[Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s keynote address on the occasion of Saviours’ Day, held Sunday, March 1, 2009, at the Rosemont Theatre in Rosemont, Illinois. To order this lecture on CD/DVD or MP3 visit store.finalcall.com or call 1-866-602-1230.]
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
One hundred thirty-two (132) years ago in the Holy City of Mecca, in Arabia, a child was born with the purpose of seeking to find and save a people who are styled in the scriptures as “The Lost Sheep.” And we can find no persons on this planet more fitting of that description of The Lost Sheep—The Lost People—than the Black man and woman of America and the Western Hemisphere, who were brought to these shores over 450 years ago, and robbed completely of the knowledge of self.
Our names, our language, our culture, our history: Stripped from us, so that in the Western world, having no root in ourselves; no knowledge of our own God and our own religion, it rendered us—spiritually—blind, deaf and dumb. Easily led in a wrong direction; difficult to lead in a right direction. And those who were our captors wanted to make us perpetual slaves, but we thank God, that He has always come to the side of the oppressed, to the side of weak, to the side of the downtrodden, to the side of the enslaved, to raise them from that condition.
I thank Master Fard Muhammad, Who studied 42 years to deliver us. He gave us a man; His messenger to us, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who, with the wisdom of his teaching, would begin to build Black people who are like scattered bones in the valley, into a community, a “called-out” people, a nation within a nation.
When the Honorable Elijah Muhammad met Master W. Fard Muhammad, he asked Him: “Who are you?” He said, “I am Mahdi. I came to guide you to the right path, that you may be successful.” “Mahdi” is an Arab word that means “The Self-Guided One,” or, “One Who guides others.” And if there is anything that we need, or this world needs, it is Right Guidance.
‘Blessed is he who forges the way for others’
We are blessed today, for the first time in the history of our sojourn in America, to have a Black man as the 44th President of the United States of America: Barack H. Obama. And although he has only been in office a little over 30 days, he’s moving at breakneck speed to accomplish what many would think is impossible.
I have chosen as the subject today “We Must Accept Our Responsibility to Build Our Community.” A benevolent White man in the White House does not mean salvation for us; nor a benevolent Black man in the White House. It does have great meaning, and we are thankful, for what Brother President Barack Obama has unleashed in the hearts and minds of the babies can never be put back in the bottle again. Our people are on the move, and we will never return to what we were.
President Obama shows us what is possible. When you look at the young gang-bangers, the young people who had no hope; who didn’t think that there was any promise for them, and, they live their lives carelessly—dragged down by violence and drugs and criminal behavior—today, there’s an energy among our people that has never been seen before.
Not produced by any man or organization before, but Brother Barack has enlivened Black people to possibility. We must not let that energy die, and we must not allow our people to live in a false world of euphoria that will give way to great despair if we don’t take on our shoulders the responsibility that God has placed on us to get up and do something for ourselves.
We have always seen Black men and woman of scholarship risen to positions of management over White affairs. That’s not unusual. And, many of us like to boast that “I am the first.” But the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, “Blessed is he who forges the way for others,” because the “first” in anything that we have achieved in America has caught pure hell to open the door for others! That man has only been in office a little over 30 days, and you have never seen any president looked at with the focus that this Black man is looked at with such.
Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said that he hopes President Barack Obama will “fail.” A man who is trying to save America from her destiny, and you hope that he will fail? Is it his Blackness that troubles you, that you don’t want him to succeed because that will say that he does something that you all have failed to do? Is the hate so deep, that for political reasons, some are saying that the Stimulus Package is putting debt on future generations, as though they haven’t done it? What hypocrisy!
President Barack Obama has inherited The Fall of America! He has inherited the collapse of your institutions! He has inherited what your greed, your false pride, your arrogance and your wickedness has brought to your door!
When I was growing up in the Anglican Church, my wonderful roots, we always prayed on Sunday for our leaders. Don’t you want to pray for him, that he will help America out of this condition? You mean, all of your former presidents were worthy to be prayed for? But not he?
