ERICTOUREM -Contributing Writer-

(L) Audience members at Saturday session promoting entrepreneurship and supporting Black businesses. (R) Min. Farrakhan speaks to 1,000 Black entrepreneurs during weekend meeting in North Carolina. Photos: Richard B. Muhammad

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.–“What did God create the human being to be? What is His purpose in the creation of human life?” began the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan during the last of two keynote presentations given at the S.B. Fuller and Joe L Dudley, Sr. Foundation conference.

A banquet and fundraiser for a museum devoted to successful Black businesses closed the weekend.

The three-day weekend May 20-23 dedicated to Black entrepreneurship also celebrated the 79th birthday of Joe L. Dudley Sr. and announced the building of the S.B. Fuller & Joe L. Dudley, Sr. Entrepreneurship Museum in Kernersville, N.C.

The summit’s theme, “Capitalism … the only true pathway to freedom” brought together experts in networking and business investment, business owners and operators, investment and tax strategists and a plethora of up and coming male and female Black entrepreneurs.

Joe L. Dudley, Sr.

All were influenced by the works of Samuel B. Fuller (1905-1988) early Black millionaire, founder and president of the Fuller Products Company and his student Joe L. Dudley, Sr., founder of Dudley Products Inc., Dudley Cosmetology University and the Dudley Beauty School System.

Mr. S.B. Fuller, president of the Fuller Products Corporation and chairman of the Negro Chamber of Commerce addressing a meeting of the forum in Chicago, Illinois at the Ida B. Wells Housing Projects. Photo: Library of Congress

These two men are credited with making thousands of wealthy Black businessmen and women for the past 80 years in North America. The work of these men, supporters agreed, demands construction of a monument in their honor.

“The inspiration now is because of what he did for me–because of what he taught me, I always believed that I wanted to do something that would be able to show my gratitude for all that he (Dudley) had done and Mr. Fuller had done,” a reflective disciple of the Fuller-Dudley legacy, Emilio Antonio “Tony” Guevara, told The Final Call. Mr. Guevara is the foundation’s president and CEO.

About 12 years ago the businessman shared with his wife the goal of building an entrepreneurship museum in the names of his mentors. “Too often our Black business leaders go unrecognized. They die and there is no recognition of them. Here you have Mr. S.B. Fuller who was the richest Black man in America in the 1950s, during segregation, pulling $18 million per year and running nine corporations. Nobody knows anything about this. He mentored gentlemen like John H. Johnson (Johnson Publishing), who did $400 million per year–repeatedly. Mr. John H. Johnson has passed away. Do you hear about him?”

 “Nothing. I can go on and on. I believe as Mr. Fuller believed and Mr. Dudley believes, that entrepreneurship is the only vehicle to empower us in our own communities,” said Mr. Guevara.

And what better way to inspire others than to build a museum with images and documented legacies that tell success stories? “A picture, is worth a thousand words like they say, right?” he said.

God: The greatest economist ever

Min. Farrakhan speaks at closing banquet for weekend devoted to Black business and entrepreneurship.

Using examples taken from the universe as his textbook, Min. Farrakhan delivered on his promise to those gathered at a May 22 fundraising dinner for the museum held at the Embassy Suites Hotel to tell “the greatest story of economic development” ever told.

The greatest story is found in the magnificence and beauty of Allah’s (God’s) creation, he said.

Thumbing through the universe, page after page, Min. Farrakhan delved into how man multiples; moved on to God’s ultimate purpose in creating man and identified collaborative and cooperative economics found in the divine creation of the universe and God Himself from the very beginning.

“When God made Adam He gave him a job,” Min. Farrakhan said. The first job God gave was for man to be a farmer. That job given to Adam was to till the soil; to cultivate and produce on the earth. Everything needed to live on, to sustain us and survive is found in the earth along with the people who come out of her, he said.

“Produce something from the earth, Adam. Produce a product. Put your product on the market and you will be fulfilling your natural purpose in life,” he said. The Nation of Islam minister explained how the beauty found in God’s earth–with vibrant fragrances and colors of flowers that produce beautiful arrangements–mimics man’s ability to draw from the earth and pool resources with others to build a greater economic reality for Black people.

“This is our moment in time,” he declared. “So, we can make it a beautiful moment. Or, we can follow Satan, and make it like the moment that has arrived.” That moment today in a world controlled by Satan is a world on the brink of destruction, the Minister said.

Basil Muhammad and his mother Andrea Muhammad greet Min Farrakhan at banquet. Photo: Richard B. Muhammad

He shared lessons from the recent birth of his 52 great grandchild. Multiplying in the physical way is a natural part of life and comes easy to the human being, said Min. Farrakhan. But that is not all man was to do as it relates to replenishing the earth, he explained.

“Multiplication is having a multiplicand and a multiplier to produce a product. … You are also a multiplier and you are birthed into the greatest book ever written,” Min. Farrakhan exclaimed. “It’s called the universe. There is no falsehood in it. Nothing false. So read in the name of thy Lord. Read creation. Because everything in it contains a lesson for man if man would be mindful.”

