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Organizing and engaging in community work, responsibility

By Brian E. Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Mar 8, 2018 - 8:13:36 PM

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(L-R) Panel members Arthur Muhammad, Dennis Muhammad and Willie Muhammad Photos: Haroom Rajaee

“But he who is great among you will be a servant to you.”—Matthew 23:11

CHICAGO—A panel of practitioners and change-agents working in communities across the country came together in a February 24 workshop on “Making our Communities a Safe and Decent Place to Live: Setting up a Beach-Head Within Enemy Lines.”

The session gave working solutions for people interested in organizing and mobilizing to make safer and decent neighborhoods.  The workshop was part of a weekend of discussions and strategies on assorted topics during Saviours’ Day 2018, the annual convention of the Nation of Islam.

Audience listens intently to discussion. Photos: Haroom Rajaee

Student Captain Jeffrey Muhammad of London, England, opened the session on behalf of Mustapha Farrakhan, Student Supreme Captain of the Nation of Islam. The panelists were Student Southern Regional Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad; Student FOI Captain Emeritus Dennis Muhammad who is also founder of the Peace Keepers; Arthur Muhammad of Barbers4Peace Coalition; Student Minister Willie Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 46 in New Orleans and Student Minister Robert T. Muhammad of Austin, Texas—both speaking on conflict resolution.

Facilitated by the Ministry of Defense, speakers presented on and shared initiatives they are implementing and called on attendees to answer the call of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan for 10,000 Fearless Men and Women trained to be active change makers of their communities.

  “After 10-10-15, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan told all of us, go back to our cities and make it a decent place to live,” said Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad, speaking about the massive Washington, D.C., gathering honoring the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.

“That’s what we did in Atlanta. We went into the worst neighborhood and we set up shop and we began to go to work.” 

He began the 10,000 Fearless initiative in Atlanta and chose “The Bluff,” one of the most blighted, deprived areas in Georgia. Determined to obey Minister Farrakhan’s instructions and guidance, Student Min. Sharrieff Muhammad, along with Rev. Timothy McDonald, pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church and other committed people made the Bluff a model for other communities.

Stu. Min. Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad (right) helps distribute free clothing at the 10,000 Fearless Headquarters in the South. Photo: Rashaad Muhammad

Panelists offered tried and tested methods of implementing Min. Farrakhan’s desire and the teachings of the Hon Elijah Muhammad. Min. Farrakhan said the work of the mosque and church is in the streets where the problems are. The initiatives were born from this instruction, said Student Min. Sharrieff Muhammad.

The multifaceted approach to solve community issues produced the 10,000 Fearless headquarters with a conflict resolution center and a food pantry feeding 500 people.  Business investment with the opening of a Blue Seas Restaurant and other services was also an outgrowth of the work. The Atlanta based 10,000 Fearless holds training every Thursday, qualifying men and women with skill sets to make safer and better communities. The 10,000 Fearless operates in 97 cities including Phoenix, Las Vegas and Oakland to name a few.

Student Min. Sharrieff Muhammad said, a key factor for success was obeying Min. Farrakhan’s instruction to keep the Local Organizing Committees together. Organizationally they made the Million Man March, Million Family March and the Millions More Movement effective. 

A vital component in transforming communities is eradicating fratricidal behavior within them through conflict resolution.

“How could we have safe and decent communities … filled with people who don’t know how to resolve conflicts and don’t know where to go to have conflicts resolved,” said Student Min. Willie Muhammad.

“In order for it to be affective, it’s something that we have to work,” he explained, adding necessary relationships must be established to be a credible mediator.

Although, the initiative for conflict resolution has been in New Orleans since 2011, Willie Muhammad said it’s still relatively unknown.  “We don’t have the funding … the ability to promote it … nonetheless we are effective in the circle that we have,” he said.

Most conflicts they are called into come by word of mouth, acquaintances and people familiar with their efforts. Since 10-10-15, over 71 conflicts have been resolved. It is an integral part of the overall vision of Min. Farrakhan, he said.

Student Min. Willie Muhammad is in national demand for his certifiable training of conflict resolution skills. Besides New Orleans, Baltimore and Austin, Texas, have also shown remarkable progress in resolving conflicts.

Robert T. Muhammad said the residents cried out for help in nearby Killeen, Texas. He attributed the two years of conflict resolution work to the city experiencing—for the first time in five years—zero criminal homicides in the month of January. “We claim that victory in the name of the Hon. Minister Louis Farrakhan,” he said.  They conducted 14 mediations in Killeen ranging from individuals threatening with weapons to simple arguments and physical altercations.

Robert T. Muhammad told The Final Call that the mosque is reaping the benefits of the conflict resolution program with an increase of people joining the ranks of the Nation of Islam. “If you save one man’s life, it’s like you saved all of humanity,” Robert T. Muhammad said. 

In a highly spirited presentation, long time FOI Captain and helper in the Nation of Islam, Dennis Muhammad spoke on the Barbers4Peace initiative founded by Arthur Muhammad, the personal barber for Min. Farrakhan and owner of The Original Man Barber/Style shop in Chicago.

They have been organizing Black barbers to hear from men on the issues effecting their lives. The initiative will also take place in beauty salons across the country. They discovered pointed conversations raised in an impromptu way opens the door of communication from men who may not readily go into a mosque or church with their concerns.

 “Everybody has something to say, and ain’t nobody listening to young people,” Student Capt. Dennis Muhammad explained. “But when you give them an audience—and there ain’t no such thing as a bad answer … you find the good in that answer, so everybody’s a winner” he reasoned.

Barbershops and beauty salons in the Black community are trusted places for “being in the know” about practically everything happening in the community. It’s going to the people on their turf, Dennis Muhammad continued.

“They feel safe in the barbershop,” he said, because any hang-ups about being in a mosque or church doesn’t exist.

Dennis Muhammad and Arthur Muhammad called for interested people in the audience to sign up as barbershop and beauty salon facilitators to be trained on how to organize sessions.