Well today, I feel so honored to stand before you and to stand before the American people and the people of the world, to share with you guidance. I want you to listen; to pay attention. I don’t want you to put your hope in a Stimulus Package. It’s going to take more than a Stimulus Package to bring America from where she is.
I hope that the proud will be humble enough to listen to a son of ex-slaves. A son of America that hated the land of my birth—not because the land is not beautiful. I have been all over the world, but this is a beautiful, beautiful country. What I hated was the undeserved suffering of a people who gave their all to America. From the harsh reality of the slave plantations; and the cruel Middle Passage; and the brutal whip and lash of our cruel masters, we gave you our all.
And I want to say to the dear pastors and spiritual teachers of America and the world: Beloved, don’t lose the prophetic voice of the Black Church. Don’t allow your desire for acceptance from your former slave masters and their children—or even acceptance by the new president—to shut your mouth to what the Word of God has put there from the Bible and Qur’an.
If you are afraid, and you want the acceptance of men more than the Favor of God, then I pray that Allah will chastise you with the chastisement that you are due for your wicked failure to say to the government: “Thus sayeth the Lord.”
Why should America change?
Our Brother President rose to power on the theme of change. That word, change, resonated throughout America and the world—from America to China, to the Isles of the Pacific, Central and South America, because all of humanity is groaning under the leadership of those who have taken them and misused their stewardship. It resonated so strongly that the Republicans picked it up, and they, too agreed that we need change.
Do you think the people wanted a change from Republican to Democrat? No! That’s like saying I want to be changed from “Lucifer” to “Satan” to the “Devil” to “Beelzebub”! Everybody has caught hell from both these parties, so the people are not asking for a change of “Party”—the people are asking for change in the direction of a nation. Real change.
Barack Obama arose as an agent of change. He said, “We need to remake America.” What kind of power will it take to remake a country that is rooted in good words, but bad deeds? That kind of change, I respectfully say to Brother President, cannot be done with the staff that you have. The change that you seek can only be brought about by The Power of the anointing of The Spirit of God Himself, for the Bible teaches, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit sayeth the Lord.”
The people that he has gathered around him may be brilliant, and I’m sure they are, but brilliance is not what America needs alone. If we were so brilliant, we wouldn’t be guessing at “Maybe this will work”; or, “Maybe that will work.” We’re not at a time period where America can afford grave errors and mistakes in leadership. You don’t have that much time to get it right.
The Sign of Jonah
If we need the Guidance of God, then we must refer to the scriptures to see if we can find this kind of change talked about and hoped for. What comes to mind is the people coming to Jesus: “Master, give us a sign.” And the Master said, “This wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign. But no sign shall be given to you except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth.”
Why Jonah? Jonah is called “The Reluctant Prophet.” He was asked by God to go to Nineveh, but he went in the opposite direction. Well, any resemblance to those in our audience is not a coincidence, because all of us know what God requires of us, don’t we? We know the right direction, but it seems, just like Jonah, we take an opposite course. After God swallowed Jonah in a circumstance that he realized only God could get him out of, then he prayed, and God, the scriptures teach, caused the fish to spit him up on dry land.
Jonah was angry and upset that he had to go to the foreign city of Nineveh, to a people who were wicked. He didn’t mind going to the Jews from which he was a member. “But you send me to Nineveh! To the Assyrians! Why did You send me there? See, I know they are wicked! And I know You are going to forgive them!” Some of us are so hateful of our oppressors that we don’t want to see any forgiveness coming to them! And if you would preach to the oppressor, and the oppressor bows down, you get angry because you know the Mercy of God!
And so he went to Nineveh, and the King heard that God was going to destroy Nineveh within 40 days. The King knew and believed this, because he knew the people were wicked, and wickedness has to bring about a consequence. So the King took off his robe; and put on sackcloth and ashes, and called on the people of Nineveh to fast and pray, and the people also took on sackcloth and ashes. The Book says, “It repented God that He was going to destroy Nineveh. And Nineveh was spared.”
