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10,000 Fearless Wants You!

By Richard B. Muhammad and Charlene Muhammad, The Final Call | Last updated: Jun 20, 2018 - 2:56:25 PM

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Around the country, Black men and women accept challenge to improve their condition and restore their communities

The Peacekeepers, founded by longtime Nation of Islam member Dennis Muhammad, helps train men and women in various cities on conflict resolution and community advocacy work.

(L-R) Customer at Your Supermarket in Atlanta; A community peace garden is in the works; Volunteers prepare food for community.

Three years after Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan called for 10,000 Fearless men and women to make their communities safe and decent places to live, the call has been heeded but the work doesn’t focus simply on ending beefs and reducing violence.

It includes food, clothing, advocating for the poor and underserved, and building businesses and bridges to serve people—even helping those hit by natural disasters.

Rev. Timothy McDonald and Student Min. Sharrieff Muhammad of 10,000 Fearless of the South.
The most developed area and the model for training and operations is the 10,000 Fearless Headquarters for the South based in Atlanta. Others are less developed but are still doing important, though still unfolding work. 

“Allah (God) has blessed us to have at least one hundred 10,000 Fearless Centers around the country,” said Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad of the 10,000 Fearless Headquarters of the South and student minister at the Nation of Islam’s Southern regional headquarters in Atlanta.

The Atlanta group is led by co-chairs student Min. Sharrieff Muhammad and Rev. Timothy McDonald, pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church.

In Atlanta, members work to promote peace, resolve conflicts, empower families and transform communities. They patrol neighborhoods in security cars every week, feed between 150-200 people Tuesdays and Thursdays, and offer clothing, shoes, and personal care products, said student Min. Sharrieff Muhammad, a former Supreme Captain of the Nation of Islam.

Atlanta will host a 10,000 Fearless Junior Boys camp for ages 10-17, June 24-26. Scheduled activities include manhood training, basic mechanics, martial arts and survival training and recreation, such as basketball, miniature golf, and volleyball.

Last year, the 10,000 Fearless opened Your Supermarket to bring fresh vegetables and wholesome food to a suffering Black neighborhood. The group now has a 10,000 Fearless headquarters, a cleaners, restaurant and the supermarket as signs Black neighborhoods can be redeveloped.

District 3 Councilman Ivory Lee Young, Jr. said at the supermarket ribbon cutting ceremony last year, “The historic Boone Boulevard corridor has less drugs because of the 10,000 Fearless. Homes that were previously underdeveloped and underutilized are now fully utilized to serve the residents of all of northwest Atlanta—not just one neighborhood. … I just humbly give thanks for Min. Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad, the 10,000 Fearless and the entire Nation for the support of Mosque No. 15” in this community. He was joined by other officials at the Your Supermarket opening.

Atlanta also opened Blue Seas Express and Catering Restaurant in The Bluff, infamous for some of the highest crime in the city, last year. Economic development and expanded opportunity is seen as essential for a healthy and productive community.

Rev. McDonald said, “The people have found that they have a friend in the community through the 10,000 Fearless, a huge kind of volunteer crew that comes through there, and it’s a prime example of Christians and Muslims working together to better a community.”

He and Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad focus on people’s needs, whether physical, economic, political, even spiritual, but they say development of people comes first.

Building community economic strength can be challenging, admitted Rev. McDonald. Most of the properties are rented and if residents don’t like conditions, they move out, which could open the door to gentrification for real estate a stone’s throw from downtown and in the shadow of a major sports arena.

Under the direction of Min. Sharrieff Muhammad and Rev. Timothy McDonald in Atlanta, the 10,000 Fearless of the South and the volunteers that work with them have a weekly food distribution program to provide much needed services to residents in “The Bluff.” Photos: facebook/10,000 Fearless Men & Women Headquarters of The South.

“But we have been a force to those who would come in to say you’ve got to at least deal with us, and we’re there for the people,” said Rev. McDonald. “You’re just not going to exploit people, but we will be there as the eyes, ears, and heart and even soul of the people to represent. We’re 10,000 Fearless. We don’t have any vested interests other than representing the people’s needs, the people’s concerns.”

He added, “Since we have been there, we have been told by law enforcement—and 10,000 Fearless has its own law enforcement community and entity—that crime has decreased. It has not disappeared. We’re not going to be naive about that, but the crime has decreased, because we try to give the people alternatives.”

A cool glass of water

Two years ago some 30 organizations worked beautifying The Bluff using paint and other supplies and equipment donated by Home Depot of southwest Atlanta.

The group created an Ambassador for Veterans Affairs to advocate for veterans and make sure they received their benefits.

During the 21st anniversary of the Million Man March and Holy Day of Atonement, a “Day of Action and Community Service” took place in The Bluff in 2016. Muslims from around the country flocked to the city.

