(FinalCall.com) – The Delaware Valley region of the Nation of Islam, which covers cities in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, have been working hard to bring the Millions More Movement (MMM) into a working reality, according to Minister Rodney Muhammad, the regional minister and head of Muhammad’s Mosque No. 12 in Philadelphia.
The cities in Pennsylvania are Philadelphia, Chester, Harrisburg and Pittsburg; in Delaware: Wilmington and Dover; and in New Jersey: Willingsboro, Camden and Atlantic City.
“Our number one issue in Philadelphia for the Millions More Movement is stopping the violence,” explained Michael Coard, president of the Philadelphia MMM, to The Final Call. Violence, right now must be our main issue, he reiterated. Kenny Gamble, the founder of Philadelphia International Records, serves as the Philadelphia MMM chairman.
“Young Black males have a greater chance of being murdered in Philadelphia than a U.S. soldier has of getting killed in the Iraq war,” the Washington Post stated recently. The 2006 murder rate was 406, with Philadelphia having the highest homicide rate out of the 10 most populous cities at 28 per 100,000 people, according to Wikipedia.
Min. Muhammad says that there have been several events in Philadelphia over the past year that have focused on the violence issue. “We talk about these issues on our MMM radio show, which is heard for two hours every Saturday over WURD 900 AM,” he said.
On Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the MMM Self Defense Committee, under the direction of mosque captain Gregory Muhammad, and in conjunction with Jimmy Muhammad of the Prison Reform Ministry, held a workshop which was attended by 2,500 young people. There were prison lifers there to talk to at risk youth concerning the negative side of going to prison.
In March, the Youth Committee under the direction of Hank Wilson and Nykia Stith held a two-day event along with television’s Judge Joe Mathis where again, the theme was counseling youth. Also, the Youth Committee has held an “All Safe Night Out” event every year since the shootings at Columbine. Min. Muhammad says this is an opportunity to focus entirely on the children through constructive conversation.
“I am constantly in court defending young Black men who are accused of shooting another young Black man,” offers Mr. Coard. He said that there are far too many guns on the streets of Philadelphia, that is why the MMM is now working to file a lawsuit against the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has successfully lobbied to prevent any county in Pennsylvania from having anti-gun legislation.
“We are looking for survivors of victims of gun violence who will sign on to our lawsuit. The object of our lawsuit is to allow Philadelphia to finally be able to pass its own gun legislation,” Mr. Coard stressed.
Both Min. Muhammad and Mr. Coard emphasized the need to declare a health emergency in Philadelphia because of the violence. Both men want safe streets in Philadelphia and are calling on Black men to ‘Put It Down’ [the guns], which has been a main part of Mosque No. 12’s “Stop The Violence” rallies.
While violence is the Philadelphia MMM priority, there are other programs at work.
N’COBRA held a three-day Reparations town hall meeting at Temple University, under the guidance of Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Ron Johnson and Ari Morehizer. Min. Muhammad states that gentrification is also on the front burner.
“We have a brain-drain problem in the Black community, with 18 percent of those earning a Bachelor’s degree leaving the city,” according to Min. Muhammad, who added that the Local Organizing Committees in the cities are working hard to construct their Education Ministries.
Chester, Pa., under Rev. Rocky Brown and union activist Jim Harper, held a dinner last October that brought together 50 community leaders into what they call the Delaware Valley Coalition. They have embarked on several campaigns such as closing nuisance bars; enforcing laws to get drug paraphernalia out of stores; and confiscating apparel that is offensive for children.
Chester has a population of 36,854, comprised of Blacks (75 percent); Whites (17.9 percent); and Latinos (5.4 percent).
Pittsburgh has a very active LOC, according to Min. Muhammad, which is under the direction of co-chairs Rev. Cornell Jones and Jisiri Muhammad. They have established community patrols and the latest event was a Black Male Solidarity Day, when 200 men marched and recited the pledge two million Black men took at the Historic Millions Man March in 1995. The Ministry of Arts and Culture has also been very active with the First Annual Pittsburgh Hip Hop Awards and several smaller forums dealing with violence. According to a June 27 story on phillyBurbs.com, a report just released by the University of Pittsburgh’s Center on Race and Social Problems stated:
“Pittsburgh Blacks are among nation’s poorest, most segregated.” The report also mentions that Black men are “twice as likely as White men to be unemployed” (17 percent of Black men are unemployed; 8 percent for White males).
“Every negative you may think of affects the Black people of Pittsburgh,” MMM Minister of Information Paradise Gray told The Final Call.
Pittsburgh’s overall population is 334,563, with Blacks at 27 percent (91,000). The median income of Whites exceeds Blacks by more than $10,000, according to the report, and 70 percent of Black children live in a household headed by a single mother. Forty-five percent of Black males under the age of 17 live below the poverty level and 35 percent of Black women under 17 are in that very same condition.
With a population of Blacks constituting 56.43 percent, Ernest Mahr and Minister Robert Muhammad of Wilmington, Delaware are hard at work to push the MMM agenda.
Every Wednesday night is community awareness night that features lectures from various African scholars. Disaster relief seminars have also been held, which have been supported by a coalition of churches located in the Wilmington area.