Just as the child is made to draw on the mother’s breast for sustenance so is man made to draw from the earth to fulfill his needs, the Minister continued. “This vast universe will not hold back it’s treasures from those who seek it. Just keep pulling (on it) for greater knowledge that will allow you to be a productive human being. That’s the aim of God when He said multiply.”

God wants man “to take what I have put in you and multiply it with what’s around you. And produce a product that says that you were here. Be what I created you to be, so that your life and your work is glorification of God,” the Minister said.

“The Minister’s message is always empowering. It’s invoking,” said image, hair and makeup artist Traci Tiera King, who is associated with the foundation. “Full of fire and the timing; to come and honor Mr. Dudley with and on his birthday it just makes everything very motivating.”

Just before the Minister’s presentation at the gala, Basil Muhammad, Jr., 21, an accomplished student of the piano and violin since age 5, brought the audience and Min. Farrakhan to their feet with a violin rendition of Bach’s Sonata No. 1. For the musician, born and raised in the Nation of Islam by parents Basil and Andrea Muhammad, performing before the Minister in the presence of his parents was a proverbial dream come true.

A meeting of Masterminds

Mr. Dudley hosts every Monday the Fuller & Dudley Mastermind Business Group Meeting at his home. Dozens of entrepreneurs and those aspiring to be successful gather to meet, share, network ideas and do business with one another.

George Fraser

A “special edition” of the Mastermind gathering May 20 drew over 1,000 attendees to the Benton Convention Hall to hear from financial and networking giants George Fraser, chairman and CEO of FraserNet, Inc.; Deborah Bartlett, founder and creator of Bartlett Communications (BMC) and Gems New Media Network in Nassau, Bahamas, Dr. Jackie Mayfield, founder of Comprotax, Charles Scott, CEO, and executive director of the Financial Crisis Prevention Center   and Min. Farrakhan. The audience also heard the reading of a letter to Mr. S.B. Fuller by the assistant to Mr. Dudley, North Carolina Central University graduate Denise Harrington. And there was an interpretive dance performance from Chandra Cherry and a song from young vocalist Jasmine. Horace Stanford Anderson served as the weekend’s master of ceremonies.

The more than 1,000 participants attending at the convention center heard presenters call for a shift from traditional capitalism models, which for Blacks translated into getting degrees and looking for jobs from White America, to tapping directly the $1.1 trillion that annually passes through Black hands. This money finds its way back to the coffers of others who never think about investing in Black communities, said presenters.

A new Black economic culture, presenters argued, must include going into the earth, do-for-self-reinvesting in our communities, creating jobs, opening credit unions and banks and encouraging Black-on-Black trade.

“The reality is that each and every day is an opportunity to create a powerful story in our culture and unless we find a way to write this story to claim our power, there will be devastating implications for our community and the world,” Dr. Fraser told the audience via a Skype presentation from Washington, D.C. “In other words there is no one to save us but us,” he closed.

“I would call what the Minister brought us this weekend is corrective information,” said entrepreneur John Raye of Forever Living Products, based in Greensboro, N.C. “We have been conditioned to do for others before we’d do for ourselves. The lack of self-love, the lack of self-knowledge creates that condition. That’s why I adore Min. Farrakhan. What he’s bringing is nothing but the gospel truth. And for him to come at his own expense and not accept anything from us. I mean he came all the way here to edify and lift another brother up? You got to look at a man like that. What Minister Farrakhan brought us, that’s enough to make a rock move. I mean a rock!” he said.

Edification and reverence

Throughout the weekend references to and accolades for the model and economic body of work of the Nation of Islam and its eternal leader, the Most Hon. Elijah Muhammad, were constant.

Master Fard Muhammad, the teacher of Elijah, was found working door to door in Black communities in his efforts to transform lives. That work remains the primary work of Nation of Islam members throughout the world. Mr. Fuller and Mr. Dudley trained all of their staff to go door to door and their products were not available in retail stores.

“Tony, the one thing I really want to make sure of is that Mr. Fuller’s legacy stays alive. It wasn’t about him. It was always, always about Mr. Fuller,” Mr. Guevara recalled Joe Dudley, Sr. saying. “I always tell people, that one of the main problems in our community is reverence. We do not revere those that have set the path for us, as we should. When you think about it, the only two Black men that uplift their legacies alive for the whole world to know about it–when you really think about it, are Min. Farrakhan with the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and Joe L. Dudley, Sr., with Mr. S.B. Fuller. You know about the Hon. Elijah Muhammad in every corner of this world, because of Farrakhan, wherever he goes, he uplifts the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. You know Mr. S.B. Fuller, because of Mr. Dudley. And they are contemporaries. So, I challenge anyone to tell me who else have you heard of that you got to know because the person who followed them helped them up in our community,” he scoffed. “Those are the only two I know.”

The weekend concluded with Mr. Dudley himself leading a Mastermind Monday night meeting as before him Mr. S.B. Fuller, had done. The weekly meetings have gone on for eight decades.     As for the foundation, the remainder of this year will include touring throughout the country, raising the names of S.B Fuller and Joe L. Dudley, Sr. and raising funds to build the museum.