By Toure Muhammad Contributing Writer

Block Party sponsored by Min. Farrakhan brings day of peace to Chicago community

CHICAGO ( – Google the “top 25 most dangerous neighborhoods in America” and not one, but two roughly square mile areas that sit inside the borders of the city’s Auburn Gresham community will pop up

One roughly square mile area, bordered on W. 79th Street by the Salaam Restaurant Complex, Respect for Life Bookstore and The Final Call Administration Building, ranks as the fourth most dangerous neighborhood in America. According to crime statistics, a resident has a 1 in 9 chance of being a victim of a violent crime within a year.

(top) Residents of the Auburn Gresham-Englewood at event.

But   on Aug. 10, thanks to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, this often troubled community experienced some peace, love, unity and happiness–and residents shared a bit of pride.

In the parking lot of Salaam Restaurant Complex, for five hours, Minister Farrakhan fed everyone–free of charge. Food and beverages were served by Salaam restaurant staffers, Muhammad University of Islam students, summer youth workers, and Nation of Islam volunteers. They moved about, with smiles on their faces, helping to make the event a success. Guests dined inside the air-conditioned restaurant and outside in the Salaam parking lot as food was served.

“This is a beautiful event and I am glad to see us here together. I am Christian, but I am enjoying fellowshipping with Muslims today,” said one roughly 55-year-old man.

The event marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan, which includes fasting, no eating or drinking during daylight hours for 30 days. Emphasis is also placed on being charitable to others, especially the less fortunate such as those living in the Auburn Gresham community, hard hit by poverty, violence, and economic exploitation.

“The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan as we know is a very generous, charitable and giving person. One objective of fasting is to be sensitive to the people on our planet who are poor and hungry. The Minister wanted to feed this community,” explained Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad, national assistant to Minister Farrakhan.

Smiles were readily offered all day.

The Block Party, emceed by Student Ministers Amin Muhammad, Jeffrey Muhammad and Fontaine Muhammad, included live performances from the two original members of Funkadelic, as well as various Chicago area hip hop and spoken word artists, including AK47, DA Smart, Hip Hop Detoxx, Blaq Ice, YourGodBrother, street drummers, singers, elected officials, and several Nation of Islam student ministers and officials. Mother Khadijah Farrakhan, first lady of the Nation of Islam, came out to support the event. Chicago Bulls basketball star Derrick Rose donated some sneakers that were also given away. There was no disorder, no police and no strife–there was peace.

“It’s always a blessing for us to get together on one accord with not a lot of heaviness, just a moment away from what we are all dealing with in the community to say, despite it all, yet we live. I am glad to be here to witness it all,” said Shanara The MouthPeace, a spoken word artist and singer.

“The food is delicious and I am just happy to be here today to experience this event with all these young people here enjoying themselves,” said one salt-and-pepper haired sister with a plate of food in her hand and a big smile. Despite the violence, the Auburn Gresham community is full of hardworking families, young people and retired veterans.

“This is an opportunity for them to get to know us and for us to get to know them. This is a bridge building event that we hope continues after this is over,” said Leonard Farrakhan Muhammad, of the executive council of the Nation of Islam and Salaam restaurant manager.

“Today becomes just one more witness to what the Nation always does which is outreach to the community, whether it’s bringing good news, safety or whether it’s feeding people like today. What the Minister has always been about is blessing, loving and embracing the community. In my mind, days like this shows the best of the Nation to the community and it’s such a blessing because with us on Racine (Ave.) and the Nation here on Emerald (Street) what we can do in the community could be a model for the entire country,” said Father Michael Pfleger, pastor of the St. Sabina Community Church that sits less than a mile from Salaam Restaurant. Father Pfleger is known nationwide for his continued efforts for outreach, programs, youth advocacy and mentorship.

“We need to support Salaam Restaurant. This is a jewel in our community. It’s only us that can lift our community up,” added 17th Ward City Council Member Latasha Thomas, who was instrumental in helping the Nation of Islam reopen Salaam Restaurant.

“I think that what we are trying to achieve here is that kids don’t necessarily have to be on the front page for something bad. There is something good that is being produced in my neighborhood,” said Lorraine Condanson, who came out to enjoy the day with her granddaughter Maliya Riddle, 9, who was a princess in the city’s renowned Bud Billiken Day back to school parade the same day.

“I want people to come to my neighborhood and see how beautiful it is. How we have the Islamic restaurant and I want them to know we have exciting things and we do produce good from the hood,” said the proud area resident.

Toure Muhammad is also publisher of Bean Soup Times, read more at