National News

A weekend of service and excitement in a special city

By Final Call News | Last updated: Oct 17, 2018 - 9:18:33 AM

What's your opinion on this article?

Men of the Nation of Islam joined other Black men during a community clean up. Photo: Andrea Muhammad
DETROIT—History was made in an historic city as the Nation of Islam commemorated the Holy Day of Atonement and 23rd anniversary of the Million Man March. A full weekend of activities included a critical and much needed message from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, a Million Man March ‘reflections’ gathering; conflict resolution training for students in local schools; a wreath-laying ceremony in honor of Mother Tynnetta Muhammad, wife of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad; an uplifting message to inmates, training on prevention of elder abuse and a community clean up.

Detroit is a revered place in the history of the Nation of Islam. It was in Detroit’s “Black Bottom” neighborhood, “Paradise Valley,” now replaced with a freeway, where Master W.D. Fard, a man from Mecca, Arabia, founded the Nation of Islam, teaching Black people their origin, and their true religion—Islam. He taught that Allah (God) would judge those who “afflicted” the Black man and woman in North America, and He promised to lead those who had been afflicted.

Muslim women participated in an informational presentation on preventing abuse of senior citizens as part of several activities that were held during Oct. 12-14 Holy Day of Atonement weekend commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the Million Man March.

On Oct. 14 excitement was in the air in anticipation of Min. Farrakhan’s keynote address at the former Chene Amphitheater now called Aretha Franklin Amphitheater. The program included touching testimonials on the October 16, 1995 Million Man March and from two Detroit City Council members—Brenda Jones; Chair of the Council and Council member Mary Sheffield; Christian pastors from near and far; and from a man who was inspired to change his life after watching the miraculous march on television from a prison cell at the Wayne County Jail; and from a policeman who promised to plug the school-to-prison-pipeline. The march was called by God through Min. Farrakhan and nearly two million Black men attended.

Twenty-three years later for the anniversary commemoration in Detroit, there were brilliant visual images of the Detroit River and Windsor, Canada, behind the stage, and there was sparkling weather with sunny skies for all in attendance.

The capacity audience included eager members of the Nation of Islam from Muhammad Mosque No. 1, Muslims in veils and kufis, fez-wearing members of Detroit’s Temple No. 25 of the Moorish Science Temple-America, women wearing dazzling church “crowns” and stunning fashion hats.

“I watched the Million Man March in a prison cell two miles from here,” Troy Muhammad, Student Minister of Mosque No. 1 and event host declared during the Oct. 14 program preceding Min. Farrakhan’s keynote message. “What you all did,” he continued, changed his life for the better.

“I am a Black man who happens to be a police officer, not a cop who happens to be Black,” Ralph Godbee, former Detroit Police Chief, who’s now Detroit Public Schools Police Chief, told the audience. He said going forward, his contribution to prison reform would be to fight to ensure that the 52,000 students under his care, never even migrate from school to jail in the first place.

Mr. Godbee said he couldn’t do his job effectively without the Nation of Islam. Just two days prior, October 12, Student Ministers Nuri Muhammad from Indianapolis, Ishmael Muhammad, national assistant to Min. Farrakhan, Carlos Muhammad from Baltimore and others, spoke with students, some of whom were a bit unruly and boisterous—during assemblies at nine high schools, including East English High, and Ecorse High, rumored to be the rowdiest school in the city. The student ministers shared with the mostly Black and Latino students how valuable and loved they are and who they are in relationship to God.

Abdullah Muhammad, Student National Prison Reform Minister for the Nation of Islam based in Chicago and Abdul Rahman of  Muhammad Mosque No. 1, shared encouraging words rooted in scripture to men at Ryan/Detroit Reentry Correctional Center during the weekend. Student Minister Abdullah Muhammad’s topic was, “Prophecy and Fulfillment.”

Men listen to presentation from Nation of Islam Prison Reform Ministry. (r) Student Minister Abdullah Muhammad.

“I used the scripture in Isaiah 42 to show them the conspiracy that snared them and have them fulfilling the prophecy of being held in prison,” said Student Min. Abdullah Muhammad. Abdul Rahman spoke on the topic, “We Must First be Brothers” from the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad who taught Black people that every time they look into the face of a Black man they are looking at God.

“I reminded them of the scripture that asks the question, ‘How can we love God whom we have never seen and hate your brother that we see every day?’” said Abdul Rahman.

On Oct. 13 the Fruit of Islam (men of the Nation of Islam) and other concerned Black men that care about their communities came together in unity and cleaned the 7 Mile and Evergreen neighborhood area. Their main focus was removing an overgrown parking lot that was an eyesore to the area.

This overgrown lot contained broken bottles and trash. It represented just one of the many unkempt lots in Detroit. Most of these property owners are people living in the City of Detroit, some living out of the state, or some are abandoned. During the weekend the men that made a pledge and commitment to the principles of the first Million Man March in 1995, continued to make their word bond by giving up their time and resources to clean up the community making it a better place to live. Starting at 8 a.m. until late in the afternoon the men mowed lawns, picked up trash, and cut down overgrown trees. The cleanup included abandoned houses in the surrounding areas.

A community clean up in the 7 Mile and Evergreen area of Detroit brought together men who desire to make the neighborhood a clean and decent place to live. They cut grass, trimmed trees and removed debris.

“The objective is to every spiritual aspect there is a physical consequence. We are led by the Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan to be out in the community and give them a word to help people clean themselves up spiritually, emotionally and morally. The thinking of the people should be reflected in the community in which they love, so this cleanup has been added as a reflection of the mindset that the Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan is trying to produce in the mindset of the Believers of Muhammad Mosque No. 1 and the people out in the community,” said Carlos 3X, who served as the lead for Project Clean Up.

Children, grandchildren and family of Mother Tynnetta Muhammad and her husband joined Min. Farrakhan and members of his family for a quiet, solemn wreath-laying ceremony at Westlawn Cemetery in Wayne, Ind., honoring the Muslim scholar and woman of God on the afternoon of Oct. 13. Mother Tynnetta Muhammad was from Detroit.

Later in the day at Friendship Meadows Senior Apartment Complex, senior citizens and Muslims participated in an afternoon of information about elder abuse prevention training. The Million Man March local organizing committee partnered with the Detroit Area Agency on Aging to provide the training for seniors and their family members.

Presenters included: Fatimah Muhammad, Takesha Muhammad and Katrina Muhammad. Many participants shared stories of abuse their elder family members experienced or that they observed in other families. Cenella Muhammad talked about the abuse her parents suffered from other family members. Resources and tips were shared with attendees to prevent and address the abuse many senior citizens suffer in care facilities, hospitals or even in their own homes. Physical abuse as well as being taken advantage of financially is becoming an all too common problem elders are suffering.

Nation of Islam Ministry of Education Coordinator, Shirley Muhammad, appreciated the information presented because elders and “especially our pioneers are being placed in the invisible role.”

“I’m happy that you all brought the attention to the community and hopefully that not only the NOI but people in the community will work with us to make the difference for all elders,” said Shirley Muhammad.

The last event to cap off Saturday events was a sharing of testimonies. Alverda Muhammad, a Muslim pioneer from Muhammad Mosque No. 4 in Washington, D.C., facilitated a riveting dialogue with men and women who attended the historic 1995 march. 

They detailed how the original march and subsequent commemorative gatherings, including the Million Family March, Millions More Movement and Justice or Else, has touched their lives.

(Reported by Starla Muhammad, Askia Muhammad, Charlene Muhammad and Katrina Muhammad.)