Minister Farrakhan and Monroe, La., a city of lynching

By Demetric Muhammad -Guest Columnist- | Last updated: Jan 10, 2018 - 2:11:07 PM

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The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan recently graced the city of Monroe, Louisiana, with his presence. The Minister’s visit to the commencement exercises of Grambling University, a historically Black university, brought him to the Monroe area.


During the Minister’s short stay, he was honored by his supporters, Grambling officials, civic leaders and the members of the local mosque of the Nation of Islam in Monroe. A great honor was bestowed on the Minister by Mayor Jamie Mayo when he gave the Minister the Key to the city of Monroe.

Despite the noble reputation of the Minister and his work, local news outlets have questioned the Mayor’s decision to bestow such an honor on the Minister. It is as if the Minister is supposed to be persona non-grata in the city of Monroe. However, a news source has compared the mayor’s accommodation of Minister Farrakhan with police escort and city services to past occasions where they did the same for White racists like David Duke.

The problem here is that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan should never be compared with known bigots and race haters. The Minister’s record proves him to be a beautiful man who has devoted his life and sacrificed many years of his life in devotion to the cause of the complete liberation of Black people and all oppressed people throughout the Earth.

In contrast, the city of Monroe and the Ouachita Parish have a history of shame and infamy over its treatment of Black people.

According to the research of the Equal Justice Institute (EJI), which published a groundbreaking study on lynching in America:

“During the period between the Civil War and World War II, thousands of African Americans were lynched in the United States. Lynchings were violent and public acts of torture that traumatized black people throughout the country and were largely tolerated by state and federal officials. These lynchings were terrorism. ‘Terror lynchings’ peaked between 1880 and 1940 and claimed the lives of African American men, women, and children who were forced to endure the fear, humiliation, and barbarity of this widespread phenomenon unaided. Lynching profoundly impacted race relations in this country and shaped the geographic, political, social, and economic conditions of African Americans in ways that are still evident today.

“The largest numbers of lynchings were found in Jefferson County, Alabama; Orange, Columbia, and Polk counties in Florida; Fulton and Early counties in Georgia; Caddo, Ouachita, Bossier, Iberia, and Tangipahoa parishes in Louisiana…”

The EJI Report, “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror” second edition, goes on to document that the state of Louisiana had 559 lynchings of Black people from 1877-1950. Ouachita Parish, where Monroe, Louisiana, is located, had 37 lynchings during this time period.

Author Ralph Ginzburg writes in his book “100 Years of Lynching” that on October 22, 1913 in Monroe, Louisiana, “Warren Eton, a negro, who made an insulting remark to a white woman Mon-day, was taken from the jail here early this morning by a mob and hanged to a nearby telegraph pole. Two masked men held up the jailer with pistols, but other members of the mob made no attempt to conceal their identities.”

Ginzburg also documents that on April 29, 1919 near Monroe, Louisiana, “A Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacifi c train was held up by an armed mob about five miles from Monroe, La., today, and George Holden, negro, accused of writing an insulting note to a white woman named Onlie Elliot, was taken from the train and shot to death. Holden was taken from a stretcher in the baggage car. He had been wounded in two previous attempts to lynch him. Holden was being sent to Shreveport for safekeeping. He was shot in the leg Monday night by unidentifi ed persons shortly after the woman received the insulting note. Later he was beaten into insensibility. When the local sheriff heard of this, he placed Holden aboard the V,S&P train for the purpose of taking him to Shreveport for safekeeping. Local citizens, hearing of this, raced ahead of the train in automobiles and reaching the next station pulled the helpless negro from the train, took him to a nearby tree and riddled his body with bullets. The note sent to Mrs. Elliot was written in plain handwriting. Acquaintances of the Negro state that he had no education and could hardly write his name.”

In addition to the Monroe legacy of lynching Black people is the history of its role in the attempted lynching of Nation of Islam Minister Troy X Cade, now known as Minister Abdul Bey Muhammad. As discussed on the occasion of Minister Bey’s 80th birthday in 2010 in The Final Call newspaper, we learned that: “In March of 1960, the Monroe, Louisiana Temple was stormed by police, who brutally beat men, woman and children; killing one Muslim brother and attempting to lynch Minister Bey by his necktie over a rafter in the Temple.

Among those Muslims who fought for their lives that day were “Minister Bey’s then pregnant wife, Lureatha, and his nine-year-old daughter. Toward the end of the violent struggle, which required the intervention of the United States National Guard; there were three police casualties also among the injured.

