BlackElectorate.com’s ‘Business and Building’
“Toward A Learned Community Connected To The Masses” – Interview with Brother Cedric Muhammad
Brother Cedric Muhammad, Publisher and Co-Founder of BlackElectorate.com is calling the website’s extensive online audience together for his website’s second annual get together in Washington, D.C. to discuss, plan, and take action steps on a variety of fronts. The format of the three-day affair – (October 26th to October 28th) is a mixture of ice-breaking, rapport building, fun, and very serious private discussion, dialogue and planning. Inspired by the Millions More Movement, the event is dedicated to launching holistic and sustainable Initiatives that highlight issues of concern to Blacks in America, the Western Hemisphere, and Africa. He recently discussed the motivation, format, and objectives with The Final Call Online.
Brother Cedric: Wa-Laikum-Salaam and thank you for this privilege. Writing for the greatest newspaper on earth has been a blessing, and this interview is a tremendous honor.
FCN: How did you come up with “Business and Building”?
Brother Cedric: One day, I was back home in New Jersey with a friend and Believer who is like my little Brother – Brother Stephen – who has known me for a long time. And he told me that he thought that I had gotten away from my roots as a concert and party promoter – from my old days in the music industry – and that there was an opportunity for me to pursue, in our work of trying to better connect and unite our people. He said that I should put together an event to bring together my most enthusiastic and interested BlackElectorate.com viewers. I thought it over, discussed it with my business partner and the one who first introduced me to Islam – Brother Charles (BlackElectorate.com’s Co-Founder) – and we decided to take the risk and see if we could use this event to move the website beyond its important informational and educational aspects and into a third phase of community action. After posting over 100,000 articles in 7 years, my writing over 800 myself, and our offering an online economics university, I think we have an informed foundation to stand on, but I want to marry that with the other elements of the human personality for a holistic experience and balanced interaction that results in follow-through on whatever is agreed upon.
FCN: Your event offers an unusual format, What is behind that?
Brother Cedric: Well, we know our people, a little bit of human nature, and I think understand what makes for building agreement and trust, which is the foundation of people working together. So we decided to place a great emphasis on social setting and rapport building. That is why we have a Mixer-Dinner and Private Bowling Party, as well as guest speakers. Last year we were honored to have a diverse line up of speakers – Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, Financial Expert Kelvin Boston, Conservative Commentator Armstrong Williams, International Economist Dr. Steve Hanke, and Entrepreneurial Economist Professor Reuven Brenner as speakers. I don’t think you can develop the warmth, familiarity, and camaraderie that is necessary for unity by simply preaching, teaching, and talking about issues. You have to get to know one another – as real people – in a comfortable atmosphere, and offer a variety of viewpoints and an environment for informal debate and formal dialogue. In that spirit, as long as it does not get too relaxed, I think you can unleash a lot of creative energy married with critical thought, and take care of some serious business. We thought this through in terms of a five-step process that I once heard Brother Jabril Muhammad lay out: Knowledge, Contact, Respect, Love, Unity. Some of those elements are inter-changeable but to have operational unity, in a collective, you need to move through those steps, stages, and phases. Intellectual agreement is one thing, but the unity of spirit is another. I don’t think you will find a community that has as much serious discussion, while enjoying each other’s company, and networking.
FCN: In what way has the Million Man March and Millions More Movement inspired you?
Brother Cedric: In so many, that it is hard to put into words. First, the Million Man March is the glimpse of heaven that gave me a picture of what is possible when we are united and in agreement around a beautiful, powerful and determined idea. The Millions More Movement, gave us a fuller manifestation of what the Million Man March planted the seed for – the potential of a worldwide movement that will never end. More specifically, a point that I think many of us underestimated, or maybe overlooked, was that the underlying motivation of the Millions More Movement was to connect the learned of our people with the masses and a programmatic thrust. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan makes this abundantly clear in the incredibly important book, Closing The Gap. And I believe it is Nathan Hare who argued that a vanguard that is disconnected from a collective is nothing more than an elite. We need a vanguard – not an elite group more tied to status and title than spirit and service – that can embody the best of W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington and the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey. We continue in that spirit and with that theme, which the Millions More Movement tapped into and exemplified.
FCN: How has the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan inspired what you are attempting to do?
Brother Cedric: I don’t see how it would be possible for me to aspire to do any of this, without his presence, mission, ministry and work. I could say the same for a lot of people who may not be as honest about his impact on our people, this world, and this generation. Only when he has departed from among us, will it be possible to see how his Spirit – which is from Allah and His Christ – has permeated culture, economics, and politics. He has touched everything. More specifically, while I mentioned the Million Man March and the Millions More Movement, earlier, I also want to say that it is the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s often over-looked Study Guides, “Self Improvement: The Basis For Community Development” which grew out of a September 21, 1986 speech in Phoenix, Arizona; that have greatly impacted and inspired my call for BlackElectorate.com’s “Business and Building” Community.
