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The Ministry of Spiritual Development  
The mission of the N.O.I. as a whole and of each of its parts is the spiritual development of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam in North America and our people throughout the world. The mission of the N.O.I. is the resurrection spiritually of a dead people and the entire focus and meaning of its work is to bring about this resurrection as quickly as possible. This is the purpose that gives meaning to all other activities engaged in and is the criterion by which we expect to be judged by Allah and His Messenger, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. As such, the spiritual dimension must be present in all and excluded from none. (copied from AtonementCommission.com).  
For more information, call Student Minister Marcus Muhammad (269) 861-6504 e-mail: muhammadmarcus1@gmail.com     
  
    The battle for equity continuesBy Charlene Muhammad -National Correspondent- | Last updated: May 16, 2016 - 12:21:32 PM

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    Urban League report examines gains, losses for a people in the valley of decision
    state-of-black-america_05-24-2016a.jpg
    (L-R) Ruby Bridges first day of school Photo: Youtube.com, Dorothty Counts taunted by White students Photo: cmhbs.org, Young Black Lives Matter protesters Photo: J.A. Salaam, Young minimum wage protesters Photo: Nationofchange.org, Modern Slave poster Photo: Facebook/F.A.M. (FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT); In 1965 the call by Blacks was for jobs, housing and justice. Photo: Wikipedia.com

    The condition of Blacks in America has not changed much in 40 years points out the 2016 State of Black America (SOBA) report released by the National Urban League (NUL).

    The similarities are disheartening, said Marc Morial, president of the non-profit organization that advocates Black economic advancement, parity, political power and civil rights.
    “We’re trying to highlight this 40 year lens … We’re also trying to highlight the fact that these disparities that exist are still significant and required the nation’s attention,” Mr. Morial told reporters during a May 12 teleconference.
    Locked out then and now
    This year, the National Urban League released its 40th edition of the seminal report May 17 during its Legislative Policy Conference, and from the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
    “Locked Out:  Education, Jobs and Justice,” includes a retrospective of Black life in America since Vernon Jordan, Jr., then executive director, published the first State of Black America report in 1976.  

    While clusters of improvements can be noted across the board for Blacks and Whites, unfortunately the findings tell a clear story that significant disparities remain and have not been resolved by any gains, particularly in income and employment.

    Schools in 1976 had been legally desegregated for 22 years.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was 12 years old.  The Voting Rights Act of 1965 had been in place 11 years, and the economy was one year into economic recovery from the recession that lasted from November 1973 to March 1975, the document reports.
                        
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    Blacks were nearly twice as likely as Whites to be unemployed; the median Black household had only 59 cents for every dollar of income in the median White household; and Blacks were three times more likely to live in poverty than Whites.

    While racial disparities continued to persist more than a decade after several pieces of landmark equal rights legislation passed, there has been some progress, SOBA researchers found.

    “Between 1963 and 1976, Blacks experienced tremendous gains in school enrollment and educational attainment.  In 1963, only one-quarter of Black adults had completed high school.  By 1976, that number had grown to 43.8 percent,” SOBA said. 

    There were more than twice as many Black 18-24 year olds enrolled in college in 1976 than in 1963; the standard of living for Black Americans had also risen over that 13-year period; and despite the fact that the Black poverty rate was three times more than for Whites in 1963 and 1976, the rates for both groups had fallen significantly over that time (down 21.6 and 6.2 percentage points for Blacks and Whites, respectively). 

    In addition by 1976, the Black-White income gap had closed six percentage points (from 53 percent in 1963), and the homeownership gap had closed 10 percentage points (from 55 percent in 1963 to 65 percent in 1976).

    “Very importantly, of the 40 year comparison, what jumped out at me was the idea that the Black homeownership rate in 2016 is the same as it was in 1976,” stated Mr. Morial.

    Bad to better?
    “If I could wave a magic wand and write the headline of what I’m about to say to you … the headline would read simply ‘The state of economics in Black America is still bad, but with positive signs of improvement,’ ” said George Fraser, CEO of FraserNet Inc., which works to increase entrepreneurship, wealth and creating jobs for Blacks. Its mission is to make Black people the number one employers of Black people.

