-Contributing Editor-

CHICAGO–Buy Black was the theme of the Dec. 10 all-you-can-eat buffet gathering of the Elite 50-plus squad in Chicago, and it will be the theme for months to come, organizers said.

Patrons filed into the main ballroom of the Salaam Restaurant for the once-a-month event sponsored by the group, featuring 20 vendors as Bro. Demetrius 3X, “a.k.a” D.J. Mecca, rocked the music and Sister Jantrez Muhammad quenched thirsts with homemade, non-alcoholic exotic drinks.

“We hear and we obey,” said Bro. Khalil Muhammad, first lieutenant who was put over the Elite 50 squad by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in the late 1990s. “The Minister has said ‘Up with Jesus, Down with Santa.’ He has instructed the Black community to boycott Christmas spending, but whatever spending we must do, then do it with a Black-owned business.

Sis. Safiyyah Muhammad, an author, with her children’s book, “When Jaguars Roar.”

“We’ve assembled Black businesses here. We’re in a Black-owned restaurant. The goal is to circulate our dollars in our own community,” he said.

Vendors offered a range of products and services, from books to custom designed hats to jewelry, purses and accessories for women to faux floral designs and even heating and air conditioning and plumbing services.

The aroma of baked chicken, fish, eggplant parmesan, potatoes and other menu items filled the ballroom. But the tasty bean soup was the first order of business for the hungry participants.

“I try to make it a point to attend the Elite 50-plus buffet whenever possible,” said Assistant Supreme Captain Anthony Muhammad, who attended with his wife, Sis. Judith. “The food is always great and the atmosphere is always exciting. It’s an honor being around men and women who have already traveled the roads we’re traveling and can give us insight and encouragement from their experiences.”

The “Buy Black” message was an obvious winner with the vendors.

“The challenge has always been to convince our people to circulate our dollars by buying Black,” said Angie Harris, owner of Angie’s Naturals, which offers fragrances and other beauty products. “Put your money in Black banks. Get your mortgage from a Black bank. Patronize Black businesses and business owners must put money back into your business.”

Bro. Barney Muhammad (left) stands next to Bro. Khalil Muhammad and winners of door prizes. Photos: James G. Muhammad

Jeff Mimms is an entrepreneur who attended the Oct. 10 “Justice Or Else!” 20th  anniversary celebration of the Million Man March. He sat behind a table filled with hats for men and women.

“I love wearing hats myself. There is truth in the saying that if you love what you do then you don’t work a day in your life. What I do is not work, it’s what I love doing,” he said.

Mr. Mimms’ rules for doing business is professionalism, inventory and marketing. Good customer service is what keeps people coming back, he said.

Keyy Lang connected with the “Down with Santa, Up with Jesus” mantra of the boycott Christmas spending campaign.

“I grew up in a house where Christmas was big,” she said, “but I don’t want my children to think that’s the way it should be. I give them [gifts] all year round. Now I’m teaching them that it was all about Jesus Christ in the first place.”

“We’re asking our people not to spend foolishly in this season,” Bro. Barney Muhammad told  The Final Call  as he called out winners to free door prizes that everyone in attendance had an opportunity to win. “This is a first step that will continue for months to come.”

Bro. Barney said “Buy Black Vending and Buffet II” is planned for March.

Organizers of the event included husband and wife teams Ronald and Wilhelmenia Muhammad, Khalil and Maxine Muhammad, Barney and Dora Muhammad, Russell and Harriet Muhammad and Sis. Debra Muhammad. Celebrating December birth anniversaries at the event were Nation of Islam pioneer Sylvester Muhammad, 97, Bro. John Muhammad, 85, and Sis. Malika Ahmad and Sis. Judith Muhammad.