second dad” and my other brothers. We reminisced about the three marches where more than three million people marched on Washington. We talked about how we brought Snoop, Ice Cube and other LA rappers together with members of the east coast rap community and how he helped mediate the beef between 50 Cent and Ja Rule and countless other instances where he was there to help hip hop. And of course we talked about his keynote address at the hip hop summit that created the Hip Hop Summit Action network. We even mentioned a subject that the Minister doesn't care to discuss, his legacy. He has talked about the oneness of god for years, about the sameness of all religion and all people. He has given his followers spiritual roadmaps to happiness on Earth his whole life. I want future generations to know him as I do, so I am working to have his thoughts on this subject made into a book. I believe that his memoirs are going to be one of the most interesting and inspiring autobiographies ever written.

So that is my goal.

If America can know his heart, it will inspire millions of Americans for generations to come. It will happen with or without me, but I just thought writing this would be a good karmic expression for me, and a chance to reflect on a very special few days in my life.

(This article is reprinted from