DETROIT–Members of Justice Or Else! Local Organizing Committees (LOC) representing cities from across the country were reunited here at the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours’ Day convention where they reviewed the successes of recent campaigns–and shared pointers for continuing their work for justice.
Student Min. Ishmael Muhammad of Mosque Maryam, representing Chicago’s LOC, echoed the sentiments of the Honorable Min. Louis Farrakhan in thanking LOC members for their efforts.
Those efforts resulted in a successful Justice Or Else! themed 20th anniversary of the Million Man March and an economic boycott that began with Black Friday and extending the duration of the Christmas holiday buying season.
According to LOC co-chair and workshop facilitator Jeffrey Muhammad, the boycott was just the beginning. If the boycott on short notice of the Christmas holiday season is any indication of what we’ll be able to do moving forward, then a bright future that includes economic empowerment is on the horizon, he said.
Min. Jeffrey Muhammad said the “holiday crash,” or the paltry economic returns of the retail outlets during the holiday season, “could never have happened without the organizing efforts across the country of Local Organizing Committees.”
A prime example, he said, was Chicago’s LOC’s effort to mobilize groups and individuals to shut down stores along Chicago’s merchandising district. Through those efforts protesters shut down the mall at Water Tower Place and many of the upscale stores along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.
According to the Chicago Tribune, “Hundreds of activists marched down Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and blocked the entrances to some of the main drag’s high-end stores during a Black Friday … protest.”
Student Min. Ishmael Muhammad stressed the importance of the “Nine Ministries,” which are the component parts necessary for building an independent nation being incorporated into the LOCs’ programmatic thrust. The ministries include Agriculture, Arts and Culture, Defense, Information, Health and Human Services, Justice, Science and Technology, Trade and Commerce, and Education.
Another initiative championed by the LOCs is the 10,000 Fearless called for by Min. Farrakhan during his promotion tour for the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. The primary responsibility of the 10,000 Fearless will be making the Black community a safe and secure environment.
“Success does not depend on numbers,” said Ishmael Muhammad, assistant minister at Mosque Maryam. “We want fearless men and women to stand between the guns and the violence in our cities so we can make our neighborhoods a decent place for us to live.”
Another initiative championed by LOCs is Black economic development, said Cassiopeia Sledge. Ms. Sledge is co-chair of the Chicago LOC and founder of the online Black business directory, Blackmall.com.
She shared how Chicago’s LOC highlighted Black-owned businesses during the Kwanzaa celebration, particularly during the fourth day called Ujaama or Cooperative Economics. A special vending market place was held at Muhammad University of Islam that featured various speakers, she said.
“It was beautiful because we had representation for all the different types of cultures and religious affiliations that came and spoke to the issue of economic stability,” she said.
Ms. Sledge suggested that LOCs utilize established events like Kwanzaa to get the message of Black economic empowerment out to the public. In addition, she encouraged the LOCs to feature “buy Black market places like the Black Expo.”
During the question and answer portion of the workshop, Charles Oglesby, a retired school teacher, NAACP member and a representative of a New Jersey-based LOC, said his group has been heavily involved in area politics and he recently ran for the local school board.
“It is our responsibility to educate our people on the process of how city government works,” he said.