    Black poverty worsened, certainly compared to anything within the last 50 years, he said.  “It is so bad, because Black homeownership has not recovered from the 250,000 homes we lost going to 2008 economic crises.  And we know that home-ownership is the cornerstone for the inter-generation of transfer of wealth,” Mr. Fraser told The Final Call.

    He said conditions are also still bad, because Blacks’ inter-generation transfer of wealth to children has not improved due to poor insurance protective practices, and Blacks still are not recycling their dollars.  There is too much frivolous spending, he said.

    Mr. Fraser cited consciousness shifting from jobs to equity and ownership as signs of improvement.  The Black mantra is shifting from that of their forefathers and ancestors, get a good education and get a good job, to get a good education and create a job, he said.

    “Create a job for yourself.  Create a job for your children, and if God gives you the power and the glory to, create working jobs for our people.”
    state-of-black-america_05-24-2016c.jpg


    Main Street Marshall Plan

    The State of Black America 2016 also emphasizes the National Urban League’s “Mainstream Marshall Plan:  From Poverty to Prosperity,” which envisions a trillion dollar, 5-year initiative to invest in distressed communities.

    In part it would help curb poverty levels for both Black and White America, which it indicates also have not budged, given a point or two, since 1976.  The top three recommendations center on universal early childhood education, increasing the federal living wage to $15 per hour indexed to inflation and developing a plan to fund comprehensive urban infrastructure.

    “We’re talking. We’re highlighting the challenges, and then, we’re proposing some solutions,” Mr. Morial said.

    The plan also recommends developing a new Main Street small- and micro-business financing plan focusing on minority-and-women-owned businesses; expanding homeownership strategies; expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit; and targeted re-entry workforce training programs administered through community-based organizations.

    One recommendation law-makers could accomplish right away is to expand the youth employment program, Mr. Morial insisted.

    “I believe that the Black community has been resilient, strong, withstood the ravages of the recession, however, that the work ahead to confront the deep and difficult economic problems are not going to be easy,” Mr. Morial stated.

    He acknowledged the first Black president has been constrained by the legislative branch.
    Some 300 Urban Leaguers delivered its report to members of Congress, and to members of President Obama’s administration. 

    “We want people to see what the numbers say, but we also want them to focus on some of the solutions,” Mr. Morial said.  

    Low priority
    “Closing the racial economic gap has not been a priority for anybody,” said Dr. Julianne Malveaux, economist, author, and former president of Bennett College for Women.

    She said while people have been interested in seeing, they have not been interested in closing that gap.  “In order to do that, that requires us to target the disadvantaged, which would be unemployed African-Americans, and this president, despite all of his good intentions, has simply not done that,” Dr. Malveaux told The Final Call.

    She said just letting the rising tide lift all the loads might render people better off collectively, but not from a community perspective.
                        
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    Today, many say the call is still for jobs, housing and justice. Photo: Haroon Rajaee

    “That’s the bottom line, no one has seen the material condition of African-American people be a priority matter in terms of their platforms, and that has been true of every president … call the roll of Jimmy Carter, of Ronald Reagan, of Bill Clinton, of Bush 1 of Bush 2,” Dr. Malveaux continued.

    When the above have simply said ‘let’s improve the macro-economic situation,’ the improvement was fine but failed to close gaps, she explained.

    As she reiterates in her new book, “Are We Better Off:  Race, Obama and Public Policy,” Dr. Malveaux said Blacks just don’t ask for what they need.  “You will not get fed in your mother’s house if you do not bring your plate to the table.  And we do not bring our plate to the table.  We assumed that in this Obama presidency, he knew what we needed,” she stated.

    The problem is Blacks did not ask him, nor did they push him on their needs, so he did what he did, according to Dr. Malveaux.  She said Blacks tried to play nice and tried to make sure no one criticized him.

    “I’m not blaming him at all, but I’m just saying a squeaky wheel will get the grease … Latinos are criticizing him. The LBGT criticizes him … but we’re the only ones who want to hold our power back, and by holding our power back, what we’re saying is we’re unwilling to engage this president in what he needs to do for our community,” said. Dr. Malveaux.

