[Editor’s note: This arcticle was oringinally posted March 10, 2000 as part of a special Final Call Newspaper, 70 year commemorative of The Nation of Islam in North America.]
(FinalCall.com) – From humble beginnings in the basement of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s south Chicago home, The Final Call newspaper has emerged as America’s most widely circulated Black-owned-and-operated newspaper that also enjoys a healthy international distribution.
Founded and personally financed by Min. Farrakhan in 1979, the paper was launched on the faith and power of the message of his teacher, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
The entire first edition of the paper, except for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s editorial and presentation of “The Muslim Program”, was written by Min. Farrakhan. Members of his family, particularly his daughter Donna, and others, including Chuck Green and Melala Archibald, designed the layout, did the typesetting and copy editing and assisted in the research.
The emergence of The Final Call just two years into Min. Farrakhan’s rebuilding effort of the Nation of Islam sent a message to the community and the world about his serious dedication to see the message of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad rebirthed.
The paper, dedicated to the resurrection of the Black man and woman of America and the world, emerged with its first headline, “The Ultimate Challenge: The Survival of the Black Nation.”
“In 1972, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad spoke with Minister Louis Farrakhan and said, ‘Brother, I don’t like to talk about this because it gives me great pain, but the Nation is going to take a dive for the second time,’ ” The Final Call stated in a page 3 editorial.
“When the Messenger saw the pain in Minister Farrakhan’s face, he comforted him by saying, ‘But don’t worry, brother. It will be rebuilt, and it will never fall again.’ It was from time to time that he kept saying to Minister Farrakhan, ‘Go exactly as you see me go and do exactly as you see me do. Now, Brother, you can preach this word as strongly as you see me preach it. But, you must go according to the way I go … meaning that you must practice righteousness or they (the enemy) will piece you in two.’
“In rebuilding the Nation of Islam, it is incumbent upon us to retrace the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s steps,” the paper noted. “The first newspaper that the Messenger produced was in 1934 after His Teacher Master Fard Muhammad had left Him with the Mission. The name of that paper was The Final Call To Islam.
“One day, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said to the Minister, ‘Brother, if there were any sign or symbol that I would choose to represent my work it would be the trumpet … for the trumpet is the sign of the resurrection of the dead,’ ” the paper continued.
“So, as He began, we begin! THE FINAL CALL is a monthly message published by people dedicated to the resurrection of the Black man and woman of America and the world …”
With the publication of the fourth edition, the paper, edited by Godfrey X Patterson, and a graduate student of theology at Howard University, began to include writers other than members of the Nation of Islam, among them being Haki Madhubuti, the distinguished writer and educator, and Lu Palmer, the legendary Black journalist.
Black women, a central component of the Minister Farrakhan’s rebuilding effort, were represented by Roberta Muhammad’s contribution, “The Resurrection.”
By 1981, a special Saviour’s Day edition was published carrying the headline, “The Rebirth of a Nation,” and subtitled, “A Saviour is Born for the Black Man and Woman of America.” This historic paper featured Minister Farrakhan’s edited remarks from the Nation of Islam’s first Saviour’s Day address of the soâ€‘called “Second Resurrection.”
As Volume two emerged, the editorial mantle of leadership passed from Minister Godfrey X Patterson to Askia Muhammad, who was the Hon. Elijah Muhammad’s first Muslim editor of the legendary Muhammad Speaks newspaper.
By 1982, The Final Call emerged from its basement office in the home of Minister Farrakhan to its new home on West 79th Street in Chicago. Christened “The Final Call Administration Building,” Minister Farrakhan opened headquarters on Sept. 12, 1982.
“Our home,” Bro. Askia wrote at the time, “is a beautiful place, worthy of being declared as a witness of our faith in Messenger Muhammad’s word alone (without His money, without His direct intercession in our behalf, without His physical presence among us). After 60 long/short months we have our first home in His Name …”.
The Abdul Wali Muhammad Years
Islam, in the early 1980s, began to spread like “wild fire.” Numerous laborers of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad began to join on to Min. Farrakhan’s rebuilding effort. One of the major ministers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, John Shabazz, now known as Min. Abdul Allah Muhammad, returned to the Nation of Islam in Atlanta and quickly rose in the ranks to become southern regional representative and later by 1983, he assumed the reigns of editor-in-chief of The Final Call.
Given Min. Abdul Allah’s formal education in journalism from the historic Howard University, he brought a new level of professionalism to The Final Call and kept the publication steady for several years under his leadership. Assisting Min. Abdul Allah was Min. Abdul Wali Muhammad (1954-1991), who had just arrived at the Nation of Islam’s Chicago headquarters in 1982.
Minister Abdul Wali Muhammad assumed the post of editor-in-chief in 1984 and introduced a higher level of technology to The Final Call, particularly utilizing personal computers to automate every department, and utilizing state-of-the-art equipment in the production department.
Because Min. Farrakhan’s media outreach extended chiefly through the newspaper, Bro. Wali made The Final Call the tie that bound Black America together. Indeed, circulation greatly increased during his years at the helm. The Final Call‘s coverage of Min. Farrakhan–who was then a major media topic and would become even more so–was crucial in bringing clarity and truth to the distortions in the mainstream media about his message for years to come.
The year 1991 ended with the passing of editor-in-chief Minister Abdul Wali Muhammad, at the age of 37 on Dec. 26, 1991. “The Nation mourns the passing of one of its brightest stars, Minister Abdul Wali Muhammad,” Minister Farrakhan said. “His brilliant mind reflected in his speech and in his pen will be greatly missed among us. I personally have lost a brother, a companion, a friend and a son in the most difficult of all endeavors, the transformation of the lives of our people here and throughout the world. I thank Allah (God) for the privilege and honor of having known him. His memory shall be with me to my dying day and his work shall endure in the history of the Nation of Islam.”
Indeed, The Final Call‘s Abdul Wali Muhammad years were extraordinary to say the least. The Nation of Islam’s rapid rebuilding and popularity was authoritatively captured in the pages of The Final Call.
Rise, You Mighty Nation, Rise!
Under the guidance of Min. Farrakhan, Bro. Wali’s assistant, James G. Muhammad, would carry the journalistic torch of The Final Call to new heights as he assumed the post of editor-in-chief in January 1992.
Keeping in tune with Bro. Wali’s desire to stay on the cutting edge of technology, Bro. James and his staff have expanded use of computer-based technology, able to produce every facet of the paper in-house, except the actual printing of the paper, which will be a reality in the near future.
On April 16, 1996, The Final Call announced, the newspaper began its weekly publication schedule. “Following the legacy of the Muhammad Speaks newspaper, published by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, we plan to maintain and, in fact, increase our standard of excellence in bringing information to the Black community.”
With such a strong foundation to stand on, Bro. James, in an exclusive interview, disclosed the future of the paper. “Of course, growth, growth, growth! We want our paper to be more subscription based. We want to purchase our own printing press and expand on our Internet web site and other things that we can do over the Internet. We want to build up our staff to make it first-class and to add the additional staff that’s needed in certain cities as well as United Nations and establish bureaus in other international hubs. Those are our immediate goals.
“But most of all I thank the Honorable Minister Farrakhan for his unselfish dedication to the rise and spiritual upliftment of our people. He’s a principled man of character that I try to pattern my life after. It is a great honor and responsibility to be the editor of the best and boldest Black newspaper on earth,” he said.