By NOI Prison Ministry

Regional Prison Reform Ministry gets training offers good example at New Opportunities Workshops

PHILADELPHIA – The Nation of Islam’s Delaware Valley Regional Prison Reform Ministry (NOI-DVRPRM) advocates on behalf of the incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, and their families by acquiring information on marketable skills that can help stabilize the formerly incarcerated for a successful reintegration back into the community. Let us reflect on prophetic words of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad from the Message to the Black Man (p. 39): “I am for the acquiring of knowledge or the accumulating of knowledge–as we now call it; education. First, my people must be taught the knowledge of self. Then and only then will they be able to understand others and that which surrounds them. Anyone who does not have knowledge of self is considered a victim of either amnesia or unconsciousness and is not very competent.” It is in this spirit that NOI-DVRPRM Community Outreach is spreading the message of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan pertaining to the destructive consequences of the Prison Industrial Complex to the families of the incarcerated and the formerly incarcerated.

The NOI-DVRPRM members, Brothers Gregory X Moore, Jessel X Alexander, George X Kirby (Saleem Shabazz), Sisters Catherine Muhammad and Rita Muhammad, participated in the New Opportunities Workshops (NOW) job readiness training seminar sponsored by Temple University. This worthy program is offered to the residents of the North Philly section of Philadelphia and consists of an 8-week training experience designed to provide participants with expert information on job readiness, and help them become more competitive in the job market. The last week of the program, participants have an opportunity to meet with area hiring managers to present their accomplishments and experience to prospective employers.


The NOW training seminar was initially brought to the attention of the NOI-DVRPRM by Brother Alfred X Flowers of the NOI-DVRPRM, who participated in the first NOW class in November 2012. According to Brother Alfred X, “The NOW job readiness training class provided me with an opportunity to effectively implement the teachings of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan that we must seek academic opportunity and community support which in turn inspires our spiritual growth. The employment preparation skills that I learned from my NOW participation, I’ve transferred to my present employment working with the disadvantaged population. This was a great tradeoff–my time for knowledge.”

As a result of our participation, the NOI-DVRPRM formed a proactive connection with NOW director Michael Robinson, M.S., and Director-Community Outreach and Hiring for Temple University–Human Resources. He was extremely impressed with our demeanor and said, “The five members of the Prison Reform Ministry were exemplary participants in our NOW professional development training! Their deportment, image, and in-class discussions and participation always reflected a high level of professionalism and engagement. I am grateful for their participation in the class.”

The NOI-DVRPRM thanks Mr. Robinson for accepting us as participants in the NOW program, and we also would like to acknowledge Temple University’s faculty for its steadfast stance in facilitating progress for the formerly incarcerated with viable reentry essentials–employment and education.

Brother Gregory X expressed that he was “very thankful to Mr. Robinson and the Temple University faculty for giving me a chance, after serving 33 years, to demonstrate my reform and how the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan changed my life completely.”   Here are some other thoughts from our hardworking NOI Delaware Valley Prison Reform Ministry staff: “I’m thankful to have been able to be a part of the NOW workshops. I am currently a certified nursing assistant and my goal is to utilize the skills learned to seek employment at Temple Hospital so that I can take advantage of the free education offered to Temple employees. Ultimately, I want to help our people in need of medical attention in our own Nation of Islam Medical Center. This experience corresponds with the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad to ‘Get an Education That Benefits Self,’ ” said Sister Catherine Muhammad.

NOI-DVRPRM member, Sister Rita Muhammad said, “The Temple University NOW program was a humbling experience, and it helped enhance my job readiness skills. As a student of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, it is with their guidance that enabled me to benefit from the workshop. It has increased my motivation to help and share employment education with others.”

“The NOW program,” said Brother Jessel X, “is definitely beneficial for the individual whose goals are to enhance and develop their people skills related to career development. During the training, I learned the fundamentals of public speaking, and witnessed the tenacity of classmates networking and selling themselves in a professional employment market. To work within a predominantly unfamiliar group of talented classmates was beautiful. What I enjoyed most of all was the bonding and also working in another environment with my NOI-DVRPRM members.”

Brother Saleem Shabazz noted that “the NOW program had a profound effect on my life. This experience allowed me to see why we, as a people, must be trained to overcome whatever problems we face. Working with Mr. Robinson in the workshop also is linked to the work we do in the Prison Reform Ministry, which is helping others to better themselves in life; as a result, whatever we are faced with we can overcome. The NOI Student National Prison Reform Minister Abdullah Muhammad informed us that we must make and maintain contact with the outside world.”

Mr. Robinson expressed to Brother Alfred X that he would consider it an honor to develop a partnership with the NOI-DVRPRM in the future. Mr. Robinson further acknowledged,  “As we examined and discussed Harvard Business Review case studies, practiced public speaking skills, reviewed employer/management expectations for workforce success, studied conflict resolution, practiced mock interviews and covered other professional topics–the members of the Prison Reform Ministry provided great insights and thoughtful input that inspired and motivated others in the class to become equally active and successful participants during the 8 weeks of training.   I am very proud of their class success and was greatly inspired by their enthusiasm for higher learning.”

The NOI-DVRPRM looks forward to introducing its new members to the NOW program and Mr. Robinson’s professional development initiative. We will utilize this partnership as part of our coalition building to “give birth to a new paradigm for socioeconomic and political transformation” as exclaimed by Minister Farrakhan.

The members of the NOI-DVRPRM would like to thank NOI Student National Prison Reform Minister Abdullah Muhammad for his support and instructions to expand our community outreach.