    More recommendations for solutions SOBA offered were to double the Pell Grant program to make college more affordable, expand financial literacy and homebuyer education and counseling; expand the low-income housing voucher “Section 8” program and establish Green Empowerment Zones in neighborhoods with high unemployment.

    In addition, making affordable high-speed broadband and technology available to all, and increased federal funding to local school districts to help eliminate resource equity gaps are proposed.
    “We have to challenge these candidates on what their agenda is, and we have to change the conversation from asking them what their agenda is to a conversation that says can you support our agenda,”  said Marc Morial.

    Equality Index
    In the 1960s and 1970s, poverty rates declined, then pushed forward after that, according to the SOBA report.  Mr. Morial said that stemmed from former Pres. Lyndon Johnson’s lost war on poverty, as well as former Pres. Ronald Reagan’s dramatic cuts in domestic programs, in safety net programs, the early 1980s recession in the Northeast and Midwest and late 80s recession in the Sun Belt due to the decline of oil. 

    In addition, minimum wage increases have been sporadic and have not kept the pace with inflation over the last 40 years and have been dramatic in the last 10 years, he explained.

    “Poverty in America should not be understood as ‘unemployment in America.’  A lot of poverty in America is working people who earn money but they don’t earn sufficient money to pay their bills,” Mr. Morial said.

    He added, “We have to confront that we’ve been going through a period of 50 years after the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, 60 years after Brown v. Board.  We have to confront this remaining set of issues, which really are around economic inequality, racial economic inequality, and that’s what we have to focus on in the future.”

    SOBA’s effort includes this year’s Equality Index, which gives a snapshot of inequalities people face in their hometowns.  Researchers looked at employment and income equality for Blacks and Whites, Hispanics and Whites in 70 metropolitan areas.

    The Black-White Index indicates Black America stands at 72.2 percent of where Whites stand in various socio-economic categories compared to a revised 2015 index of 72.0 percent. 

    The report indicates an increase in the education index stemmed from improvements in college attainment and enrollment.  The increase in the economics index came primarily through progress in closing the digital divide as well as lower denial rates for Blacks seeking mortgage and home improvement loans. 

    The unemployment and homeownership gaps remained unchanged from the previous year, and improvements in the social justice index resulted from a decline in the Black incarceration rate, while the incarceration rate for Whites following an arrest grew by more than the rate for Blacks.

    Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, director of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative CFED (Corporation for Enterprise Development)—Expanding Economic Opportunity, identified raising the minimum wage to $15 and homeownership as some paths out of poverty and some of the disparities highlighted by SOBA.

    He noted that the 1967 Freedom Budget advocated by strong civil rights advocates like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael), the NAACP and Urban League aimed to really advance Black freedom. 

    “Obviously, those things weren’t implemented and that I think is a root of much of the challenges we face today, but part of that was to raise the minimum wage and the number that they had would have been about $14 in today’s dollars,” he said.

    “It’s interesting that they were calling for a minimum wage all the way back to 1967, which we haven’t hit.  So I do think the $15 minimum wage is an important step forward particularly when you look at currently $7.25 is the federal minimum wage.  So clearly that is an important step,” Mr. Asante-Muhammad told The Final Call.

    Homeownership is essential, he said, because while Blacks are clearly never going to get to 100 percent home ownership rate of Whites, it is at least the number one asset and source of wealth for all Americans.

    Blacks need what has been offered to make Whites majority homeowners, Mr. Asante-Muhammad recommended. That has been massive investment into home ownership, government programs—oftentimes the GI Bill—that allowed people with very little income to put up a down payment and have affordable mortgage payments.

    He argued, “Some people will try to push forth this idea that people should put more in stocks and less in homes, but everyone has to live somewhere.  So if your housing cost can be an asset versus renting, or your housing cost is just a deficit that you spend every month and you get no return and some people will teach you home ownership say you only get on average one percent return or two percent return but one percent is a much better return than no return at all … which is the other option?”

