BET’s Historic Presidential Inauguration Interview with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

[FinalCall.com – Editor’s note: The following are excerpts of a BET interview with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan on December 18, 2008, which was scheduled to be aired during BET’s coverage of the historic presidential inauguration of Mr. Barack H. Obama on January 20, 2009. Click here to view the webcast and order the CD/DVD.]

Jeff Johnson (JJ): When this excellent Black man was elected on that excellent night, where were you?


The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan (HMLF): I was in front of my television, with my wife and some of my children, with tears streaming down our faces. And when I saw my brother come out on that stage with his wife and his children; and I watched his demeanor, because now he had fought for this. Now he has it.


JJ: In the very beginning of this process when Barack Obama announced his candidacy, did you ever believe that we would be at this place and time celebrating the soon-to-be inauguration of the first African American president?

HMLF: No, I didn’t believe it, but I’m happy for it. This young man seems to be driven by a force that’s bigger than politics.

Watching him ascend four years ago, he spoke at a Democratic convention, and electrified the convention and the country. Four years later, he’s the president-elect of the United States of America.

This is a meteoric rise. It’s something that I thought I would never live to see.


JJ: You typically–and correct me if I’m wrong–don’t normally endorse candidates. I haven’t typically seen you endorse candidates, but you came out and endorsed Senator–

HMLF: No, I never did endorse him.

JJ: No?

HMLF: No. I was very careful, because I knew that if I endorsed him, that would create a problem for him.

So at Saviours’ Day last year, I talked about him–but, in very beautiful and glowing terms, stopping short of endorsing him. And unfortunately, or fortunately, however we look at it, the media said I “endorsed” him, so he renounced my so-called endorsement and support. But that didn’t stop me from supporting him.

JJ: No, it didn’t.


JJ: Can you talk a little bit about the wisdom that you felt was necessary at that time, in your response not only to the Nation of Islam, but to the United States, so that you couldn’t be further used by the media to create greater division between Senator Obama and his people.

HMLF: Barack is the bigger picture. I have never seen any Black man in our history attract our people; give them hope in the way that Barack has done.

If you love your people, and you want to see your people rise, and you see someone who is doing that for your people, then you subordinate your personal pain to the greater mission, which was Brother ascending to the top of the mountain.


JJ: The first time I got emotional about this campaign was the night of the DNC when Michelle spoke. And after Michelle spoke, those babies came up on stage. And after the babies came up on stage, then Obama comes via satellite. And to me there was this message that “Even though my wife and my babies are on stage, I need to make sure I’m with them.”

And there was this picture of the “Black family,” that Americans–some Black Americans, some White Americans; Asian Americans, Latino Americans–had never seen before in real life.

What is the real potential of a Barack in the White House? Will we really be able to quantify how that will impact men and women in communities that were lacking hope?

HMLF: A loving husband, a loving wife; a loving father, a loving mother, and two very beautiful children: That gave us as a people, with broken families, some hope that we, too, can produce a family like that.

When you see gang bangers, young teenage boys that never thought they might live to see 20 or 21, stand in line four and five hours to vote for him; when I see the impact that he has had on children–little Black children who no longer have to feel “I’ve got to be a NBA basketball player; NFL football player to escape the ghetto, or escape the conditions under which I have grown; but now I can aspire to be a world leader”–that’s a genie that you can never put back in the bottle.

So our job, it seems to me, in backing him, is to be more earnest, more dedicated, more zealous in working in our communities to build our people.


JJ: Is there any truth to the fact that an Obama election means that America is becoming less racist?

HMLF: Yes. The nitty-gritty is probably the same, but America is changing. Again, that’s puts more burden on us.

Barack represents Black excellence. Michelle Obama represents Black excellence. As a family, they represent Black excellence. It’s very hard for you to accentuate White Supremacy in the face of Black Excellence.

Are we capable of becoming excellent? Absolutely. All we need is a level playing field, and if we are cream, we will rise to the top. And once we begin to do this and demonstrate this excellence that we have the capacity to do, and the potential to do, then race will begin to diminish, diminish, diminish, and we really might be living, then, in a post-racial America.

View this interview on the web @ http://www.finalcallmedia.com/media/3/BET_Interview/