When an opinion article by Peter C. Herman attacking Dr. Ava Muhammad, national spokesperson of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, was recently published in San Diego it spawned a controversy.
Mr. Herman falsely labeled the Nation of Islam student minister an anti-Semite and opposed her participation in a reparations conference at San Diego State University.
It also opened the door for discussion of a major issue that Dr. Muhammad has been dealing with: Separation as the solution to America’s race problem.
The intrusive actions and falsehoods of Mr. Herman, a Jewish English professor at San Diego State University, helps make the case for separation, said Student Minister Muhammad.
“It absolutely confirms the words of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, both in Point No. 4 of The Muslim Program, that we simply cannot get along with them in peace, and it confirms his words where he stated to Black people, ‘Allah will make you separate,’ ” she said.
“It is another example of the profound level of intrusion on our freedom of thought, speech and action in our own interests. And to say to Black people, that in essence, we are not allowed to come together to map out our future, and to make decisions based on our unique experience, indicates the absence of any progress from 1555, when we were brought here in chains,” she added.
Mr. Herman was upset that doctoral student Terry Sivers received $68,000 for a student-led program exploring slavery and reparations with a proposed speaker list that included Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of “The Case for Reparations,” Min. Muhammad, and Omali Yeshitela of the African People’s Socialist Party.
Mr. Herman also leveled a false charge of anti-Semitism against Min. Farrakhan.
On May 10, 2014 Min. Muhammad, an attorney, author, radio talk show host, wife, mother, and grandmother, offered historical analysis, facts, and sound reasoning at the Salaam restaurant in Chicago. The title of the discussion was “The Testimony of Extraordinary Women: They Denied Themselves So That He May Give Life.”
An emailed question put to Min. Muhammad said: “Why is it necessary for (Min. Farrakhan) to keep attacking the Jewish community? What benefit has it had for him and the NOI, or Black folks? What will this do for the liberation of our people? I mean, really. Get over it.”
In part of her response, Min. Muhammad shared how the Jewish community had at that time relentlessly attacked Min. Farrakhan for 30 years as he and the Nation of Islam were trying to uplift the downtrodden.
“I have never seen a Jew in the Black community, inviting any Black person to Judaism, inviting any Black person to know the Torah,” she said, as the audience applauded.
“The only time the Jews have ever been present among us is to open their outposts, their retail stores, to sell us damaged, cheap goods, marked up against the price. They were down there in the cotton fields, in the Mississippi Delta, teaching the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants who were too stupid to keep us in check after the end of the Civil War. It was the Jews that have taught the White man, all the way up to the NBA, right now, a modern-day microcosm of a plantation. Min. Farrakhan, contrary to this idea he attacks them, he is Allah’s weapon against them as a life-giving sun. He is exposing them.”
“We need to charge them with being anti-Black, because they need to define to us what is ‘anti-Semitism,’ and if we point out the role that a Jewish person played in history are we going to be anti-history?” asked Student Minister Waliullah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam’s Muhammad Mosque No. 8 in San Diego.
“Are we going to tell lies as opposed to the truth?” he asked.
At Final Call press time Dec. 29, he was planning to meet with San Diego State University’s administration, Black Student Union, and others to show support for Min. Ava Muhammad and address pressure put on the Black students.
Project Separation tour
Min. Ava Muhammad will kick-off year two of her national Project Separation tour with a Jan. 11 town hall meeting in Washington, D.C.
The 2020 Project Separation tour will include a major plenary session Feb. 22, in Detroit, during the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours’ Day convention.
“Should Blacks and the Indigenous Consider Separation?” will be the plenary session’s focus.
Previous town halls have been held in Birmingham, Memphis, St. Petersburg, Fla., Tampa, Fla., Detroit, St. Louis, Harlem, N.Y., Phoenix, Prince George’s County, Md., Chicago, Orlando, Milwaukee, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Richmond, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Coldwater, Miss.
Min. Ava Muhammad predicts 2020 will be a profound year with Blacks moving toward the realization that they cannot live in peace with Whites. Thus begins the exodus, as prophesied in the book of Genesis with God’s promise to Abraham, which describes Blacks’ sojourn in America, she said.