    Put the Muslim Program Before Congress
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    The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan did as advised by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and has taken the Nation of Islam patriarch’s Muslim Program to the steps of the Congress of the United States. Photo: NOI.org/TheTime
    In his unprecedented 52-week series, “The Time and What Must Be Done,” and again during his keynote address at the historic 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March—Justice or Else! gathering, Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan did as advised by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. He took the Nation of Islam patriarch’s Muslim Program to the steps of the Congress of the United States. The solution for Blacks in America lies in guidance laid out by Mr. Muhammad, teaches Min. Farrakhan, his National Representative.


    “Your program—the one I have given you which is carried in the first part of this chapter—should be put before Congress.  The Civil Rights Bill and integration will not stand and can never bring independence to you and your people, no matter who is President.  The wisest and surest way to success is to unite behind me. I assure you that, with the help of Allah, you will accomplish your goals—money, good homes, and friendships in all walks of life,” said Min. Farrakhan, quoting from Mr. Muhammad’s seminal book, Message To The Blackman in America in the chapter titled “Program and Position.” “Ultimately we are going to be such a troublesome species of property that the Congress itself is going to have to rule on something like this,” the Minister continued. 

    Minister Farrakhan pointed out during his October 10, 2015 address on the steps of the Nation’s Capital in Washington, D.C., “The Muslim Program, which appeared in The Muhammad Speaks newspaper and appears inside The Final Call, it is not just for Muslims. It calls for justice regardless of creed, class or color.”

    In its over 85 year history in America, the Nation of Islam has taught that Black people must unite, pool their resources, purchase land and stop “begging” from the government or others what they can and must do for themselves. “Politics without economics is symbol without substance,” Min. Farrakhan has repeatedly pointed out.

      

    Rebuilding The 'HoodBy Richard B. Muhammad, Eric Ture Muhammad and Kenetta Muhammad -The Final Call- | Last updated: Apr 12, 2016 - 11:30:33 AM

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    the-bluff_atlanta_04-19-2016a.jpg
    (L-R) A child wears 10,000 Fearless onesie. | Volunteer puts paint brush to work. | Photo: Rashaad Muhammad | Clearing brush and landscaping is part of beautification efforts. Photo: Erick Muhammad Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad and Rev. Timothy McDonald are making a difference in The Bluff. Photo via Facebook

    ATLANTA—“God is in The Bluff,” a long ignored part of a city once called the New Mecca for Blacks, but it’s no spook or spirit, it’s live men, women and even children on a mission to resurrect this neighborhood known for drugs, violence and poverty.


    The phrase was coined by Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad, head of the local Nation of Islam mosque and its Southeast Region, who works in tandem with Reverend Timothy McDonald. A fruitful Muslim-Christian relationship is making the community a decent place to live—following a directive from Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan from the movement’s headquarters in Chicago and in major addresses in Detroit and Chicago earlier this year.

    Speaking at a special meeting webcast from Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad passionately shared the work of the 10,000 Fearless Men & Women in his city, which is credited with bringing more change in months than in 50 years.

    “The thing we have to do is obey the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” said the former Nation of Islam Supreme Captain pushing the rebirth of The Bluff. The Minister called for 10,000 Fearless to restore Black communities last year during and in the run-up to the successful Justice Or Else! 20th anniversary gathering of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C., last October.

    Blacks are suffering regardless of their religious affiliation, observed Rev. McDonald, who spoke April 5 at the same special meeting in Chicago.
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    Patrol vehicles and transportation vans used by the 10,000 Fearless working to make a Black community a decent place to live. Photo via Facebook

    Min. Farrakhan shared his joy at the work underway in Atlanta and called for it to spread across the country. Brother Sharrieff Muhammad was given a command and found a way to produce the desired results, said Min. Farrakhan.
                        
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    “I would like to see the example of Brother Sharrieff and Rev. McDonald duplicated, triplicated, quadruplicated, quintuplicated all over this nation,” said Min. Farrakhan during April 5 Mosque Maryam meeting. Photo: Haroon Rajaee
    The details about the assignment were not given but the commitment to do the work was there, he continued. You are more equipped to do things than you think, the Minister told Muslim members watching via the internet. Faith is required to do great work and Jesus admonished his disciples to have greater faith, Min. Farrakhan added.


