and Eric Ture Muhammad
CHICAGO–On Friday evening June 8, the gymnasium of Muhammad University of Islam on the grounds of Mosque Maryam was transformed into a beautiful room for several hundred family and friends gathered for the repast that followed the funeral of Louis E. Farrakhan, Jr.
The evening meal and celebration of the life of the eldest son of Min. Farrakhan and Mother Khadijah Farrakhan was also an Iftar, the fast-breaking meal for Muslims during the month of Ramadan where there is no eating or drinking during daylight hours.
The spirited, reflective and upbeat evening was highlighted by brief but powerful words from Min. Farrakhan.
The evening program included a beautiful musical and audiovisual slide show depicting the life of Brother Louis accompanied by different genres of music, punctuated with songs from artists like Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield echoing positivity. At the end of the tribute, on video, Brother Louis says, “Stay Black and beautiful, peace.”
Next came heartfelt comments from family and friends. For a man who loved music, the evening offered a musical rendition by sister-in-law Michelle Crenshaw, rap performed by Akeem Muhammad and Kareemah Muhammad, and comedy from Reggie Reg.
The program was hosted by Brother Louis’ daughter Maryam Farrakhan included remarks from niece Shaheerah Muhammad, son Mutawakkil Farrakhan and family friend Marion Bridgeman.
Minister Farrakhan electrified those in attendance, as only he could. “Louis has brought us all together today, and I want to thank all of you, for all of the love you have shown to Louis, his family, Mother Khadijah and myself, you came to strengthen us,” said Min. Farrakhan, who was recovering from a recent hospital stay with his vigilant daughter and nurse Fatimah by his side.
Minister Farrakhan thanked Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad whom he referenced as imam for the beautiful job he did in providing words of comfort at the jananzah service earlier that day.
Some of what troubled Brother Louis was division between Islamic communities, said the Minister Farrakhan. “Today was that sign of genuine love across community lines and especially in the families of Muhammad and Farrakhan,” he said.
“The most important thing to him (Louis, Jr.) was the vision of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” added Min. Farrakhan, describing his son who passed away at the family home in Phoenix, as an intermediary between him and everyday people and all who met Brother Louis.
“Louis with his manner, method, and beauty of his heart touched those who came from near and far was a great representative of what Islam should bring about,” he said.
“Your being here is a testimony to who Louis is. I pray that this is not just a wonderful Iftar and celebrating the life of my son but the beauty of him will inspire us to continue on the path of Islam.”
The Minister paid tribute to his grandchildren, saying they were gifted and their father had visions of them making contributions to the Nation of Islam and he believed that they would.
Family friend Marion Bridgeman described Brother Louis as a “brother” to her, more than just a friend. “He was an innovator, energetic. He loved to make people happy. His favorite saying was there is nothing that Allah can’t fix. He was a great spirit and vessel from Allah; he will be truly missed,” she concluded.
Mosque Maryam is headquarters for the Nation of Islam and it was a house Brother Louis helped to build. His contributions were inspirational as well as physical.
“He was one of the most generous people you could ever meet,” commented Hassan Muhammad of The Final Call production team, reflecting on their near four-decade friendship. “His creativity was so unlimited. He saw things that you didn’t see that were right in front of you. Many times, the things he would say, you could laugh at. But, when you think about it, it made plenty of sense. He’s just somebody, that you miss instantly,” said Hassan Muhammad.
Brother Louis, similar to his father, had a passion for music and entertainment. Comedian, actor and impressionist Reggie Reg reflected on their relationship.
“Brother Louis was more than just a brother to me. I’ve been knowing him ever since I was 16 years old. He was very instrumental in my life because he was always joyful, never angry,” said Reggie Reg. “Always was a man that sought justice for people and in a short part of my career he was very active in my life as a stand-up comic. I remember Louis driving all of the way from Chicago to come to New York City to support me when I was on Late Night with David Letterman. I will never forget that and I was so surprised to see him. and I will miss Brother Louis,” he said
“I just want to speak about Brother Louis. What a beautiful brother. The brother had a unique soul. Very, very intelligent. He was just a beautiful caring brother. May Allah be pleased with our brother. … You know, he always had words of encouragement. May Allah be pleased with our brother, peace,” commented Carl Muhammad, a professional dancer, actor and choreographer.
“Louis was a magician and illusionist with his mouth and dialogue,” said childhood friend Eric Massey, 59, from White Plains, N.Y. “He could see you heading down the wrong road and he would use his words in such a way that he would put you back on the right track. I could take a baton and put it in his hand. He would run with it until he couldn’t run no more and give it to a younger person, passing it on. His legacy is his smile. That’s it. There was so much in his smile,” he said.
“His legacy? He always brought life or a type of energy to situations,” reflected Amy Muhammad, a longtime follower of and cook for Minister Farrakhan. “When we did the world tour, he was there. He always added life. When it got stressful, he would be that breath of fresh air that would lighten things up. He’d make you stop and enjoy yourself. He was extremely intelligent. He was an amazing person. He was goodhearted, down to earth.
“You know, he was never a big eater, so when he would see other people piling food on their plate, he would say, ‘they act like they weren’t going to eat tomorrow. What’s wrong? You are going to eat tomorrow,’ ” said Amy Muhammad with a laugh. “ ‘It’s not like it’s your last meal,’ he would tell the person. He would say that about people who he thought were overeating. He was like one of my brothers. I grew up with 12 brothers and he was like one of them. He was comedic.”
Brother Louis would look at serious situations, offer levity and it would make you look at that same situation from another perspective. “And you’d sometimes reflect on it and say, ‘that’s true,’ ” she said.
“My father was very exact. He did things differently, but always in a certain, ordered way,” shared Mutawakkil Farrakhan, 18, son of Louis, Jr., and Lesil Farrakhan. He shared memories of everything ultimately being a lesson learned. “He told me not to ride the motorcycle,” reflected the young man. “I rode it and fell off. I had these scars and bruises and I looked for Dad’s help. He wouldn’t help me,” Mutawakkil laughed. “‘You wanted to ride it, I told you not to get on it–so it better not come back to me that you fell off of this bike,’” he said of his dad. “‘But, Dad come on. I’m bleeding.’ He said, ‘that’s on you. You deal with it. Walk it off,” the young Farrakhan said with another laugh. Like his older brother, Louis Farrakhan III, he intends to enter the field of aviation.
(J.A. Salaam contributed to this report.)