I recently had the privilege of meeting with the Minister on his Farm, where he offered me even greater insight into the direction and potential of our “Building and Business” event. It confirmed for me the timeliness of what we are attempting to do, and that we are indeed working in the Spirit of the Million Man March and Millions More Movement.
FCN: On your talk show, “The Cedric Muhammad and Black Coffee Program,” you frequently play an audio sample of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s Theology of Time lecture series where he is speaking to the professional class of our people. Is that a factor in ‘Business and Building?’
Brother Cedric: Yes! I love that sample, and it gets such a great reaction from our audience – especially those listening while on the job (laughter). His humility, warmth, and encouragement of them is so beautiful. It is an example that can teach all of us how to make ‘outreach.’. We have many of these kind of professionals in our ‘Business and Building’ group, as well as artists, activists, students, intellectuals, and entrepreneurs. It is quite a community, that I am honored to serve.
FCN: Please explain the Four Initiatives of ‘Business and Building”
Brother Cedric: Sure. We are attempting to bring together a community around the following areas: International Affairs, Political Action, Business and Investment, and Community Development. What I think has been lacking in our movement has been a broad enough view of the issues, factors and dynamics that affect our people all over the world. There is not too much that these Four Areas miss. By having a community organize around these issues, the thought in mind, is that we can change our activism and the way we think about culture, politics and economics, because we have to pay attention to a variety of factors, in order to be effective. Some of us think electoral politics is everything, which it is not. Others place great emphasis on international issues, and ignore what is happening in their own neighborhood. And many of us think finance and economics are the end all. We hope to show the importance of all of these areas, and how they compliment and kiss and embrace one another.
FCN: What are the issues you are mobilizing around in these areas?
Brother Cedric: Of the four areas, we have settled upon initiatives in two of them. For Business and Investment, we have launched a Black-owned bank initiative where we have endorsed a Black-owned bank, and are asking our community to open up various accounts to provide real support and make a symbolic statement. Our agenda is not one-way, however. We are forming a relationship with these banks that will result in financial literacy, wealth creation, and community development that benefit our individual members as well as the communities that these important institutions serve. We are trying to support and encourage our Black banks, returning them to their historically important position, while holding them accountable. We are putting our money where our mouths are, so to speak. Our adviser in this endeavor is Mr. Kelvin Boston of MoneywiseTV (http://www.moneywise.tv/), and author of the book, “Who’s Afraid To Be A Millionaire?,” (http://www.moneywise.tv/millionaire_book.html) which is our official financial resource for the Initiative.
In the area of International Affairs, we are launching a ‘United States of Africa-Diaspora Advocacy Group,’ dedicated to raising awareness in Black America and the Western Hemisphere, of the African Union’s effort to bring Africa together in a political and economic union, and to mobilize ‘calls to action,’ analysis, and constructive ideas to the effort. Again, though, our role is to not offer uncritical support. We want to encourage the United States of Africa to develop in the best interests of the African people and her Diaspora, which unfortunately has been left out of much of the discussion. Randall Robinson (http://randallrobinson.com/) has graciously agreed to serve as our adviser in this effort, which will ensure that the Caribbean will also be front-and-center in what we aspire to do in connecting the sons and daughters of Africa.
We have the remaining work of determining what our issue will be in the area of Political Action. But we are excited that Cynthia McKinney has already agreed to serve as our adviser. She’s ready to go, and is actually waiting on us! And we also have the critically important area of Community Development in which to still launch an Initiative. I have in mind that we might be doing something around job training and entrepreneurial development for Unemployed Youth, the Homeless, the Formerly Incarcerated, and the Members of ‘gangs’ or street organizations. We are very excited to announce that we have formed an alliance with Saving Our Selves (SOS), the powerful gang intervention and prevention organization in Newark, New Jersey founded by Bloods and Crips, and they will be attending our event for the entire Weekend to build and plan with us.
FCN: It is clear that you are looking to attract and work with a wide cross-section of our people. Do you have any concerns about making too broad of an appeal?