    When you are doing something others will come to help—even Caucasians eager to avoid God’s chastisement will assist, but you have to do something, he said.

    Don’t be afraid to stand up in my name, Min. Farrakhan continued. Brother Sharrieff Muhammad was not afraid and is having success and God did not come for us to be unsuccessful, he said.

    In March over 160 volunteers from 30 organizations worked beautifying The Bluff using paint and other supplies and equipment donated by Home Depot of Southwest Atlanta. The work is based out of the 10,000 Fearless Headquarters of the South, a home purchased in The Bluff. The English Avenue Community, commonly known as “The Bluff,” has the highest crime rate in Georgia.                     
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    Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad, Ishmael Muhammad and Rev. Timothy McDonald at special meeting in Chicago. Photo: Rashaad Muhammad

    In 2005, Student Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad established People United For Change Inc., which partners with 10,000 Fearless Men & Women to bring free resources to the community at the headquarters housed at 801 Joseph E. Boone Blvd., in Atlanta.

    People United For Change Inc., Home Depot, 10,000 Fearless, Muhammad Mosque No. 15, the Atlanta LOC for Justice or Else! and Sankofa United Church of Christ, under the leadership of Reverend Derrick Rice, united to create “Making Our Community a Decent Place to Live”  Day March 18 in The Bluff.

    But the movement started by simply following the instructions of Minister Farrakhan: People United for Change and the 10,000 Fearless Men & Women of the South moved into the community together and started to help fix up houses. They started beautifying the neighborhood by painting houses, improving landscaping and even fixing siding on homes. Karriemah Muhammad went to hardware and paint stores asking for donations. A visit to Home Depot in Southwest Atlanta led to store manager Jeff Stallings joining the effort.

    Student Minister Sharrieff shared how he told those offering to help that there would be no strings attached to any donation or assistance. They are not used to Black men standing up like men, he said.
    As the environment improved, there was a decision to hide dilapidated homes behind a wall with a mural, he recalled. City officials fought the wall but eventually tore down the blighted structures. When city employees asked who gave permission for the wall and the mural, Student Minister said he responded: “God did!” Then he asked city officials: Who gave permission for neighborhood neglect to run rampant?

    While providing free food and clothing, it became clear some in need or even homeless were military veterans, said Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad. The group’s Ambassador for Veterans Affairs, Michael Duncan, did intake and discovered vets were having problems getting services, he said. Refusing to take no for an answer, or be given the runaround, led to a meeting with Veterans Administration officials and connections to ease the suffering of those who served this country, said the Nation of Islam student minister. He was joined in the meeting by Mr. Duncan.
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    The headquarters for the 10000 Fearless of the South and the base for revitalizing a suffering Atlanta neighborhood. Photo: Erick Muhammad

    In that meeting, Min. Sharrieff Muhammad added, Veterans Administration officials were told flat out that “Farrakhan’s man in Atlanta” was who they were dealing with. It resulted in promises to streamline veterans and promises for a follow-up meeting if the sit down didn’t yield results.


    “I worked in this community 32 years ago,” said Mr. Duncan. He often felt alone, opposed by housing officials and felt indirect threats from police. He is a disabled vet, but after Barry Muhammad invited him to join the 10,000 Fearless, he found allies. “Now, it feels good to be in an environment where you are not the only one trying to do the work. I know this is God’s work. I believe that when you allow your hands, your mouth and your strength to be a tool for his purpose, he will lead you, he’ll take over,” he said.                     
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    A youngster gets coaching as he helps out. Photo: Erick Muhammad

    His evaluation of veterans logs their vital needs, branches of the service and their benefits denials. Many were in the VA database but were mistreated, ignored or turned away before Mr. Duncan started literally walking individual veterans through the bureacracy. It was traumatizing for these men and women being rejected after serving their country, he explained.