Minister Farrakhan toured the 10,000 Fearless headquarters that included a peace garden, food and clothing was given away and health screenings were available. The Minister likened the community service of the 10,000 Fearless to receiving a cool glass of water. “You’re feeding your people; you’re after your people; you’re doing things to help your people be better than what they were when you moved here,” he said.

Works, progress and pilot programs

Kenny Muhammad, Phoenix chair of 10,000 Fearless, is looking for a bigger center with more parking spaces. He has been focused on building Black and Latino relations, while promoting conflict resolution, feeding the homeless and doing limited community patrols.

With its large Latino population, building bridges between the Black and the Brown is critical, said Kenny Muhammad. You can’t come in and resolve conflict if people don’t know you and you don’t have friends, he said.

With events like a recent “Barber Battle,” which allowed Black and Latino barbers to compete and showcase their skills while earning trophies and prizes, coalition building is going on, he said.

Blacks and Latinos often live together but there has been a gap between the groups and a lack of voices calling the groups to unite, Kenny Muhammad explained.

He is also working on a pilot housing program for men who have had hard times but can function and just need a place to stay, a sort of second chance rooming house. A fledgling Final Call sales program cleans up and trains men to go out and sell the paper as a way to create jobs. They are doing well enough to sustain themselves, said Kenny Muhammad as he works on perfecting the initiative.

Volunteers in Phoenix help gather and distribute food and other items to residents in an effort to make the community a safe and decent place to live through the 10,000 Fearless initiative as called for by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam.

“People tend to be attracted to change and to progress,” said Kenny Muhammad, who has been leading 10,000 Fearless in Phoenix for a little over two years. It’s challenging at times but he partners with the St. Mary’s Food bank and other agencies to offer food and works with other allies. His latest achievement was the May opening of a Blue Seas restaurant in the city. His co-chair is Lynette Campbell of the Arizona Informant newspaper.

Phoenix, Ariz., Chattanooga, Tenn., Birmingham, Ala., and Shreveport, Louisiana, are the fastest developing areas for 10,000 Fearless centers, said Min. Sharrieff Muhammad.

There are also Blue Seas restaurants in Tuskegee, Ala., Birmingham and Shreveport. According to Min. Sharrieff Muhammad, plans call for opening restaurants and stores in 25 cities by year end.

Conflict resolution and first-responders training gained from the 10,000 Fearless impacted Sheldon Lamey, a board member and treasurer for the Million Man March Local Organizing Committee in Austin, Texas. He is part of the 10,000 Fearless group in the city.

Before he completed the training, he wondered how he could go into the community and help forge peace? “It was kind of intimidating at first, because trying to be in that type of environment where two parties could be actually violent toward one another, but the methods I learned actually paid off with that,” Mr. Lamey told The Final Call.

He has settled conflicts between family members and co-workers and urges everyone to take a conflict-resolution course.

Austin’s Local Organizing Committee had a Squash the Beef Hotline but focused more on conflict resolution following Minister Farrakhan’s call. Peacemaking has expanded into Killeen, San Antonio, and other areas in Central, Texas, according to Student Minister Robert Muhammad of Mosque No. 64 in Austin.

Through the training and aid of Student Minister Willie Muhammad of Mosque No. 46 in New Orleans, Austin activists and volunteers have brokered more than 20 successful mediations, said Robert Muhammad.

“Killeen, Texas, is bordered by Fort Hood, which is the largest military installation in the country and, of course, because of that there are a lot of military grade weapons on the street. So just about all of the mediations we have done in the city of Killeen … when they have involved weapons, they have always been assault rifles and military grade weapons,” he said.

The first mediation stemmed from one phone call shortly after an all men’s meeting launching the Conflict Resolution program, recalled Robert Muhammad.

A person “had an issue with his daughter’s mother’s brother and they had gotten into it several times, drawn weapons on one another several times, even shot at one another,” he said. “Well, the last incident was (a person) being chased down the street. The brother was chasing him with an AK47. He called and he said, “‘Hey! Look! We need some intervention here, because the next time we see each other it’s going to be a problem and so one of us is going to get killed,’ ” Robert Muhammad told The Final Call.

The Austin 10,000 Fearless got the two men in a room and helped resolve their issues in an hour and a half. The former enemies embraced and forgave one another, said Robert Muhammad. “And, unfortunately, a year later, the brother that chased the other brother with the AK47 was involved in the same type of situation with his child’s uncle in Houston, Texas. They got into a physical altercation, the brother chased him down, shot him in the back of the head in the alley and killed him,” Robert Muhammad said.

Phoenix helps Houston flood victims.

News spread by word of mouth, and the 10,000 Fearless in Austin began to promote its services online and in the community. “The media even gave us credit for reducing the violence in that city (Killeen),” Robert Muhammad said.

