CHICAGO—A sea of anxious listeners waited on the sidewalk outside Mosque Maryam, where Minister Louis Farrakhan would take the stage to deliver his monumental Saviours’ Day address titled “The Swan Song.” With snow on the ground and temperatures in the 30s and 40s, thousands stood in two lines on South Stony Island Ave., waiting to receive the wristbands that would grant them entrance onto the grounds. Some of those in line were registered Believers of the Nation of Islam, some had been listening to Min. Farrakhan for years, while others weren’t sure what to expect.
For Corey B., his reason for braving the packed lines to hear Min. Farrakhan was simple:
“He changed my life,” he said. He and his brothers conversated in line, patiently waiting for it to move. They all traveled from Newark, N.J., to be there. Mr. Corey says Min. Farrakhan has impacted several areas of his life.
“The way I am as a man, the way that I treat people, the way that I honor our sisters,” he listed. “I’m hoping to hear a very powerful message. The things that we are involved in today, a message for the world, and a way forward in the future.”
Unlike Mr. Corey, 25-year-old Tyler Wesley from Atlanta, Ga., had no idea what to expect from Min. Farrakhan’s speech. She stood in the cold to hear him, but had never heard of him prior to that day. She was brought along by Abdul Muhammad, who was raised in the Nation of Islam. Ms. Wesley said she came with an open mind.
“Just for the experience,” she said. “To hear different views of the world.”
Coming from New York, Sandra W. was also there with an open mind. She was brought by her cousin.
“I’m here to find out what this is all about. This is my first time here,” she said.
Hailing from the West Coast, Tony Muhammad of the John G. Jones Grand Lodge of San Diego, California, a masonic temple, simply wanted to hear a message of truth.
“I’m all ears,” he said. “When you know a person is bringing the truth, it doesn’t matter the topic, because it’s truth, it’s facts. You can either accept it, or let it alone.”
Noble Jason Alexander Durden from Los Angeles, Calif., came along with Mr. Muhammad to support Minister Farrakhan.
“I’m here enjoying myself, I’m loving the atmosphere, loving the environment, and it’s a good learning experience that I will never ever forget. So I cherish this moment,” he said.
Ms. Williams, 31, was another person who planted her feet on South Stony Island Ave. to await Min. Farrakhan’s message. She’s been listening to him for years, but this was her first time coming to Mosque Maryam to see him in person.
“It’s actually changed a lot in my life to hear him speak and actually changed a lot of lives, me being able to tell other people about him,” Ms. Williams said.
Family and friends have begun listening to Minister Farrakhan, based on what she’s shared with them about him.
“Other people that I meet outside, strangers, I can actually bless them with the blessings he’s given to me,” she said.
Papasean Fard, from Chicago, was a somber soul as he waited on the avenue. He said upon hearing the title “The Swan Song,” it made his heart ache.
“When I heard that––I won’t get too emotional––but when I heard that this was his swan song … If anybody knows the science of the swan song, you know that this is something that the swan does right before he dies,” Mr. Fard said. “My connection with my spiritual father, Minister Farrakhan, it really broke my heart because I ain’t really ready to see a world without him in it. But I know that if he has to leave, he’ll return with his crown and his sword with a new book for us.”
Meanwhile, Marcus, also from Chicago, brought his whole family.
“Being from a certain demographic, I always appreciated the Minister’s strong message and his strong presence in Chicago,” he said while making sure his baby was warm in the blanket. He says about six or seven years ago, he witnessed the Believers in Chicago come into the community in an impactful way.
“They came out in … a force that I really appreciate,” he said. “Honestly, the only thing I would really want [Min. Farrakhan] to touch on is what’s taking place in the Ukraine. Everything else, I’m just happy to be here.”
Qiana Curry from Chicago says her affiliation with the Nation of Islam came from putting her children in Muhammad University of Islam.
“I believe in us and in what we’re doing and I want to hear what the Minister has to say today,” Ms. Curry said. She says she attended a Saviours’ Day convention in Chicago, and was ready to hear Minister Farrakhan once again for herself.
“I just … want to be here,” she expressed. “I just didn’t want to miss the last opportunity.”
Ramar Alston from New York City says he’s always admired Minister Farrakhan, who he became familiar with through the Five Percent Nation. He had already booked a trip to Chicago, then a friend of his told him that while he was in town, Min. Farrakhan would be speaking.
“It was a perfect time for me to come and hear the Minister speak and to see how much information I can get to take with me,” he said. “I would like to hear about reparations. Maybe a little bit of this conflict that’s going on with Russia and Ukraine. Just anything about unity amongst everyone in our communities that really needs some kind of hope to change this current situation that we’re in.”