    “At the time that I served it was during the U.S. invasion of Grenada. And if they were sending you there, you could not say you weren’t going. They’d put you in jail. Under their rules during a time of war, they could hang you for treason,” Mr. Duncan shared. “You have men who were subjected to that kind of treatment, who have rights who are entitled. So we are walking people back through this system and we are demanding access on their behalf to get them what they deserve.”

    The Bluff restoration effort has included fixing roofs, putting up new fences, picking up trash, landscaping and creating a peace garden. Health screenings, food giveaways, conflict resolution and training to join the 10,000 Fearless are held at the 24-hour center. The headquarters also provides counseling, youth programs, culinary arts and other training. An “Occupy the Corner” initiative involving several groups trains to patrol The Bluff. The training suite is named after a longtime Nation of Islam pioneer, Minister Abdul Rahman Muhammad.

    An April health fair, led by the Mosque No. 15 Ministry of Health and Human Services and Alternative Health Practitioners, was held at the 10,000 Fearless headquarters. The focus was health education and alternatives to traditional medicine. Passersby and residents waded through sidewalk tables and displays, had their blood pressure taken and were engaged in conversations about health. Louis Muhammad, Saabirah Muhammad and others are responsible for community outreach.                     
    the-bluff_atlanta_04-19-2016e.jpg
    Muslim woman lends hand to inspiring effort. Photo via Facebook

    Lavania Morris, 63, was born and raised in the Bluff. For 15 years, she has needed dentures. “The impact of 10,000 Fearless on me and in the community is a godsend. Let the church say amen,” she exclaimed.  “It’s a nice program they have done wonderful work and a miracle for me,” as she proudly, showed off a toothless smile. “Sometimes, I help here with the food and clothing and whatever, and it feels good to work on our community first and make it proud and beautiful. Brother Sharrieff is so loving and kind. Brother Farrakhan taught him well,” she said.

    “He (Brother Sharrieff) sent a man to make a mold for my mouth and he made me teeth and they are being given to me at no cost,” she added. “The sisters, Kenetta and Alicia Muhammad, have fitted me with outfits. I have always been dreaming on showing my culture. But the impact the brothers and sisters have had on me and this neighborhood has been so loving, so strong and I thank God.”

    Chicago native Haroun Shahid Wakil lives in Atlanta and works with 10,000 Fearless through The Street Groomers, a collective of former so-called gang members working on freedom for U.S. political prisoners and those forced to live in exile. Mr. Wakeel frequents The Bluff headquarters. He assists with community patrols and educates residents about political prisoners. “It’s a bunch of guys that come from the streets—the GDs, the Stones, the Vice Lords—that decided to come together over common issues. Right now we are trying to get Imam Malik and Larry Hoover out, they both are political prisoners. But the work of the 10,000 Fearless, the fixing up and cleaning up is very positive,” he said.

    Gerald Rose of the Atlanta-based New Order National Human Rights Organization stopped by for an impromptu meeting with Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad and to lend support for the rebuilding work. “This is my first time over here, but I heard of the efforts toward saving this community. So I physically wanted to come over here and thank Minister Sharrieff and offer my support. I have known him for quite a while,” he recalled. “I come to congratulate him and to meet with him over how we can continue our work together.”

    Reginald Ward, a 58-year-old Bluff resident, took a break from distributing food and clothes in front of the 10,000 Fearless headquarters. He lives on the streets and sleeps in nearby woods. When it rains, he rests on the front steps of a nearby church. He sat along a sidewalk, eating a bell pepper and watching people pick through donated clothes. He had just laid out the clothes for display.

    “I have stroke on the brain, an enlarged heart, and emphysema. Smoking has destroyed both of my lungs. I have an enlarged prostate and vein damage in my legs. They are in constant pain. The doctors have to perform ultrasound just to get a pulse from my feet,” he told The Final Call.

    “But God is my deliverer,” he said. “This has been a destroyed community. I see them working for us and I do what I can to help. I read the Holy Qur’an and the Bible and I find them both saying the same things. Our people need each other. It’s about choice. These people have done a lot” in a few months, he said.