And, Blacks are already separate in an inferior condition called segregation.
Blacks die earlier, get paid less, get sicker more, are more likely to be arrested and jailed, serve longer sentences, are less educated and live apart from Whites.
“I think that Blacks are attempting to live, all people in America are trying to live out this dream,” said Cheryl Mango, assistant professor of history at Virginia State University. “They say it’s an experiment, and we are in the midst of an experiment, and this experiment is basically a whole bunch of different people from different geographic locations, different racial backgrounds, religions, descending upon land that was Native American land, and we are all trying to exist in this idea as one.”
“Ideally, it’s the idea that we are integrated, but in reality, Black people are separated, because we are inherently our own group of people that exists inside of this larger reality,” said Professor Mango. “We live separated just by our experience of the fact of segregation, living in our segregated communities, in our own communities, and things of that sort.”
The Nation of Islam has been criticized for calling for a separate state or territory for Blacks in America, but the Nation is not the only group that has advocated for changing political bonds: A vote in 2021 on whether California should become an independent country has been proposed. California’s secretary of state announced in April 2018 that proponents could begin gathering signatures to qualify for the ballot. If approved by a majority of voters, it would require the legislature to declare California’s independence from the United States.
International independence and secessionist movements are active in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and North America. Some are calling for separate sovereign states while others want greater autonomy or self-rule within existing nations.
Min. Farrakhan talked about separation during the 30th annual conference for the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America last summer in Detroit.
“We have never been allowed to grow to the fullest manifestation of who we are. There’s always a Caucasian reality and a wicked system that is at the head of your desire to rise,” he said.
Every generation of Blacks believes America’s system will grant justice, but in over 464 years Blacks have never been granted justice, the Minister said.
In his 2013 lecture series “The Time and What Must Be Done,” Min. Farrakhan broached the idea of an eventual vote among Black and Indigenous people on whether they wish to separate or remain with God’s enemy, Ava Muhammad said.
“Separation is not the goal. The goal is the spiritual, mental and moral resurrection of God’s people. Separation is just the process. It is a means to an end and not the end,” explained Ava Muhammad.
Separation Town Hall meetings discuss the advantages of self-determination and having space in America where Blacks can live in peace and control their own affairs, she added.
“We know that there are 40 million to 60 million of us here, and there are areas where we are the majority population. So we educate and enlighten people to the political realities of why this is attainable. That’s it’s not only necessary, it’s attainable. And that’s why the Honorable Elijah Muhammad called it the best and only solution.
“It’s the best thing for our safety and future, but it’s the only solution that we confront the United States leadership and government and demand at the behest of Allah (God) that some of this 2,000 by 3,000 mile continent be allocated to us,” Ava Muhammad continued.
“I definitely see separation as a logical option to the kind of ongoing oppression that we as a people face here in this country,” said Zaki Baruti of the St. Louis-based Universal African Peoples Organization.
Separation could take place on several levels, he argued. “One is as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad used to teach in terms of being separate as far as five southern states,” said the activist. “But as I see that, there needs to be a mass migration. And with a mass migration, in terms of making it happen, we could seize what I say is state power and that state power would be founded as the legislative and judicial branches of the state. Along with state power comes control of the National Guard, so those are elements that we can use to protect ourselves from ones that want to oppress us,” he argued.
Mr. Baruti said he once recommended to Min. Farrakhan that the Nation of Islam consider moving its headquarters from Chicago to the South.
Another example of separation is repatriation back to Africa or somewhere else in the world, he said. He’s explored the idea of places such as South or Central America.
He highlighted the experience of the African Hebrew Israelites as an example of Blacks who moved to create a life outside of America.
Led by their late spiritual guide Rahbee Ben Ammi Ben Israel, the Black Hebrews first migrated to Liberia in West Africa and settled in Dimona, Israel in 1969.
“I happened to go and visit them, and they had a settlement of a couple thousand Black people and they were living peacefully,” said Mr. Baruti.