“The Muslims of the Monroe, Louisiana Temple were arrested and required medical treatment. While many of the Muslims were charged, fined and later released; Minister Bey was charged with inciting a riot, overthrow of the United States government, desecration of a United States flag and murder. In the book Message To The Blackman, on page 211, under a section entitled ‘The Persecution of the Righteous,’ the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote: ‘If Troy X Cade [as he was called before receiving the holy name Abdul Bey Muhammad] is guilty of teaching insurrection against the government, then I am guilty, because I am Troy’s teacher. I would rather go to prison in place of Troy if this is the justice for the truth Allah gave me.’ ”

“Sentenced to six years in prison in the Louisiana State Penitentiary; isolated from other inmates; forced to sleep on a concrete floor and drink from a commode in his cell; Minister Bey awaited a Louisiana Supreme Court Decision to overturn his conviction.

“Before this decision would take place, however; prison guards, at approximately two o’clock one morning, removed Minister Bey from his cell, shackled him, and turned him over to police and state troopers who drove him to the Louisiana/Mississippi state line.

“Once there, Minister Bey was again brutally beaten within an inch of his life by scores of officers who then attempted to drown him by standing on his body in a swamp until they thought he was dead.

“Only his faith in Allah kept Minister Bey alive, and the fact that he had been a lifeguard, a frogman, and an excellent swimmer with the ability to hold his breath under water.”

Monroe’s history of lynching may be the real reason why certain interest groups in the city are concerned over Minister Farrakhan’s visit. Whites who kill Blacks have historically feared the day their evil against their former slaves would be made known. Minister Farrakhan has dubbed this fear as “the mind of Cain.” In the Bible, when Cain killed Abel he feared that “now every man that sees me will slay me.”

But contrary to these fears, Minister Farrakhan has always channeled the energy and talent of his audiences toward the dual purpose of giving up moral vices and towards the cleaning up the Black community of its negative elements. And the Minister’s work is well documented.

It is appalling that news media cite the dishonest reports of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the false claims of the Anti-Defamation League when reporting about Minister Farrakhan to their audiences. These are only two groups out of scores of groups, elected officials, spiritual leaders, celebrities and scholars who have testified of the Minister’s beneficial impact.

In my book “Who Do They Say I Am: The Vindication of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” numerous well known men and women and groups have their testimonies of Minister Farrakhan documented. For example, in 1997 Philadelphia Mayor Edwin Rendell invited Minister Farrakhan to Philadelphia to address racial tension within the city. As an introduction to the Minister’s speech in Gray’s Ferry, Mayor Rendell said: “I would like to thank the Nation of Islam here in Philadelphia. To thank you for what you stand for and what you stand for all the good it does to so many people in Philadelphia. And if there is anybody out here … who doesn’t know, this is a faith that has as its principles, the family. This is a faith that doesn’t just talk about family values, it lives family values. This is a faith where men respect their women and children and they manifest that faith by staying in the home with them. This is a faith that doesn’t just talk about being against drugs but is out there every single day and night fighting against drugs. This is a faith that just doesn’t talk about the value of education, it imbues in their children and schools that education is the way to opportunity.”

Minister Farrakhan’s work to eradicate juvenile delinquency is another element of his work and history that makes him a worthy presence in all cities. Professor Mattias Gardell noted that “Minister Farrakhan has a unique capability … to reach deeply into the souls of black youths … is able to talk to them in a way that really makes them listen … this rapport enables Farrakhan to criticize and redirect destructive behavioral patterns.”

The broad and universal message of Minister Farrakhan was what journalist Debra Hananiah Freeman reacted to when she referred to Minister Farrakhan as a national asset. On the occasion of Minister Farrakhan’s 1993 press conference titled “A Torchlight for America”, Ms. Freeman wrote: “Hearing Farrakhan in person for the first time was clearly startling to many of those gathered who had only read news accounts of him circulated by his enemies. But Farrakhan’s wit, vitality, and most importantly, his humanity, were irrepressible. Farrakhan is, without question, a far different man than the sound-bite target that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B’nai B’rith has constructed …

“Clearly, Farrakhan came to Washington to deliver a message and to offer his help to a troubled nation. He is a national asset whose voice should be heard.”

We conclude that if the truth of the Minister’s history is put on display, it becomes clear why Mayor Mayo and every mayor in America should welcome Minister Farrakhan and create avenues where he and his representatives can teach and bring the Nation of Islam’s beneficial impact to their citizens.

Student Minister Demetric Muhammad, who is based in Memphis, Tenn., is also a member of the N. O.I. Research Group.