    “They are teaching us that God is real and without him, we don’t have anything. And we haven’t had anything for a long time, until the 10,000 has come. So, I spend a lot of time on the corners where the brothers be and I tried to teach them and show them what I know and tell them to help ourselves here. I thank God. He is real,” Mr. Ward said.

    Joy Muhammad, 11, is youth ambassador for the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee and goes after young people in The Bluff. “The Joshua Generation is the forefront of the Nation and we are going into the community and will hear and obey the instructions of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. The goal is to go into the community with our modest clothing, and we will talk to the young girls and do community events together,” she said.

    The success in The Bluff is an example of what can happen when egos are checked at the door, said Rev. McDonald, pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church and chair of the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee of the Justice Or Else! movement. In 1995, Rev. McDonald served as Atlanta LOC head for the Million Man March.

    Future plans call for technology centers and bringing in Black businesses to keep money circulating in the community, he said.

     “Islam is a religion of peace and it has been demonized by the likes of Donald Trump and others who play on the xenophobic paranoia of our White brothers and sisters,” said Rev. Anthony Motley, pastor of Lindsey Street Baptist Church for 35 years. “We welcome the Nation of Islam into the English Avenue community. The Nation of Islam has an excellent track record for taking Black males and ministering to them and giving them a sense of hope and discipline and dignity and introducing them to God through the Muslim faith, and we applaud that.”

    It’s Time To Start Telling The Truth About Farrakhan

    By Dr. Boyce Watkins | Last updated: Mar 22, 2016 - 10:50:45 AM

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    The world is changing, and we owe most of this change to the Internet.  Ideas are being spread at lightning speed, and people have faster and more immediate access to perspectives and information than ever before.

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    In the age of the Internet, it’s also become more and more difficult to defend a lie, unless it happens to be a lie with which you’re most comfortable. In other words, the web is a place where you can either hunt down the truth or bury your head in the sand. This is one of the reasons that our nation hasn’t been this divided since the Civil War.

    One lie that was well-protected for many decades is the idea of Minister Louis Farrakhan as an anti-semitic extremist. Some have even used terms like “reverse racist”, which are designed to alleviate America of the guilt of what’s been done to Black people for the last 400 years.
    The release of important books like “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander and “Black Labor, White Wealth” by Dr. Claud Anderson, have unveiled the depth of abuse that Black people have endured since slavery, and how these transgressions impact our society today.

    One of the few leaders capable of connecting the struggles of our community with the trauma of the past is Minister Farrakhan. Farrakhan is one of the few members of the Black community who is respected by both his friends and enemies. He’s served well as a thinker, builder, orator, spiritual guide, mentor, father-figure and spokesperson for a community that has had to redefine its leadership over the last five years.                     
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    When rappers refuse to speak to one another, they respond to Farrakhan’s call for reconciliation.

    When the people of Baltimore and Ferguson refused to talk to most old school civil rights leaders, they still paid close attention to the words of Farrakhan.

    When Farrakhan has appeared on media outlets such as The Breakfast Club, the largest urban radio show in the country, the world stood still to hear what he had to say.

    When Farrakhan asked a million Black men to come to Washington, they came in droves and did it again 10 and 20 years later.

    The Minister can go into the darkest and most dangerous parts of any city in America and be fully protected by men of all age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds. No politician, advocate or police officer in the world can say the same thing. The reason Farrakhan is respected, especially by Black men, is that he gives us love in a society that is designed to hate, emasculate, criminalize and destroy us. For many of us, he’s all we’ve got.

    In some ways, Minister Farrakhan might be considered the president of the Black community. Of course, not everyone loves the Minister, and he has made a few mistakes over his 60 years of service. But even his harshest critics have a tough time thinking of anything the Minister has done in the last 30 years that has been anything short of productive and uplifting for Black people.

    If a critic is asked to quote any hateful remark Farrakhan has made over the last 30 years, they are left grasping for whatever they can, like a desperate drug addict trying to find money for crack. They are addicted to hating Farrakhan, even if there is little reason to do so, even if they’ve never heard him speak for more than 30 seconds. Brainwashing is difficult to overcome and it might be more painful to acknowledge the truth than it is to keep taking his words out of context.
                        