When you look at Nineveh, and you look at Moses, he had a duty to his people—but he was sent to Pharaoh, who was not his people. And he warned Pharaoh, “God has a purpose for the slave. Let them go.” Pharaoh could have listened, but he didn’t, and Egypt was gone.
However, Nineveh listened. And guess what? Nineveh is the only city in the scriptures that God had purpose to destroy that was spared. Jesus said, “I give you this as a sign.” And the name “Son of man” is connected, now, to that scripture because the Son of man comes at the end of the world to bring about justice and judgment. But the preponderant quality in that Son of man is mercy.
Nineveh or Babylon? America must repent
Brother Barack wants to produce change. Well, what is change but repentance? “Repent” means “to feel remorse, contrition or self reproach for what one has done or failed to do.” Something is wrong in America that Barack wants to change, and that word change is a substitution for the word that America must repent! The arrogant one will say, “Repent for what?” Don’t let me run the list down, now, because I know what I am speaking of.
Not only do I know, but you know as well! Every evil deed that you have done is written in a book. And the Qur’an says, “In that day, you will see every nation bowing down before their book.” This is not a country that just went wrong! This is a country rooted in evil! “Farrakhan, you’re an anti-American.” No. The real anti-American is the evil-doer who thinks that his evil has not been seen or heard by The God of Justice!
There is a man in the Book called John the Baptist. When John came, he used these words: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” But in order for the Kingdom to come, the people to whom John was preaching had to feel some contrition, some remorse, some self-reproach for what was done. But instead, they asked for John’s head on a platter.
In addition to Nineveh, there is another city that is heavily mentioned in the Bible called “Babylon.” It is interesting that both of these cities were both located in the area now known as Iraq. Babylon was a great city that waxed rich and strong; and the nations of that time became rich because of their trade with Babylon. But Babylon and her wicked kings—Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar—had captured Jerusalem; and had taken the Jews out of Jerusalem and brought them into Chaldea. They took the gold and silver vessels out of the temple in Jerusalem and destroyed the temple, and brought these gold and silver vessels into Chaldea and defiled them with wine and strong drink. So The God was angry with Babylon.
Old Babylon is gone, but the Bible teaches, “Babylon could have been healed, but she was not.” Nineveh heard; but Babylon rejected, and persecuted the Jews.
In the 51st Chapter of the Book of Jeremiah, it tells us the consequence for Babylon’s wicked deeds. Ancient Babylon had murder and mayhem in her streets! How completely displeased was God with Babylon that He destroyed that city to nothingness?
As Babylon could have been healed, America can be healed. I know we caught hell in America! I know that we have been mistreated! But the Promise of God was that under the right conditions, Babylon could have been healed. So it is with America: Under the right conditions, America, too, can be healed. But the question is, “Will she?”
America has been weighed in the Balance, and has come up short. While the wicked can manipulate the courts of men; and confound international criminal courts by your chicanery, you cannot upset The Balance that has weighed you! And when you have been weighed in The Balance, and found wanting, that means that your evil has outweighed your good. And then God, and the Universe, begin to act against you. A “Stimulus Package” won’t save you, nor stop what God and His Universal Order is now bringing about.
America’s ‘Economics 101’
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said divine plagues and foreign wars are now destroying American life and money. Brother Barack needs guidance, but who will he surround himself with? He needs teachers of scripture. There are pastors and activists that surround our president; who see that our people’s hope is all wrapped up in the Stimulus Plan, yet, they make no mention of the prophets’ predictions of what is happening in this time. How will he be guided aright?
President Obama does have brilliant people around him, but not brilliant enough! In the scriptures, Paul said “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God,” so what do you know? I’m not trying to say that you are a fool. No. But what you think you have to solve the problem that was created by your errors, your greed and your wickedness cannot be solved with the foolishness of your wisdom.
This is why the Bible teaches, “I have kept these things from the wise and the prudent man, revealing them unto babes.” Well, you don’t consider yourself no “babe” with your grown-up wicked self! So now, I want us to look at what Barack faces, so you are not going to run around thinking that the Stimulus Plan is our “hope.” There’s some hope in it, but not enough.
