, Contributing Writer
CHICAGO–Beginning in 1969 WGBH Boston’s preeminent public broadcasting TV station hosted an Emmy Award-winning public affairs program by, for, and about Black people called “Say Brother.” Now known as “Basic Black” it is the station’s longest-running public affairs television program.
Buried deep in its vault was a 1973 interview of Minister Louis Farrakhan who made an appearance on the show as the National Spokesperson for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam. This footage uncovered by Student Minister Carlos Muhammad and the NOI Archives had not been seen in over 46 years. What it reveals is nothing short of remarkable. The content of the program could have easily been broadcasted in 2019 as far as relevancy and answers to the problems that plague Black people in America.
The historic interview was among two classic interviews screened during the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours’ Day Convention the weekend of Feb. 15-17.
The “Say Brother” show hosted by Topper Carew, renowned film director, screenwriter, and producer revealed much on so many levels. Mr. Carew questioned Minister Farrakhan concerning a variety of topics including the program and position of the Muslims in the Nation of Islam, the movement’s relationship to Christianity, Black elected officials and opposition from the White community. What the Minister had to say on each of these topics was a back to the future moment for the hundreds who attended the Feb. 15 showing.
Minister Farrakhan in answering the questions made it crystal clear that the Muslim program is passionately concerned first and foremost with freedom, justice, and equality for the Black man and women in America. “Not freedom in name but freedom in fact,” he said. “We want freedom of mind, freedom economically to do for self, politically to govern self, spiritually to worship our own God and morally to walk in harmony with the divine laws.”
In answering the various questions from the show host during the broadcast, Minister Farrakhan related the problems of Blacks in America to a spiritual problem requiring spiritual answers. “We must open the spiritually blind eye of Black people. To make a Black man who has never wanted to listen to another Black man to make him hear, a tongue to speak and legs to stand up with and give him direction,” he explained.
In terms of programs of the Nation of Islam, the Minister said one must first understand the mission of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. “We believe the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is the Last Messenger of Almighty God Allah. We believe his presence in America is in divine fulfillment,” the Minister said. “We can fit his program into the context of divine prophecy. We aim to liberate the Black man spiritually and mentally. Learning started with the Black man and will end with him. So we must liberate the Black man from his false worship of White people and self-hatred. We must fall in love with self-unity, then we are ready to do constructive things for self,” he noted.
The TV program became exciting when the host delved into the relationship between Black politicians and the Muslim movement. Minister Farrakhan stated many Black politicians have great respect for the Messenger’s teachings and work in the Black community. “It would not be politically wise for them to say they embrace in totality his teaching philosophy or program.” Minister Farrakhan then added, “A man would have to be out of his mind in this day of enlightenment not to have respect for a man that is reforming drug addicts taking them off the corner and giving them useful knowledge. A man that is unifying every segment of the Black community into a constructive force for good.”
In terms of opposition from White people, this is what Minister Farrakhan had to say: “The strategy of the enemy changes with the advancement of the Black community’s intelligence knowing that they have taught our people that hate is evil and love is good, and we should love everybody.” “Knowing that they taught us to love everybody except ourselves. When the Muslims came to national prominence and attention, they accused us of being haters, teaching Black supremacy, anti-Christian and anti-God and secretly involved with foreign powers to overthrow the government. They were able to get the spokesman for the NAACP, CORE, and Black church groups to speak out against the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” the Minister continued.
“This served to throw a veil over Mr. Muhammad and the Muslims. This was designed by the propaganda machine and White America to cause Black people to hate the Muslims and have nothing to do with us. As we worked, people began to see we were not teaching hate but as a profound teacher was teaching the truth. If you charged him with anything, it would have to be that he is teaching Black people to love themselves,” he added.
The Minister finished this segment of the program explaining the educational thrust of the Nation of Islam and the need for the Black community to educate its own children. “Our parents don’t know the destructive seed that is sown in our children’s mind at an early age,” he said. “In that first level of learning the seed of Black self-hatred is sown, submission to White values, obeisance and willing acceptance of the norm and tutelage of Whites is accepted. As you progress in life you will find you can’t do anything constructive for yourself,” he noted. Blacks must take the reins of education of their children into their own hands, said the Minister.
As the “Say Brother” program concluded there was a question and answer session from the live audience. In answering one question, Minister Farrakhan pointed out that we the Muslims are in the midst of our enemies and are thriving. “Here we are hated by the government and some of our own people. You don’t see us frowning or shook up over the events of the times, upset and fearful of what will come tomorrow because we knew tomorrow yesterday,” he said. “Under the guidance of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad we were prepared for tomorrow the day before yesterday. We must look for leadership within.”
One particular question of note was asked about what Black people should concentrate on as majors in college. Minister Farrakhan answered the question suggesting Black people should focus on what is now known as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programs. “We should stay away from liberal arts programs song and dance, sociology. We must study courses that will lead to our liberation and advancement. We must concentrate on becoming doctors and engineers we can them embellish it with the arts.”
In concluding the Minister told the audience, “don’t say brother be a brother.” Another historic film featuring Min. Farrakhan, titled, “Minister For Black Souls,” on his work in New York City and special film preview of “A Nation of Common Sense,” featuring the Honorable Elijah Muhammad were also screened.
Student Minister Carlos Muhammad told The Final Call that the Nation has been in possession of the historic “Say Brother” broadcast for two years. “We wanted to show it last year but didn’t have space,” he said. “Allah has blessed us this year to have a packed house almost three hundred people in attendance. Who came to share in the history and great work of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.”