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    Farrakhan’s greatest strength is his authenticity. He and the Nation of Islam have shown a type of unconditional love for Black people that even the Black community itself cannot comprehend. They stand by us when we are at our worst, and have been arguably the most consistent and self-determined institution in our community. The Nation of Islam shows us that Black people can prosper with dignity, and without begging others to save us. The capacity of members of the Nation to forgive and accept us for who we are is an extraordinary breath of fresh air in a world where we are taught to hate everything about our dark skin and ambiguous culture. Farrakhan and his organization make us PROUD.

    When the police, government and educational systems have abandoned us, the Nation of Islam was always there. When we’ve needed an economic program, they’ve worked to put one together. When our role models were being shipped away to American slave camps (aka prisons), the men of the Nation of Islam were the cleanest, sharpest, most articulate and polite men in the entire neighborhood.

    It is because Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam are so beloved and respected that many of us have a difficult time understanding why mainstream media has worked so hard to paint the Minister in ways that are not in the least bit accurate. The fact that a man can be so loved by Black people and hated by Whites is yet another reminder of just how deep the racial divide remains in America.

    The use of propaganda to defame one of the most respected men in the African American community wins absolutely no friends for the Anti-Defamation League. Their insistence that Farrakhan is not even worthy of a meeting is insulting and hurtful to the African American community and indicative of disrespect for the Black community as a whole. It is also reflective of a fear that revealing the truth through a direct meeting with the Minister would undermine many decades of propaganda that have been used to paint him as some kind of deranged and violent bigot.

    The same was done to the Black Panthers.
    The same was done to Malcolm X.
    The same was done to Marcus Garvey.
    The list goes on and on.
    How can you judge a man so harshly when you refuse to even hear him speak? What are you afraid of?

    This century is the first time in American or world history that Black people have been able to communicate with one another without going through media filters controlled by somebody else. We aren’t learning about Minister Farrakhan through CBS News or reading about him in the New York Times. We are hearing from him directly on the Internet, which means that his 20-plus year blackball from mainstream media outlets has come to an end.

    My own meetings with the Minister included a three-hour conversation in which he and I sat knee-to-knee in his office, discussing every topic under the sun, from the state of the educational system to issues in American politics. The entire time, I felt like I was speaking to my own grandfather, and it was a relief to hear from a senior Black man who didn’t live his life in fear, but at the same time, was able to possess enough love in his heart to forgive his enemies.

    Farrakhan is certainly NOT the hate-filled caricature that has been created in mainstream media. Such a fictional portrayal of one of Black America’s most respected leaders is not only one that is easily disproven by the Minister’s own YouTube channel, but it’s one that causes all of us to question the credibility of those who seek to feed such a lie to the American public.

    The ADL and other groups must realize that stubbornly refusing to meet with Minister Farrakhan does not reduce the impact of his legacy. It only speaks to the kind of arrogance that White supremacy creates in a world where Black people are perceived to be second-class citizens. The Minister is strong, even if you want to pretend that he does not exist.  He is the elephant in your room, and it’s better to coordinate with the elephant’s strength than to try to sweep him under a rug.

    Jewish leaders, even when they are at their most extreme, are respected by the American government and the Black community. Black public figures deserve the same respect. I cannot speak for Minister Farrakhan, but I highly doubt that there is any member of ADL leadership who would not be invited into his home for dinner and be treated with complete respect.

    The truth can set us free, but it also indicts those who’ve sought to protect a lie. It’s time to either start telling the truth about Farrakhan, or allow him to speak for himself. You can’t call a man anti-Semitic for 30 years without at least hearing what he has to say. Such behavior is deeply disturbing, counter-productive and perhaps even fraudulent. It’s time for bridges to be built and for seasons to change.

    It’s also time to start telling the TRUTH about Farrakhan.

    Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Ph.D., and founder of The Black Economic Empowerment Tour, designed to share ideas on Economic Empowerment throughout the world. To learn more, please visit BoyceWatkins.com. This column was originally published on http://financialjuneteenth.com.

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