Every week for the past eight months, Austin 10,000 Fearless has conducted a conflict resolution training and study course in Killeen, Texas.

The work has not been without opposition. The City Council supported the Conflict Resolution Program last year and wanted to partner with the Austin 10,000 Fearless, in particular, after a council member attended a presentation by Nuri Muhammad, a Nation of Islam student minister, said Robert Muhammad. The Killeen police chief even bought in, he said. But a Jewish man, who was a municipal judge, began to troll Nuri Muhammad’s lectures on, his social media pages and sat through a presentation, said Robert Muhammad. The judge went to the police chief, city council and labeled the lecture hate speech, so a partnership with the Conflict Resolution Program was canceled, said Robert Muhammad.

“Initially it angered me, because here in the Central Texas area, the concentration of violence in that city was so high that it has been labeled one of the most dangerous places to live in Texas when you look at it per capita,” he said. “So here we are doing the work that the police department and the city could not do with a budget, we were doing it without a budget and without any resources at all.”

Student Minister Kevin Muhammad of the Muhammad Study Group of Chattanooga and Pastor Timothy Careathers of Westside Baptist Church held the grand opening of the Chattanooga headquarters of the 10,000 Fearless House on June 9.  A host of pastors, organizations, elected officials, activists and residents witnessed transformation of a once abandoned house on the same block as their houses of worship.

“It’s beautiful to see what’s happening,” said Min. Sharrieff Muhammad.

In addition to its signature Conflict Resolution Center, the group provides mentoring, tutoring, and boasts a training program. They have two patrol cars, a public works truck, a How to Eat to Live Kitchen, a War Room for strategic planning, a food pantry, an internet TV studio, and plans to create a community garden and peace park, said Kevin Muhammad.

Student Captain Dennis Muhammad, a long-time activist and helper of Minister Farrakhan, is founder of the Peacekeepers. The group works to counter street violence by occupying high crime areas and has been holding 10,000 Fearless Men-Only meetings across the country. The Peacekeepers have been to Baltimore, Charlotte and Fayetteville, N.C., and Brooklyn. The next planned stop was Philadelphia on June 21, and Wilmington, Del., on June 23, then Atlantic City. Their final stop is planned for Chicago.

“We’re very excited, because there is no greater time for the organized men, under the banner of 10,000 Fearless than today,” said Dennis Muhammad.  Brother Ben X, who uses YouTube and social media to spread the Nation of Islam message and teachings, is part of the tour.

“The reason I’m saying this is because of the increase of violence that, not only, are we perpetuating on ourselves in gun violence, but the increase of police shooting down unarmed Black men. The increase of police brutality towards Black men, the increase of White businesses targeting racist remarks and attitudes toward Black people, like Starbucks, like the two incidents in a Waffle House—and it is a real, real growing concern about what are men going to do to guarantee the safety and protection of the women and children?” asked Dennis Muhammad.

In Houston, peacemaking efforts have included events like “Make Our Communities a Decent Place to Live Day,” with classes on motherhood, womanhood and cooking by women of the Nation of Islam. 

In addition, the Fruit of Islam, continues to go into heavy crime areas to distribute The Final Call newspaper and increase peace and lessen tension. But the Houston 10,000 Fearless has focused on a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) based out of Mosque No. 45, said Student Minister Abdul Haleem Muhammad. 

The 10,000 Fearless Emergency Response and Disaster Preparedness Team is sponsored by A.C.T.I.O.N. CDC (Accepting Challenges to Improve Our Nation Community Development Corporation), a non-profit that serves low to moderate income individuals and families, said Min. Haleem Muhammad, the Nation’s Southwest Regional Representative. 

“Hurricane Harvey forced us to focus specifically on disaster preparedness and emergency management,” he said of the category 4 storm that flooded Houston last August. The group has trained and certified 28 volunteers through the city’s Community Emergency Response Team Program. 

After Hurricane Harvey, A.C.T.I.O.N. CDC distributed food, cleaning supplies, water, diapers, and hygiene products. By January 2018, its disaster recovery donation center for clothing, baby products, hygiene, cleaning and other supplies had served 2,580 people, said Robert Muhammad of Houston. From March 1-June 15, 553 families received case management services, he added.

The invitation to join the 10,000 Fearless is extended to community organizations, churches, and other groups, Min. Sharrieff Muhammad said.

The biggest challenge has been getting people to go out, because they’re afraid due to the shootings, he admitted.

“I thank Allah for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. We’re striving hard to make his word bond,” Min. Sharrieff Muhammad added.

Those interested in starting a 10,000 Fearless Center can reach out to the Southern Regional headquarters of the 10,000 Fearless at (773) 447-3205.