CHICAGO (FinalCall.com) – Rising to the tremendous task of delivering a keynote address on behalf of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Minister Ishmael Muhammad marked a successful note in history on the 11th anniversary of the Million Man March Holy Day of Atonement. It was the first major address in his rebuilding of the Nation of Islam since 1977 that Minister Farrakhan did not stand before the world in person to represent the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Convalescing from residual complications of radiation treatment for cancer, Min. Farrakhan placed that assignment on the shoulders of his national assistant.
“It is an extreme honor and privilege that he would have enough confidence in me,” Min. Ishmael began his lecture. “I know that I am not worthy to stand before the people of God to give a message that is worthy, but I will do my best to do what I have been asked to do so that in the end he and Allah (God) will be pleased.”
The anticipation in the audience was palpable; the pressure on Min. Ishmael was perceptible. But with concise and passionate remarks, punctuated with disarming humor, he offered a message of motivation and affirmation from the rostrum of Christ Universal Temple Oct. 15, entitled, “Why A Millions More Movement?”
Approximately 100 cities throughout the country, along with the Toronto, Canada; the Caribbean and United Kingdom, received the message either via satellite or webcast. The spectrum of leadership that lies at the core of the Millions More Movement was reflected on the dais and in the audience, with a diverse group of leaders standing in continued support of the aims of the Movement, such as Indianapolis Imam Mohammed Sadiq representing Imam Warith Deen Muhammad and the Muslim American Society; Min. Zarockyah Ben Israel of the Hebrew Israelite Community; veteran educator Florence Cox; popular radio talk show personality Ramonski Love; Reverend David Wendell from the Unification Church; Rayford Johnson of RAS Developers and attorneys William Hooks and Lionel Jean-Baptiste. Among the distinguished guests were representatives from the offices of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Harvey, Ill. Mayor Eric Kellogg; Martin Sanchez from the Venezuelan Consul General for Chicago; veteran journalist John Davis who conducted the interviews for The Final Call documentary on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, “Unmasking New Orleans”; and a special delegation of Latino activists led by Emma Lozana and Reverend Slim Coleman, the founders of Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People without Borders).
Beginning the program with enlightening remarks on the agricultural industry, Nation of Islam Minister of Health Dr. Alim Muhammad charged that corporations have attacked our health through unsafe practices such as chemical fertilizers and genetically modified food. To a collective gasp of shock, he informed the audience of a recent study in the United Kingdom that found that it takes four to five carrots today to equal the nutritional value of one carrot in the 1950’s.
“Everyone wants to feel the power of God, but not in a weakened way. We have to have the right nutrition in us in order to realize our dreams,” he said, stressing that the first mandate in establishing the nine ministries is to take charge of agriculture and food production.
The international community also took a moment to acknowledge their commitment to the Millions More Movement. Nation of Islam International Representative Minister Akbar Muhammad noted remarks of support from Reverend Jesse Jackson, founder of Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, and also shared that Ricardo Alarcon, head of the Cuban General Assembly, Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, had sent letters of support for the Millions More Movement.
A powerful series of prayers in an ecumenical expression of unity, with reverends Dr. Maxine Walker of Spiritual Perspectives, and Dr. Hycel B. Taylor, concluded the program, which lasted for a little over an hour-and-a-half. From the opening to closing prayers, an attentive, warm and responsive audience listened to Min. Ishmael implore them to keep the Movement moving.
After opening by extending his gratitude for the outpouring of love, gifts and prayers to Minister Farrakhan for his restoration, he gave an update on Minister Farrakhan’s health. “The condition that the radiation has created causes him to have good days and bad days,” he said Minister Farrakhan told him to share. “He is in constant pain,” he reported, adding that doctors are diligently working on ways to help ease the inflammation and infections, as nutritionists seek to stimulate the self-healing of Minister Farrakhan’s body.
In spite of the intense pain, “Minister Farrakhan does not allow this affliction to afflict his spirit,” Min. Ishmael continued, to the applause of the capacity crowd inside the church, which is headed by Reverend Johnnie Coleman. “I know that there is a Power present that can restore him fully to health. But we are here because we have to decide if in his absence we are going to continue a movement,” he said, preparing to delve into the heart of his message.
In order to keep the movement alive, Min. Ishmael stressed the need to know how the enemy of the rise of our people operates on successful organizations: by fostering tensions, bloating egos, discrediting leadership and manipulating envy to splinter a movement into competing groups. He challenged leaders to subordinate their egos and examine their initial motives for standing with Minister Farrakhan last year when he first called for the Millions More Movement. From all the faith traditions to Black conscious organizations, he called the roll of historic examples where an organization remained, while movement stopped after the enemy targeted it.
“If the Lord does not guide our building, it was in vain. If it was vanity, if it was self-seeking to be seen of men, if it was for title, then we will never succeed in reaching the attainable goal that is in the idea of a movement,” he insisted.
“Get up! Get up!” he said, imploring everyone to work as a team instead of individuals seeking self-aggrandizement, out of the recognition that our people are dying while we enjoy the comforts of our lives.
“We need to recognize the gifts that make each of us unique and able to complement one another. Just like in football, the quarterback can’t catch the ball and throw the ball to himself, and then run and make a touchdown,” he light-heartedly illustrated.
With smiles, chuckles and nodding heads, the audience responded with a standing ovation. “The quarterback has to have a line,” he poignantly brought that point to a conclusion. “Are we ready to work as a team? It’s going to take all of us.”
As he grew more comfortable and relaxed in his delivery, Min. Ishmael seamlessly transitioned from offering brotherly encouragement, ministerial counsel and positive criticism, to finally driving his message home with a definitive tone of determination.
“What is important is the day after, when people usually retreat or disappear. Many go back on their word or there needs to be greater clarity and understanding of the idea–but we have to remain at the table. Keep on deliberating, keep on planning,” he maintained. “The legacy of Minister Farrakhan is not his eloquence, it is not his charisma. His legacy is the vision and ideas that he received and embodied from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, that is now pregnant in us,” he declared. “We will not let the Movement die.”