by Alverda Ann Muhammad, Guest Columnist
In The Name of Allah. The Beneficent. The Merciful.
And the trumpet is blown, when lo! From their graves they will hasten on to their Lord. They will say: O woe to us! Who has raised us up from our sleeping-place? This is what the Beneficent promised and the messengers told the truth. —Holy Qur’an, Chapter 36, Verses 51,52
At Saviours’ Day 2022, our Beloved Minister played and sang to and for us a Swan Song. He laid out a blueprint for us to follow in order to be able to join Him “up yonder” where He said he was going. He is not going to die to get there.
During this monumental five-hour Teaching, Minister Louis Farrakhan shared some of the many trials that He underwent in following His Teacher, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Near the beginning of the lecture, Minister Farrakhan promised that there would be a note in His Swan Song for each of us. This was not to be the Swan Song that he said many had come out to hear but that there would be a note for each of us. Mine came most certainly from the “Trumpeter Swan” when The Minister shared the story about a song He wrote entitled, “A White Man’s Heaven is a Black Man’s Hell,” which Minister Farrakhan recorded in the RCA Victor Studios in 1959.
The tune became an underground hit and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was offered $750,000 for the master of the song. He called Minister Farrakhan in and wanted to know from Him if he should accept the offer. The Minister said that He should not accept the offer, although he knew that the Dear Holy Apostle was wanting to build a Center and the Nation needed money.
When asked why not, the Minister said oftentimes a recording studio would purchase works just so they could sit them on the shelf and never see the light of day. He felt that since the song’s lyrics were the Teachings of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad that a White Man’s Heaven is a Black Man’s Hell might “quicken the Spirit” of our people further down the line in years to come. The master should not be sold.
“Can I get a witness?” asked the Minister. I answered, “Yes Sir, here I am.”
One day in late 1961, I was in a friend’s penthouse apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York City. I had by that time traveled to Europe; lived for a summer in Rome, Italy; and discovered that the Black man’s “Utopia” was not there, although I had been led to believe that life was better for Black people in Europe than in the United States; that the Europeans were “more sophisticated.” I wandered out onto the balcony overlooking Central Park and cried through soft tears out to the Universe, “Oh! God! If there is a God! Who are You? Where are You?”
About a month or so later, a songwriter friend of mine called and said that she had something that she wanted to play for me. I went over to her high-rise apartment, replete with a beautiful baby grand piano. A couple of songwriter friends of hers were there and I thought that they were going to play and sing something they had just written to get my response. Instead, she went to her phonograph and played the 45 rpm recording of “A White Man’s Heaven is a Black Man’s Hell!”
They watched me and listened to me constantly bearing witness with “That’s right!” “That’s right!” The part that I did not really understand was that “Our God and Saviour, Allah, has come. He has declared the White man’s day is done. He has given to us a Divine Messenger, His Name is Elijah … ” but that whole history lesson before that last part! I was stunned. I asked my friend, Mamie, who had traveled much with Lionel Hampton and who actually wrote the song “Well Alright, Okay, You Win.” She was fighting for the recognition. “Where did that come from? Who had that much guts?”
She said, “You like that?” “Well, you can go up to 116th Street and hear some more.” It turned out that her ex-husband had become a Muslim and had brought the recording to her.
Funny how I had never heard of the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, nor any of the Teachings before that day. I lived in New York City. I lived in the Village. The only reference to Muslims that I had ever heard was when I was in a Catholic elementary school and a school publication made mention of “Mohammadens” who were “infidels.”
I went up to 116th Street that Friday night. Minister Malcolm was returning to the Temple from a trip out of town, which I later learned was often to engage in debates or to visit the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in Chicago. The room was crowded, standing room only. I believe that it was in a three-story walkup. The atmosphere, lecture, and Minister Malcolm were electrifying. That was early 1962. I wrote my Letter, to officially join the Nation, that night and the rest for me is history. I thank Allah (God) for answering my prayer and for teaching me Who He is. I also thank Allah (God) that Minister Farrakhan did not sell the master to “A White Man’s Heaven is a Black Man’s Hell.”
Alverda Ann Muhammad is a longtime follower of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, under the leadership of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. She is also the widow of the late Final Call senior editor Askia Muhammad.