Farrakhan takes Tampa!By Richard B. Muhammad and Ashahed M. Muhammad Final Call Staffers | Last updated: Oct 19, 2010 - 9:24:48 AM
But Sunday, Oct. 17, was no day off: It was devoted to a keynote address by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan to mark the 15th anniversary of the Million Man March, which drew nearly two million Black men to the nation's capitol, and a Holy Day of Atonement built on the principles of atonement, reconciliation and responsibility.
“This is a beautiful city,” Min. Farrakhan told the crowd of 8,000 people assembled inside the Tampa Convention Center. “There are beautiful buildings, beautiful bridges, pretty sand, all of the things that really fascinate the eye but the ugliness is not the beautiful buildings, the ugliness is ignorant, underdeveloped human beings.
“Every human being has the possibility of reflecting God. Every human being has the possibility of achieving unlimited heights during the time of our life on this planet. Every human being should be afforded that human right to know, for whenever a human being is deprived of knowledge, they're deprived of that which evolves them to be what God created them to be...” he said.The Minister explained that the Bible says God created the heavens and the earth with wisdom, and the Holy Qur'an, the Islamic book of scripture, introduces God saying “I Allah (God) am the Best Knower.”
“How can anyone serve God in ignorance?” the Minister asked. “Ignorance is the enemy of God. Knowledge will make us the friend of God and it will allow us to befriend one another, therefore all of the prophets taught us to get knowledge,” he said.
“No human should be afraid to know more. No human being should feel threatened by one who possesses knowledge,” said Min. Farrakhan. “So much ignorance exists that all of us who know whatever degree of knowledge we have, we have a responsibility to those who do not know to share that knowledge not seeking to make them our followers or slaves but share knowledge to improve them spiritually (and) mentally that they may improve themselves socially, politically, economically and otherwise,” he said.
“The Hon. Elijah Muhammad taught us that the brain cells are created by God to think rightly and everything you see of God's creation is truth,” said Minister Farrakhan. “To think right, the mind must be fed with truth, with facts, with reality.”
Part of the reality addressed by the Minister were harrowing conditions facing Blacks in the area—from high school dropout and incarceration rates, to disproportionate disciplinary rates among Black children to often jobless Black men, who rely on women for support.
He talked about how injustice in America had reduced and injured Blacks to such a degree that God Himself would have to come, and has come, to deliver a suffering people and judge the mighty nation they were forced to serve.
When a government gets so beyond the pale that humans cannot correct it, Divine intervention comes into play and God has intervened in America, appearing as the Great Mahdi, a powerful human being imbued with the power and wisdom of the Almighty, he said. That Mighty One, Master Fard Muhammad, taught and raised the Honorable Elijah Muhammad from a spiritually dead nation and raised him to the position of Christ, one anointed with power to crush the wicked, said Min. Farrakhan.
Blacks in America, who have been in bondage and oppression for over 400 years, fit the biblical description of the children of Israel, he explained. God has chosen Black people as his own people, Min. Farrakhan added.
But, he said, when God chooses a people, the first thing that people must do is shed fear and understand that no one deserves to be feared or worshipped but God.
It is time for Blacks to accept their own destiny and to become responsible for their own future, he said.
All human beings should seek increased knowledge to come closer to the mind of God and gain freedom from ignorance, false ideas and concepts, to excel and grow, said the Minister.
International audience for major message
His message was delivered to thousands inside the center, and thousands more viewed it via Internet webcast. His theme of atonement, reconciliation and responsibility matched the theme of the historic Million Man March, which took place on October 16, 1995.
It was the largest public rally in U.S. history, despite opposition and controversy.
After a rousing and spirited introduction by Rasul Muhammad, a son of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad who also serves as the Seventh Regional representative of the Nation of Islam, which covers Florida and parts of the Caribbean, Minister Farrakhan spoke into the hearts of an electrified audience.
“I make no excuse for my love for Black people. I don't apologize. All my life, my love was for God and for you.” said Minister Farrakhan. With the Million Man March, the Minister said he was focused on two things, God and Black people. In a personal way, Min. Farrakhan explained how his strong faith and connection to the Creator was forged: He spoke about how his mother tried to abort him three times using very crude methods, and after the third try, she gave up and grew closer to God through prayer.
“Her prayers were forming me for God,” said the Minister. “This is what you're looking at. And if you can't understand your brother, then when you really want to understand something, you go back to the beginning. You go back in the womb and see what went down because the womb is so sacred; the womb is so precious that whatever happens in the womb or on the womb marks the child.”
His father was a follower of Marcus Garvey and that movement inspired his mother as well. This caused her to ensure that her son learned about the struggle of Black people. This deep love of Black people and God guides the Minister's actions today.
“I was nurtured not on my pain, but I was nurtured on your pain. And it was your pain that ached my heart. It was your suffering that shaped me,” he said. “I came to give my life for you and for the freedom of our people, and I cannot wait to prove that to the world.”
Speaking directly to his detractors, and critics, he discussed some of the drama surrounding the Million Man March. For many, it was difficult to believe that God was with Minister Farrakhan's call until they looked out on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and saw a sea of Black men assembled.