Brother Cedric: Not at all. I believe in ‘Black Universalism,’ so to speak, which grows out of my reading of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s statement to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, many years ago that Black was not national, but universal. And I reflect over what I have learned of a letter written by Master Fard Muhammad to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, many years ago, wherein he told him that people were strange, like schools of fish, and that if He (the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) did not learn their languages, he would not be as successful in teaching them as He (Master Fard Muhammad) desired. That has stayed with me, throughout my travels and work in the music industry, politics, business, radio and publishing. I have strived to be like a bee, so to speak, learning of various religions, arts, political ideologies, and sciences, – comparing and contrasting them, cross-pollenating, and attempting to speak them. I have a long way to go to approach the example of someone like Minister Farrakhan who is the best at exemplifying what Master Fard Muhammad and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad embody in terms of speaking the language of the people, but we are dedicated to being successful in this regard. That is one of the reasons why we use humor and music on my show so much. People like to have all of their senses touched. So we go there.
Some people are made uncomfortable by universal expression that challenges their particular language, ideology, religious dogma, or station in life, but we have been blessed by Allah (God) with a positive reaction when we reach out and use examples, illustrations, and expressions from the worldview of the people we are trying to reach. An example is a recent appeal I wrote entitled, “Applying Mathematical Theology, Street Knowledge, Spirituality, Principles, Rational Thought, The Scriptures, and The Wisdom of the Ages to the Problems of Original People in The Western Hemisphere and All Over The World – An Invitation to Atheists, Agnostics, Hebrews, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Gods and Earths, Unitarian Universalists, Jehovah Witnesses, Baha’is, Buddhists, Rastafarians, Nuwabians, Freethinkers, Humanists, Vodouisants, Santeros, Practitioners and Experiencers of African Traditional Religions and Spirituality, Experiencers and Practitioners of Indigenous Spirituality and Traditions, Scientologists, Spiritual Nomads, Truth-Seekers, and Those Of Us Who Are Well, Just…‘Here’ available at: http://www.blackelectorate.com/articles.asp?ID=1996
FCN: What is your message to the Members of the Nation of Islam and the Millions More Movement?
Brother Cedric: Of course I give my deepest love and the greetings to all of the Believers who may read this, and I deeply desire to see them at our event. I just want us all – including myself – to respond better to what the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan asked us to do in his September 11, 2006 letter last year which was to show him that we could prove that the Nation is more than the physical presence of any individual, and that it will live long after he and we have gone, because it is rooted in an Idea that comes directly from Allah (God) Himself. He asked us to show that we were ready to move beyond personality to live and function on the principles that make personalities attractive. We can’t do that if we don’t support and work with one another, sharing his yolk and burden, which the Honorable Elijah Muhammad shared with him.
To the Millions More Movement, my thought is to place emphasis on the fact that perhaps we, again, are not understanding what our collective role is by Minister Farrakhan. It took over 400 Local Organizing Committees (LOCs) to plan and make the Million Man March a success, and hundreds of similar groupings to do the same with the Millions More Movement. It is not the Minister’s job to come to our local neighborhoods and organize us, or to carry the load of ‘follow-through’ on numerous national and international issues that he may call us to action on, highlight, comment on, or on which he may provide guidance and wisdom. We have to maintain the operational unity that executed these two wonderful events and marches, in order to translate them into a movement, cultural revolution, political power, economic development, and institution building. I am always overjoyed to learn of the efforts, reported in The Final Call, of those still carrying out the work of the Movement, and working to establish the Ministries the Minister outlined, which resonate with virtually all of our people.
All of our people, I have found, can see or find themselves and their purpose in life in these Ministries. They find a place for their talents, skills and gifts, which they are absolutely tired of giving to others. As I think this over, I am reminded of the September 17, 1960 article, “What Must Be Done With The Negro?” wherein the Honorable Elijah Muhammad says that Blacks were a people who give their brainpower, skills, talent, labor and wealth to another civilization and until Blacks stopped doing this – as well as increasing land ownership – they would not move beyond freed slave and dependent status, toward independence and self sufficiency. The question can be posed today as it was decades ago – how much of the wealth, brainpower, skills, talent and labor of Black people is being deployed on behalf of Black communities, and how much for communities and individuals other than themselves?
The BlackElectorate.com “Business and Building” Weekend and Movement is here to serve the Nation and the Millions More Movement in any way we can. And we want to link up with the like-minded and those with a shared spirit, and heart of love for our people. We love our people, the poor and oppressed, and all people striving to establish righteous principles. And I will personally give my life and all that I have in service to our rise, and to see us free.
Anyone interested in attending our event and supporting our movement can register at: http://www.blackelectorate.com/mixer.asp
read our itinerary:
or become a sponsor at:
FCN: Thank You Brother.
Brother Cedric: I beg your pardon, thank you! Let me get back to writing my next Final Call article (laughter).