“Their reckoning draws nigh to men, and they turn away in heedlessness. There comes not to them a new Reminder from their Lord but they hear it while they sport, Their hearts trifling. And they–the wrongdoers–counsel in secret: He is nothing but a mortal like yourselves; will you then yield to enchantment while you see? He said: My Lord knows (every) utterance in the heaven and the earth, and He is the Hearer, the Knower.” –Holy Qur’an, Surah 21, verses 1-4
After having viewed three of the most controversial films of this year which included Mel Gibson’s, “The Passion of Christ”; the ecological disaster film, “The Day After Tomorrow” and the current award winning documentary by Michael Moore, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” we can more seriously confront this year’s Fourth of July, Independence Day celebration with the question, What is it All About? The week of June 19 – 26, one week before the onset of this past Fourth of July weekend, was truly an upbeat experience with fully developed community based cultural and educational programming.
It began with the celebration of the Legendary Katherine Dunham’s 95th birthday occurring during the summer solstice, and concluded with the date of the 26th, which blended harmoniously with our own cultural and educational program. The theme of our presentation was, “A Journey into Culture through International Fashion, Music and Spirituality.” This program was organized and sponsored by Muhammad Islamic Academy in St. Louis, Mo., by educators and directors Ibrahim and Janiece Muhammad. The setting was in an ornate theater auditorium of their newly acquired facilities of a former Masonic temple that still contained architectural structures and sculptures of ancient Egypt. The auditorium theater was set up in a banquet and dining arrangement and was filled to capacity. All of the supplies and presentation needs were provided entirely by the members of the Academy.
There are no adequate words to describe the absolute joy we experienced in that week which did not capture the aesthetic sense of culture, theater and drama that highlighted the meaning transported from the words of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan on the important development of the Cultural Revolution. The community participation from within our circle and from outside of the Nation of Islam was collaborative and instinctive in our focus on the education and training potential of our youth who were engaged throughout the evening in sharing their gifts, talents, skills and achievements to their attentive audience.
Ms. Dunham, who has earned several prestigious degrees in anthropology from the University of Chicago, grew up in the time period that corresponded to the Coming of Master Fard Muhammad to America, Who laid the foundation cornerstone of the Nation of Islam in the Western Hemisphere. These parallels, as we shall see, are quite striking in that all things, though separately viewed, are working together for the ultimate good in the passage of time.
Ms. Dunham was born in 1909–exactly one year before the Master began a 20-year period of travel back and forth to America beginning in 1910. In 1931, Ms. Dunham established the first dance school in Chicago. This is the same year that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad first met and spoke directly to Master Fard Muhammad, who was known then as W. D. Fard in Detroit, Michigan. In 1934, Ms. Dunham’s successful dance career was receiving rave reviews in both the American and European theatre, granting her leading roles in musicals, operas and cabarets throughout the world.
This same year marked the departure of Master Fard Muhammad from the city of Detroit. During the period of 1935 to 1942, Katherine Dunham choreographed more than 100 original works, which her dance troupe performed throughout the world. It was during this same period which the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was on the run up and down the East Coast for seven years, establishing teaching centers in several well-known cities, until he was arrested by the FBI in 1942 in Washington, D.C.
During those intense years while the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was formulating the basis of his Divine Teachings to our people, Ms. Dunham was continuing to make great strides in the world of culture, dance and the performing arts, establishing her great style and technique which has influenced the world of dance and educational training throughout the world. She is also known throughout the world as an outspoken social activist in the cause of the freedom of expression and human rights causes for her people, and undertook a 47-day hunger strike in 1993 at the age of 82 to protest the political injustices of the people of Haiti and its first elected president.
There were 95 commemorative candles that were lit in the audience wishing her a happy 95th birthday. One of the great memories that I will always cherish from this event was to witness the placement of the Honorable Minister Farrakhan on her right side as protector and friend, whom she holds in the highest esteem. In his remarks, as reported in my last article, he spoke of her influence in guiding his early career as a calypso artist.
Minister Farrakhan was born in 1933, right in the midst of the before-mentioned historical parallels between her life and that of the establishment of the Nation of Islam. Now, in this year, 2004, we see the emergence of the Honorable Minister Farrakhan’s Spiritual Guidance from Almighty God, Allah, as he reaches the pinnacle of greatness in this world’s life, bringing together with our spirituality the blending of culture and a high civilization.
He is in the forefront of musical attainment and refinement and is opening to us the whole spectrum of the performing arts in Theater and in the Movie Industry, guiding to a New and Vibrant Universal Cultural Revolution. So truly, our celebration of July 4th this year has come to a turning point of global dynamics of change, leading to our true Independence Day. We are seeing one world passing away to be replaced by a New World of Peace and Happiness and Eternal Joy.
“And We sent not before thee any but men to whom We sent revelation; so ask the followers of the Reminder if you know not. Nor did We give them bodies not eating food, nor did they abide. Then We made Our promise good to them; so We delivered them and whom We pleased, and We destroyed the extravagant. Certainly We have revealed to you a Book which will give you eminence. Do you not then understand?”
-Holy Qur’an, Surah 21, verses 7-10
To be continued.