WEB POSTED 03-10-2000
70 year Commemorative of The Nation of Islam in North America

"He will carry you across the river on his shoulders"
Farrakhan continues Hon. Elijah Muhammad's mission

As Black America enters into the new millennium, no other mass movement has impacted upon the world scene like the Nation of Islam.  Its message of moral and spiritual renewal, self-improvement, economic responsibility and political empowerment has electrified a wide cross-section of Black people all over the world.  Over the last 20 years, no other leader has addressed the pressing issues of the day facing the descendants of slaves as has the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.

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The Nation of Islam

Given the success of the Million Man March, with its themes of atonement, personal responsibility and reconciliation, Min. Farrakhan and his supporters are preparing to reconvene in the same location that they had in 1995, but this time they will celebrate the Million Family March, be it the will of God.  This unique event in world history has put the spotlight on one of the 20th century’s chief students of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in ways social scientists have yet to measure.

For a better understanding of the man and what he stands for, the following biographical sketch gives a brief glimpse into the time and circumstances that Min. Farrakhan has experienced and endured in service to Black people and the oppressed worldwide.

Amidst the Great Depression, Min. Louis Farrakhan was born Louis Eugene Walcott on May 11, 1933, in New York City.  At the age of 3, he and his family moved to Boston, Mass.  He is the son of Sumayyah Farrakhan (1900-1988) and Percival Clarke, whom he did not meet.  His mother reared him in a highly disciplined and spiritual household.  Alvan, his older brother, died in 1994.

At an early age, his mother exposed him to music, art, culture and history.  Black newspapers and magazines like the Crisis were popular in his household.  His mother, at great personal sacrifice, sponsored her children’s music education, Alvan on piano and Louis on violin.

In his young teens, Min. Farrakhan performed with the Boston College Orchestra and the Boston Civic Symphony. Soon he would receive national recognition after winning first place on the historic “Ted Mack Amateur Hour” television program.

After graduating from the prestigious Boston Latin High School, he entered Winston-Salem Teachers College in North Carolina, on an academic and athletic scholarship, majoring in English.

In September 1953, during his senior year, he married his childhood sweetheart, Betsy Jean, who is today known as Mother Khadijah Farrakhan.  To support his young family, he left college and began his career in show business.  On the performing arts stage he became known as “The Charmer” and was highly acclaimed as a vocalist, actor, musician and composer.  Commentators, during the 1950s, acknowledged his versatility and deftness in all the popular genres of the time including calypso, classical, jazz and blues.  

While on tour appearing at the prestigious Chicago supper club, Gene Sperling’s Blue Angel, a friend from Boston invited young Louis to attend the Nation of Islam’s 1955 Saviour’s Day convention.  Upon hearing the message of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, he immediately accepted it along with his wife.  He would soon convert his entire family into his “new” religion. 

From there he quickly enrolled in the ranks of Islam in New York City under Min. Malcolm X.  He gave up his career in show business and dedicated his life to advance the religion of Islam.  As a fundraiser for the Nation of Islam combined with spreading the message of his leader, Min. Farrakhan debuted as a playwright, producer and actor in his original play, “Orgena,” on the stage of New York’s prestigious Town Hall theater in 1960.  Around the same time, he recorded the hit song, “A White Man’s Heaven Is A Black Man’s Hell.”  

After receiving his “basic training,” Min. Malcolm X under the guidance of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad dispatched the then-Louis X to Boston to serve as captain, the coordinator of men’s affairs.  Soon thereafter, he was elevated to the post of minister and served from 1956 to 1965 at Muhammad’s Temple No. 11.

By May 1965, Mr. Muhammad reassigned him to New York City and promoted him to the post he currently holds, National Representative of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.  In the aftermath of the assassination of Malcolm X and destruction of the Harlem Temple, Min. Farrakhan and the faithful began the arduous task of rebuilding in New York City virtually from scratch.

The New York scene quickly was transformed by the ever-widening Muslim presence.  Every borough and suburb of the city was bustling with members of the Nation of Islam. Temples, schools, businesses and community rehabilitation programs could be found all over the city.  Also during the 60s and 70s, on behalf of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Min. Farrakhan began his radio ministry in New York and all over the country.  In the 80s and 90s, he would add television and the Internet to his radio appearances on behalf of the Nation of Islam.

The popularity of the Nation of Islam and Min. Farrakhan, in particular, was so great that many referred to him as the “Black Mayor” for his prestige and influence in affairs of the city

On more than one occasion, the Black community expressed its love for the Nation of Islam.  In 1972, the Harlem mosque and school was wrongfully attacked by the police, resulting in a melee which almost touched off a riot had it not been for the leadership shown by Min. Farrakhan.   Min. Farrakhan’s tactful conflict resolution skills were put the test and were the determining factor during this deadly episode in which he and the Black community successfully resolved the situation with the NYPD.  The outcome of this episode helped the city to establish a sensible policy regarding religious institutions. By 1974, Black America’s love of the Nation of Islam grew into one of that decade’s largest mass meetings of its kind on Randall’s Island where Min. Farrakhan delivered his “Black Family Day” address before 70,000.

