(FinalCall.com) – Christian and Muslim unity proved to be a winning combination as two men representing spiritually-based political leadership resoundingly defeated their opponents.
Marcus Muhammad, the 34-year-old study group coordinator for the Nation of Islam in Benton Harbor, Mich., and Rev. Duane Seats II, the 33-year-old pastor of Abundant Life Church, received the two highest vote totals among those running to fill two commissioner at large posts in the city.
“I am deeply humbled as well as excited to have the august opportunity and privilege to serve the citizens of Benton Harbor as an elected official,” Mr. Muhammad told The Final Call on Nov. 3 after voting polls had closed and results were announced. Mr. Muhammad had the highest vote total of any of the candidates.
“I am overwhelmed,” said Rev. Seats, adding that Muslim and Christian unity was the key to their success. “Marcus and I could not do it alone, it was God, and if God be for you, he’s more than the whole world against you. God unifies his people.”
During the campaign, some advised the men to break up their partnership, but they refused, Rev. Seats said. Support came from many different areas, with lifelong Benton Harbor resident and current mayor Wilce Cooke endorsing Mr. Muhammad and Mr. Seats a little over a week before the election. This was the first such endorsement in the mayor’s political career.
Both men thanked the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan for his guidance, and Michigan Nation of Islam representative Rasul H. Muhammad and area Muslims for their willingness to assist in addressing issues in the economically challenged town.
According to Census statistics, Benton Harbor is 92 percent Black with a median annual average income of $17,471. Its neighboring “twin city” St. Joseph’s is 90 percent White with a median annual average income of $37,032. The disparity is something Mr. Muhammad and Mr. Seats hope to work with local activists to overcome.
While all of the candidates, even the defeated candidates, ran upstanding campaigns, Mr. Muhammad said the local media, specifically the Herald Palladium newspaper has been on a “maligning spree” in reporting about the management of Benton Harbor and condition of city finances. The newspaper has given a prominent voice to critics calling on Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) to take the city into receivership and bring in a team to run the city’s affairs–a move Mr. Muhammad says would completely usurp the local government.
As representatives of the people, Mr. Muhammad and Rev. Seats do not intend to let that happen. “It’s time to let the people rise up and take over the (Benton Harbor) government and Rev. Seats and I represent them,” he said.
Muslim-Christian unity wins primary election (FCN, 08-15-2009)