Minister Fuqua Bey, Grand Chief of Moorish Science Temple No. 25 in Detroit, named the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, who called for Black repatriation to Africa, and the Honorable Noble Drew Ali, father of the Moorish Science Temple, among giants who struggled in the 20th century for Black liberation.
“First, you’ve got to think your conditions can be better. Other than that, it don’t hurt bad enough,” he said. “If you think the conditions that you’re in are not bad enough, then you don’t try to walk in a noble light. You don’t try to march toward the noble light. You’re comfortable in the dark, so it’s no big thing for people that don’t think it’s nothing wrong.
“That’s why everybody don’t move at one time, because they don’t think nothing is wrong, until they’re burning down the town,” said Mr. Bey.
As for Blacks in America, said Mr. Bey, they still aren’t hurting enough to leave White America.
Dr. Ava Muhammad has a different view. “I think our people always understood (separation). It was a matter of whether they accepted it, and what I’ve experienced since June 2018 through November 2019 is not only acceptance, but embraced the solution offered by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” she said.
Separation is found in the Muslim Program, “What The Muslims Want-What The Muslims Believe.”
“We want our people in America whose parents or grandparents were descendants from slaves, to be allowed to establish a separate state or territory of their own—either on this continent or elsewhere. We believe that our former slave masters are obligated to provide such land and that the area must be fertile and minerally rich. We believe that our former slave masters are obligated to maintain and supply our needs in this separate territory for the next 20 to 25 years—until we are able to produce and supply our own needs,” stated the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in Point No. 4 of “What The Muslims Want.”
“Since we cannot get along with them in peace and equality, after giving them 400 years of our sweat and blood and receiving in return some of the worst treatment human beings have ever experienced, we believe our contributions to this land and the suffering forced upon us by white America, justifies our demand for complete separation in a state or territory of our own,” he continued.
Dating back to the 1960s, the Muslim Program appeared on the back page of Muhammad Speaks, the Nation of Islam’s legendary newspaper. Today it appears on the inside back cover of The Final Call.
“And many people may not realize that No. 5 of What the Muslims Want contains a declaration from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, that he wants every Black man and woman in America to choose whether or not they wish to separate,” said Ava Muhammad.
A growing interest in separation?
“We don’t even have to be extensive in our explanation and our reasoning for wishing to separate,” said Patrick Alexander of the Black Liberation Movement in Coldwater, Miss.
“If we just take the last 10 years in our plight, we begin to see the derivative results of us acting in an irresponsible way under the oppressors of racism and White supremacy.”
“We’ve seen the influx of our children being killed, and we see the mass incarceration of our people. We see the continued miseducation of our people, and we see the economic deprivation of our people, as well,” he told The Final Call.
“Moving forward, we’d be totally irresponsible if we do not even begin to have this conversation on separation and control and having our own self-determination,” said Mr. Alexander. “It’s the only logical thing that any intelligent people would be talking about right now.”
A national dialogue on separation, petitions and participation on a mass scale begins with understanding the importance of what’s being suggested, he said.
“Historically, in my observation, our organizations do not push this to the forefront of our people’s collective awareness, so then you only have organizations, such as the Nation of Islam, that has brought this type of proposition to Black people,” observed Mr. Alexander. “So if we’re not aware of our potential, and what it would entail if we were to separate in again a self-determined way, then we won’t have the response that we need.”
In North Mississippi and surrounding areas in the Delta, activists have begun to take the message of separation to residents for discussions with local councils and city government, said Mr. Alexander.
Mississippi has Black townships, but they are not operating with the mind and spirit of having control, land, and a cultural atmosphere of Black self-determination, he said.
Crystal Giles of the Black Liberation Movement added, “I think people are now more aware of what has been happening to us and it’s changed their thought process of what we need to do as far as to guarantee our survival and the survival of our children.”
Separation is way overdue, said Gregory Turner, CEO of Word on Da Street newspaper, magazine and TV show in Orlando, Fla. The key is building the relationships to help meet needs, and become self-sufficient, he said. Those who don’t know about separation want to learn more, Mr. Taylor insisted.
“There’s definitely a buzz,” he said.
(Final Call Staff contributed to this report.)