[Editor’s note: The following message was delivered by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan during the funeral mass held for Brother Renault Robinson, co-founder of the Afro-American Patrolman’s League, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, at St. Sabina Church in Chicago, Illinois.]
In The Name of Allah, The One God to Whom all praise is due, The Lord of all the worlds. We thank Him for His prophets and messengers and the scriptures which they brought. I am a student of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and I could never thank Allah enough for His merciful intervention in our affairs, giving to us a noble man to do a noble work of rising Black men and women up from the terrible condition that 400 years of slavery and suffering placed us in.
I am so honored to be home again in my home away from home with my brother, Father Pfleger. And this house, that has always made me welcome, brings me back to honor my brother, a dear friend, our brother Renault Robinson.
I greet all of you with the greeting words of peace; we say it in the Arabic language: As-Salaam Alaikum. And this greeting is the greeting that Jesus gave to his disciples. He never said, “How you doing? What’s happening?”; or “Good morning,” because every morning is not good, every evening is not good. And when death enters into our lives, it brings us deep sorrow and pain. So the greeting word of “peace” is the most appropriate greeting, especially in a time like this.
How, in a troubled world like this, can we have peace? The scriptures teach us that “peace” is attained by the recognition of God’s will, and as a “servant of God,” to submit our will to do God’s will. Jesus was at peace with God. And even though he was evil spoken of, and hated without a cause, he was at peace because he had submitted his life to doing the will of his Father.
God is The Author of life, and He is The Ultimate Cause of death. None of us can come this way without acknowledging the law of birth, which renders us all equal. Nobody comes to birth speaking a language, we come to birth making a sound. Every mother knows the sound of its child… And we have a common sound when we leave the earth; it is the letting go of the breath of life.
It is while we are alive that we don’t have that kind of equality, that kind of liberty, that kind of justice. So this brings to life a man named Renault Robinson, born of his beautiful mother and father, his beautiful family.
A warrior whose work strengthened bonds of brotherhood
Renault was a warrior. He didn’t come into the world to bow to the world, he came into the world to make a change in that world! And he joined a group that have made life miserable for our people: He became a policeman. But he was not going to be a part of making his people miserable; so the man that I know, the man that I met, the man that I fell in love with was the head of the Afro-American Patrolman’s League, which he, and others, brought into being.
I was a young minister in New York; I had a reputation of being a fiery speaker and all, and Renault reached out to me and asked me to visit Chicago because the Afro-American Policeman’s League was holding a convention. And I came to that convention and spoke at that convention. And many that were Black patrolmen, we had a bond, and that bond saved my life.
When I decided to rebuild the work of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and I came to Chicago, I met so many wonderful people that helped me in my journey. And when I came, I asked Lu and Georgia Palmer, I am sure you know of them; I asked them, “Could you take me around and introduce me to the movers and the shakers in Chicago?” And Lu and Georgia said, “Yes.”
I visited Mr. Sengstacke, and I asked for his blessings. What man come in another man’s city to do a work, and goes and visits the people who are already working, and asks them for their blessings? Mr. Sengstacke gave me his blessings; offered me a column in the paper, and I started writing our intention to rebuild the work of Elijah Muhammad.
I was taken to Ebony and Jet, and I met Mr. Johnson, and I asked for his blessings. He gave it to me with a smile. And I went to meet my brother reverend, Father George Clements, and he gave me his blessing. And while he was blessing me, there was a man with him who is blessing me today, Father Michael Pfleger.
I made a few friends, and one of them was Reynaldo Glover, who became a big man in education in Chicago. But in trying to rebuild Elijah Muhammad’s work, that was dangerous; because everybody wasn’t happy to see Elijah Muhammad come back. But he was my Teacher; the best friend that I have next to God was Elijah Muhammad. So, I started work with the blessings of these men.