After the departure from the scene of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1975, Imam W. Deen Mohammed, the subsequent leader, reassigned Min. Farrakhan to Chicago in June of that year.  As the Nation of Islam changed its direction away from the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Min. Farrakhan underwent a personal reassessment of his role and plans for the future.  This led to his separation from Imam Mohammed and the community in 1977.  During this period, Min. Farrakhan traveled around the world and reflected on the state of Black people and ultimately decided to rebuild the Nation of Islam under the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

By1978, he began to crisscross the country building a network of relationships and study groups that would begin the Nation of Islam’s “second resurrection.”  In 1981, he was able to host the first Saviour’s Day convention of the “second resurrection.”

New frontiers and alliances were forged in the years to come.  After Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. announced his plan to run for president of the United States in 1983, Min. Farrakhan became a member of the steering committee.  In fact, the Nation of Islam provided volunteers and security for the candidate, and in 1984 Muslims under Min. Farrakhan’s guidance registered to vote in the Democratic primaries across the country.

By 1985, African heads of state offered their support and assistance to the Nation of Islam.  Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar Gadhafi, in 1985 loaned the Nation of Islam a $5 million interest free loan.  

With aid received from Africa, Min. Farrakhan established an organization dedicated to economic development, P.O.W.E.R., (People Organized and Working for Economic Rebirth) and debuted a line of personal care products popularly known as “Clean N Fresh.” In keeping his pledge to rebuild the Nation of Islam, he and his supporters have made tremendous strides in reacquiring a number of the real estate holdings achieved by his mentor prior to 1975.  In Chicago alone, the Nation of Islam has reacquired its flagship mosque and school on Stony Island Avenue, the sales and office building on South Cottage Grove Avenue, the Chicago and Phoenix homes of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, farmland in Georgia, among many other noteworthy achievements.   In 1982, the Nation of Islam purchased the Final Call Administration building, home of  The Final Call newspaper that was founded in 1979. In the mid-1990s, the Nation of Islam opened, in Chicago, the luxurious Salaam Restaurant and Bakery. 

Rapid progress continued in the rebuilding of the Nation of Islam and by 1992, 60,000 people attended Saviours’ Day in Atlanta at the newly opened Georgia Dome.  In 1993, Min. Farrakhan released his first-ever book, “A Torchlight for America,” which represented “some of the guiding principles taught to us by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.” 

On the social scene, with the rise of violent crime stemming from the crack cocaine epidemic of the late 1980s, Min. Farrakhan embarked on another cross-country speaking tour with the theme “Stop The Killing.” Soon thereafter, in his quest to redeem and reform Black men, he embarked on another cross-country tour where he held exclusive “men-only” meetings.  At these special gatherings, he addressed the issues of Black-on-Black crime, the ever-increasing rate of divorce, wife abuse, child neglect, drug abuse, the lack of economic opportunity, among others.

In the meanwhile, in 1995, a 30-year schism would begin to heal itself when Min. Farrakhan shared the same stage with Betty Shabazz, the widow of the late Malcolm X, at the Apollo Theater.  Both leaders were responding to the need to mend old differences and come together to defend the daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, Qubilah, who had been the victim of an orchestrated plot to entrap her in a complex U.S. government surveillance program which included an attempt to assassinate Min. Farrakhan at the hands of prepaid white, Jewish government informant who today is in the federal witness protection program. 

These men-only meetings were in preparation for one of the world’s greatest assemblies of its kind on the Mall in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Oct. 16, 1995, the Million Man March.  The March was dedicated to God and included the themes of atonement, personal responsibility and reconciliation. 

Given the success of the Million Man March, Min. Farrakhan expanded his focus on the rest of the globe and embarked on the first of three successful “World Friendship Tours.”  From all corners of the globe, Min. Farrakhan and his delegation carried the themes of the Million Man March abroad and established religious, political, social and economic ties on behalf of Black America.  Likewise, in 1994, the first Saviours’ Day convention outside of the United States was convened in Accra, Ghana, West Africa.

On the political scene in recent years, he has advocated voter registration under the independent banner in order that the Black vote will be the decisive one that will decide the next presidential election.  Indeed, social scientists have determined that the significant increase in Black male voter registration in the late 1990s was exclusively a result of the Million Man March.

After his recovery from the side effects resulting from his treatment for prostate cancer in the late nineties, Min. Farrakhan has remerged on the international stage preparing for Saviours’ Day 2000 in Chicago, and the Million Family March in October 2000 in Washington, D.C.

This father of nine children, grandfather of 23 and great-grandfather of four continues his relentless work schedule. In November 1999, while recovering, he and his National Board met a delegation of Jewish leaders at their request—initially to seek help in the release of Jewish rabbis in Iran suspected of spying for Israel—to begin to build a bridge for dialogue between the Nation of Islam and the Jewish community. He convened a press conference of religious leaders in December 1999 to continue his call for religious harmony and proper celebration of religious holy days. On Feb. 27, 2000, at the United Center in Chicago, he will make his anxiously awaited public return during Saviours’ Day.

Over his career, on behalf of the Nation of Islam, Min. Farrakhan has received numerous awards and commendations from both political and religious bodies for his remarkable years of service to humanity.

Photo captions: #1-Min. Farrakhan; #2-Min. Farrakhan joins Native American's at Big Mountain, Arizona, in 1985; #3-On Jan. 16, 1988, Min. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam re-purchased Muhammad Mosque No. 2 and Muhammad University complex for $2.17 million. On Feb. 26, 1989, the refurbished mosque now called Mosque Maryam, after the mother of Jesus, was re-dedicated; #4-Re-purchased farm land in Georgia; #5-Love show during 'Men Only' meeting... women in Atlanta attend 'Women Only' meeting.



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