“Black men shoulder to shoulder! Black men bolder and bolder!” said the Minister.
This impressed many world leaders, but it made some of those who were already envious and jealous of his ability to draw large enthusiastic crowds angrier. It also caused the enemies of the rise of Black people to fear him more, continually working to destroy him, and the Nation of Islam, but they have failed.
“The enemy is upset with Farrakhan because he can't make me afraid,” said Min. Farrakhan as many in the crowd jumped to their feet and cheered. “I speak what I want to speak to whom I want to speak it, when I want to speak it and don't give a damn about consequences!”
“If it is God in whom you put your trust, then the fear of men will leave you. If it is God in whom you put your trust, then nobody is bigger than God,” said Min. Farrakhan. “When a Black man, who has been the victim of oppression, can make a call for a million and two million men show up, see that's an army. God was behind that call and God put it in the hearts of those men to answer that call.”
Lessons from the Million Man March
The late singer Michael Jackson donated $100,000 to the men's march, which was funded by Black dollars, showing the power of unity and commitment—and a promised accounting report was issued following the gathering, said Min. Farrakhan.
The late Rosa Parks, the late Betty Shabazz, the late Dr. Dorothy Height and Maya Angelou were all present on that day, despite the “hard-hearted Hannahs” who had negative words to say because Black men were the focus of the march, recalled the Minister.
But the image of Black men was being used to justify a war on the Black community so the problem with the men had to be solved first, he said.
There were even some White people at the march, Min. Farrakhan noted. But, it was a day of love and peace and no one was mistreated and there was no crime in the District of Columbia that weekend, he said.
The Minister described how the day of the Million Man March, then President Bill Clinton left town and the government shut down. A military response was also planned if the men at the march got out of hand, said Min. Farrakhan.
But the Muslim leader told his security that day, he would not take any escape route and if there was danger or death, he would die on the National Mall with this people.
Despite having a powerful voice and powerful oratory, the Minister pointed out how he has never retaliated against others who have spoken ill of him or unjustly wronged and attacked him. Min. Farrakhan said he could excite passion in his audience but he has never misused his gift—or targeted anyone with harsh words.
“Make no mistake about it, if I start talking about killing folks, there's a whole lot a folks that are going to die but I will not use my power in a negative way. I have restrained myself and taken all kinds of abuse and never have I responded with violence. Never! And some of my enemies, if I said the word tonight they'd be dead in the morning!” he said.
“But the lives of our people are sacred to me, so I can take your abuse, and the only time you'll get a reaction from me and from us, is when you come to attack us, then you will find out the power that is with us, and that goes for the government of the United States as well.”
The audience was struck by the message and often interrupted the Minister with applause and cheering. “I've heard so much about this man that I just had to come and hear him for myself. People told me he was racist and a bigot but I didn't hear that at all. If I just went by the naysayers I would have missed something beautiful and wonderful.I'm so glad I followed my own mind and didn't listen to them. We need the eight steps of atonement. I have some atoning to do myself,” said Sonia Jamerson.
Peter and Annette Blackerby, Tampa residents, heard the Minister in Tampa. The husband had heard Min. Farrakhan earlier this year in Rosemont, Ill., for the first time. The couple listened carefully to the message. “I was very impressed with the Honorable Minister with the way he was able to talk from the heart; the way he spoke about issues from the Bible, the Qur'an and he wove the truth in the way that was very easy for me to understand,” he said. “It clarified a lot of misconceptions that I had about the Nation of Islam. I had some media ideas that were incorrect and I came away with a different viewpoint. It is a viewpoint of peace. I heard references to things like the ‘White devil'—which in context, it makes perfect sense and it didn't make me say ‘hey,' well maybe I am in the wrong room,” he noted. “It was like ‘hey,' I totally got the references and things like that. So it is a very enlightening time for me,” he said.
While Muslims came from across the country to enjoy the weekend, others in the audience did the same traveling from places like South Carolina, driving for hours from Georgia and other points South to hear Min. Farrakhan live for the first time.
Reginald Latson made the drive from Georgia with a friend, both were happy they did. “I saw (Min. Farrakhan) in Atlanta deliver ‘The Real Children of Israel' and I was so impressed that I decided to come down and see him in Tampa, so it's the second time live.What affected me the most was his saying to take into account your own actions,” he said.
Laquasia Clinkscales lives in Melbourne, Fla., but is a New York native. She found out Min. Farrakhan would be in the area through the Internet. “His message for Tampa does what it does for all of us. It's inspiring.It's not a new message. It's one that those of us who have been following the Minister for a long time, we already know, if you're a believer. It inspires us to remember the things that we need to do. For me, it's just remembering and inspiring us to continue along the path, because things get hard and rough, but we have to remind ourselves of what the goal is and the goal is freedom. The goal is independence. The goal is to walk as God would have us walk and uplift our people and ourselves, of course,” Ms. Clinkscales said.
“I'm ready to be a Muslim right now. I want to get with this program. I love the way the brothers look and take care of business. I'm down with Farrakhan,” added an excited Jamal Robertson, a thirty-something-year-old Tampa resident.
(Charlene Muhammad, Nisa Islam Muhammad and Eric Muhammad contributed to this report.)