Did you know that they are saying the unemployment rate is at 8 percent; and it could be headed for 10 percent or even higher by the year’s end? If their unemployment rate is 10 percent, then that means for Blacks it is 20-25 percent. And this rate for Black teenagers has risen to 20.8 percent—which makes it a prescription for the prison industrial complex.
Did you know that 44 out of the 50 states are facing shortfalls in their budget for this year and next year? Did you know that foreign companies are buying U.S. roads and bridges and infrastructure? Did you know that these bridges and roads built by U.S. taxpayer dollars are starting to be sold off, and so far, foreign-owned companies are doing the buying? Who is allowing this? You’re the taxpayer, but you don’t know anything about it.
Our president has said: “Clearly, the situation is dire. It is deteriorating, and it demands urgent and immediate action…” The word “dire” means “characterized by severe, serious or desperate circumstances; warning of a future disaster or serious consequences.” And if you listen to the talking heads, who say, “Oh, Barack is trying to put fear in us with this doom and gloom talk.” See, you’re so used to being led by liars, you can’t respect a man that will tell you the truth of your real condition. And you are so unused to facing hardships.
What is America’s debt? According to accepted accounting practices, the debt is $10.8 trillion, and rising everyday. But if you count Social Security, Medicare and the pension funds and things that have been used, America is $65.5 trillion in debt. That is more than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of every nation on the earth combined.
America, how did you allow yourself to get into such condition? And whose responsibility is to solve it—and how?
Accepting Our Responsibility
We are learning that education is not just a human need—education is a human right—and it belongs to every human being on this planet. Every government should find a way to educate its people without making education an elitist experience. It was Dr. Abdul Alim Shabazz who knew and wrote that the American people were purposely being dumbed down. When you have a dumb electorate, you do not have democracy, because democracy presupposes an enlightened electorate that knows its self interest.
The U.S. population of Blacks is 38.3 million; and Blacks earn $744 billion annually. However, we spend billions upon billions of dollars on vices such as alcohol, tobacco and sport and play. Can’t we sacrifice a fifth? Can you sacrifice a six pack? Yes, you can get something from the stimulus package, but why not let us stimulate from our package? My point is there’s something that we’ve got in our pocket right now that we can sacrifice for the national good, if we would just learn just to sacrifice some vice and put it into a National Treasure.
We as so-called leaders have to form a national trust of leaders. All of our artists, entertainers, sports figures are doing something to give back, and we have to give them credit for that; however, no matter what we do, it’s not enough. But if we were apart of a national pot, and everybody put in what they could afford to sacrifice, how short a time would it be that we would have $30 million, $40 million, $50 million—even $1 billion?
If America is for sale, how much of it do we own? Then what’s the first thing we should buy? Land. What does one million acres of land look like? And what could we start with that? We know The One that makes rain, hail snow and earthquakes, and if we had one million acres, so we must talk to The God. God wants to show America that if we would come out of unrighteousness, He would begin to bless us as a sign to America if she would repent.
In building a community, everybody has to go to work. Everyone’s talent has to be put to use. We’ve got people among us who know how to organize people effectively. Preachers, scholars, lawyers; local, national and international activists; and entertainers: Don’t you think that we could come together and plan spiritual education, pool our preachers together and stop hooping, shouting and going crazy and leaving the people in ignorance? Can’t we plan a spiritual curriculum based on the Bible and Holy Qur’an, and educate people that when they come to church it should be a learning experience about God as it was today?
We can multiply what we see here all over the country. It’s time now, because if we don’t do it now, and lose this opportunity, then our people and their children, will never forgive us. Barack has done his job. Now we’ve got to do ours.
Lets gather the house. We don’t have a lot of time. I need help. I know I can’t do it by myself, but I know we need help, and the help is here. The people are ready. The question is: Are we ready to go to work and build a national community? Who is going to help me do that?
There are people all over the world that will help us if we would determine to help ourselves. All of you: Let’s go to work. Let’s build our community and make it a decent place to live. If we do this, we can take our young brothers away from the violence, away from the guns, away from the self-hatred.