Mosque Maryam, National Headquarters of the Nation of Islam.

It has been 40 years since the Kerner Commission (pdf), empaneled by President Johnson following the urban rebellions and riots in Newark and Detroit, issued its famous warning: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white–separate and unequal. … Discrimination and segregation have long permeated much of American life; they now threaten the future of every American.”

At the dawn of the 21st century, Americans still lead highly segregated lives based on where we live, go to school and worship. We are separated by the things we watch on television. We are generally separated along racial lines when it comes to high profile and racially charged cases, like the O.J. Simpson murder trial, and when it comes to charges of police brutality. There is an economic divide, with Blacks earning less than Whites, on average, for the same jobs. There is a health divide, with the health status of Blacks lagging behind Whites–even when Blacks have similar incomes to Whites and health insurance. There is a penalty Blacks pay just for being Black, spending more for goods and services, whether the penalty is assessed in outrageous mark-ups at ghetto corner stores or in denial of home mortgage loans by banks and being steered to high interest loans by mortgage brokers. There is a justice divide with harsher sentences meted out to Blacks for crimes and fewer chances for rehabilitation.

We live in separate and often hostile realities. By the nature of our 400 year history, how can we see things the same way?


In particular, how can we see an extraordinary Black man and an extraordinary movement in the same way? The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam are well known, respected and loved by the Black community and the oppressed. And that love extends from far beyond the fact that the Nation has a track record for reforming those destroyed by and left at the bottom of American society.

The Black Muslims in America are generally seen as decent, hardworking, honest “brothers and sisters” dedicated to serving a community and people that White America has shown she does not care about and has little use for. Muslims are known for speaking straight words to those who enjoy power and influence and who force Black leaders, politicians, businessmen, activists, academics and intellectuals to bow at the altar of White Power and White Supremacy.

The Nation of Islam has inspired Black Americans to be proud of themselves and their heritage and inspired Black organizations and leadership to challenge injustice. There would have been no Alex Haley and no “Roots,” without the Nation of Islam and Minister Malcolm X. There would likely have been no Black Panther Party without Min. Malcolm’s words from the Hon. Elijah Muhammad that touched Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton. There would certainly have been no Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Imam W.D. Mohammed, Louis Farrakhan or other mighty Nation of Islam ministers without the Hon. Elijah Muhammad as their teacher.

The teachings of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and his attacks on White Supremacy-laden Christianity as taught by our slave former slave masters and their children spurred many Black theologians to research and document the Black presence in the Bible and re-teach theology from the perspective of the Original People, tracing its origins back to ancient Egyptian writings and connecting religion to the struggle for liberation.

While the Black middle class may utter its disdain for mistreatment at the hands of Whites behind closed doors and stew in a seething rage, Min. Farrakhan has spoken boldly and honestly about the lack of opportunity and the humiliation many Black professionals still endure. He has spoken critically to Black men about the need to care for their children. He has spoken directly to Black youth in so-called gangs about the need to stop the violence and fratricide on city streets. He has challenged hip hop artists to clean up lyrics that degrade themselves and their people. He has urged Black women to show decency and respect for themselves and to command respect from their men. He has appealed to religious leaders, across lines of faith and denomination, to carry their beliefs into practice by going to serve the least in society, and to look beyond religious dogma to essential principles of truth found in all faiths to change America for the better.

The Minister has been a faithful warner to America about the divine judgment she faces for evil done to the children of her once slaves, her moral failures and her exploitation of people around the globe.

As American companies have exported jobs overseas, the Minister has sought international friendships and partnerships that could be used to rebuild neighborhoods suffering from Third World conditions in the richest nation on earth.

The Minister has spoken to nearly every major Black organization in America and has been invited to colleges and universities by Black students across the country. He has been lauded and feted, given awards, cheered and was prayed for by people across religious, racial, ethnic, philosophical, and political lines at the time of his most serious health crisis.

He has offered to dialogue with detractors and held private meetings to find a way to resolve differences, consented to probing media interviews and asked to be brought before Congress to answer questions about where he stands and what he believes.

Yet White America and the media continue to try to paint a divinely-guided man and a peacemaker as a hater and divisive figure in society. But can an oppressor and the oppressed see things the same way? Can a slave master and a slave see a liberator in the same way? Did the British Crown see Nathan Hale, who uttered “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country,” the same way as freedom-seeking American colonists? Obviously not, the British hanged Hale as a spy and a traitor.

Min. Farrakhan is a good man and Black America, many in White America and the world knows it. The shame is that many are still afraid to speak the truth. They fear censure of the oppressor and the loss of nearness to the slave master. Blacks understand that to curry favor with Whites, the desires of Whites must be appeased. Min. Farrakhan’s refusal to acquiesce to lies and pressure to reject truth is a major reason he is loved among the oppressed and those who believe in freedom, justice and equality. He is a man of strength and integrity. He is an example of what a free Black man looks like.