The topics that sat on the hearts of those on South Stony Island Ave. were addressed by Min. Farrakhan during his speech. He spoke about overcoming the trials and obstacles that life presents and gave words of strength and courage. He also addressed speculation surrounding the title of his lecture, “The Swan Song.”
“How can a teacher of wisdom from the God of wisdom and the messenger of wisdom retire? As ignorant as we are?” Min. Farrakhan said.
“There’s no swan song like that for me. But when I get finished, there might be a song in it for you. And I’m going to help you to sing it strong,” he said.
Min. Farrakhan also walked listeners along his journey in Islam, and the many trials he went through and lessons he learned from the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. Another hot topic he spoke about was the Covid-19 vaccines and his instruction not to take them.
“You have never seen such a masterful public relations effort to get us to take the jab,” Min. Farrakhan said. “It got so bad, they know you love joints, so they offered you a joint for a jab.”
He went on to speak about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“It means the war to end all wars has started,” he said.
Lucia Polo, who primarily speaks Spanish, used a translation app during the speech. She lives in Chicago with her husband, but is originally from Colombia. Seeing all the Muslims together touched her.
“I’m for unity, togetherness. Everything was very good,” she said.
Her husband further translated for her, saying that she also learned that Muslims believe in Jesus, and learned more about the Muslim community.
Lawrence Harmon is from Davenport, Ia., but took the two-hour ride to Chicago to hear Min. Farrakhan speak. His cousin picked him up, and told him he was going to experience something new.
“It was very powerful. It brought so much light to the darkness,” Mr. Harmon said. “I’ve never really experienced anything like this before, seeing all these Black people come together. I’ve never seen all these Black people in one area. So it was a great experience for me today.”
He says Min. Farrakhan spoke to him personally.
“My quote of the day, what he said earlier …” Mr. Harmon fished for the quote in the notes he took on his phone. “He said, ‘I can’t live without the truth’ and that hit home for me.”
Chania Sims, a 17-year-old high school senior from Baltimore, Md., attended Saviours’ Day on a school trip. She says what Min. Farrakhan said about the coronavirus and birth control opened her eyes to how the virus has impacted people, and how contraceptives can be harmful to women’s bodies.
“Throughout him speaking, I think it was wonderful,” Ms. Sims said.
She says she saw a video snippet of him on social media, but this was her first time seeing him speak in person.
“I heard certain people starting to talk about it, certain negative things about him, some would say good things about him, but I said I have to [hear] it for myself,” she said.
Alexander Montgomery, 32, from Detroit, Mich., thought the message was brilliant.
“This is actually my first time seeing the Minister speak in person. It was everything that I expected it to be. I’m happy that he touched on the vaccine. That was very important for me,” Mr. Montgomery said.
He says he agrees that there is a plan to depopulate the planet, and that he’s watched some of his own family members be affected by the vaccine.
“My family, you know, developing seizures and cancer and all these different types of things due to the vaccine,” he said. “So I just feel like that’s an important message to get out so that we can get that out to the people and prevent that.”
Melonie Cobbs from Raleigh, N.C., has been following Min. Farrakhan for only six months. She found his message to be powerful and desperately needed.
“I really feel very strongly that it is the end times now and so it’s a desperate call for our Black folks, that are chosen people of God to really listen and pay attention and be obedient as he mentioned,” Ms. Cobbs said.
She attended because she felt like this could be the last time the world would hear from him “at least in this form,” she said.
Her beginning to listen to him a few months ago was a prayer answered.
“My husband was the one who drew me towards him, or he was the vessel that God used to draw me to him, but I had been asking God for the truth, just to show me what the truth was, because for quite some time, I was following Christianity,” she said. “And I just feel like God has drawn me towards Islam, knowing that that’s the desire of my heart is to know the truth.”
Kristina Bryant from Louisville, Ky., had attended Saviours’ Day in 2020 and got to hear him in Detroit.
“I just couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to hear his last public speech,” Ms. Bryant said. “He really has changed my life tremendously in the past couple of years. I’ve cleaned up my diet, my thinking, and I’ve been studying, so I definitely had to come here.”
She says him sharing his journey in Islam resonated with her.
“Where he started, where he’s coming from, what he had to go through, and it just really was humbling to me,” she said. “The trials that I go through every day compared to what he’s been through and he just gives me hope to stay faithful and trust in Allah.”
Leroy Jackson from Chicago was dealing with some personal issues, and hoped the Minister would give him guidance to be a better person.
“A friend of mine picked me up, and I just needed some help in a way and I wanted to hear the Minister speak,” he said.
He says after listening to Minister Farrakhan, he got what he was looking for.
“Everything he said stuck out to me,” Mr. Jackson said. “I feel that he was talking to me personally. I came and got the spiritual healing that I needed and it was so powerful and I want to pass on the message.”