I called a few preachers; and one of them just wouldn’t even see me at all. He has gone on, now. I guess he sees better. … But you know, righteousness, and the love of God, is the way of life that God intended. He intended for us to live the life that He gave us, as a social being to have friendship in all walk of life.
Brother Renault assured protection during The Nation’s re-growth
Reynaldo Glover knew that there were threats on my life, and he was a big lawyer downtown; and the former governor, Mr. Ogilvie, was the head of the law firm that Mr. Glover was in, and I went to meet Mr. Ogilvie at Brother Reynaldo’s invitation. Mr. Ogilvie, when he heard that there were threats on my life, his advice to me was: “Stay in the public, Louis. Keep on teaching what you teach, Louis.”
And I thanked him for his guidance. But then I thought of my teacher, who is such a skillful teacher: He could drop a seed in your mind, and at the proper time it would bear fruit. One day we were together, and he said: “You know, when a seed germinates in the earth, it sends a root down before it sends a chute up.”
So he was telling me something; that if you really want to rebuild this work, don’t go out there doing a lot of talking (“You better go send a root down before the chute comes up”). And I followed his advice for seven years. I wouldn’t take any interviews, I just kept working, slowly, quietly. So when we finally surfaced seven years later, the root was so firmly rooted in the ground.
The chute was young, but it was strong; the enemies of my Teacher couldn’t pull this thing up. And the man that made it possible for me to get started was the man that we honor here today, Renault Robinson.
I want you to know that before I had all these young men around me, there was nobody. I would teach in one city and Renault would call; the Patrolman’s League would come out. And before you knew it, The Minister was teaching here, teaching there, and the followers and adherents to the doctrine of the Afro-American Policeman’s League became my protectors.
So, when they knew Farrakhan was in town, there wasn’t anyone that was going to take no life of mine! And because of that, I am here today with soldiers all over the world, because Renault, and Howard Saffold, made it possible for me.
Show gratitude by living your life with purpose
In closing, God does not like ingratitude. When somebody does something for you that helps you to be more than you could have been or would have been without that help, don’t get so big that you forget the people that helped you along the way. And Harold Saffold and Renault Robinson gave me the type of protection that made the enemy say: “Well, we better leave that young man alone!” And I thank God for Renault, and I thank him for his family, his dear wife.
Mrs. Robinson, I think you were married in 1960? I beat you by a few years. This September, if I live, my Wife and I shall have been married for 70 years. And if I look halfway good, it’s because she took good care of me, like Mrs. Robinson took good care of Renault.
So to all of the family, rejoice. Don’t be sad. Lift up your head! Because Renault did what God brought him here to do. And when he left us, he went back to Him Who sent him here in the first place. So he is with The Creator. But he left you, and me, and us, so he would ask us: “What are you gonna do?
I’ve done my job! You met me as a worker. You met me as a warrior. You met me fighting for liberty and justice in a corrupt police department”—that is not too far away from that spirit of corruption today.
“What are you going to do with the life and the time that God has given to you?” We have to give an account for the life that we have, and how we lived it. And if you will live your life like Renault did, in service to others, that’s a big life. That’s why the church is packed today, because he was a man that served us. And each one of us know why we are here at his homegoing.
Although he has gone home, but we’ve got a home to go to as well. So let’s learn from him. Let’s keep his mind and his memory alive in us! And remember that he started the Patrolman’s League from just himself and a few more.
And you know what? They hated what he did. Did you hear me? They would poison the new officers coming in so that they would not become a part of what the elders had sacrificed to bring into being. If you can’t take people disliking you without a cause, you can’t work this work; you can’t help raise Black people up, because we are very difficult to raise up.
That’s like going to the cemetery, asking somebody long dead: “Can you get up? I know it’s ‘Amazing Grace’ time, but let me see if you can get up.” But Jesus knew how to resurrect the dead.
“Dead people”: I’m not talking about those in the cemetery. I’m talking about dead people who’ve got eyes but can’t see, ears that can’t hear; a tongue, but can’t speak; lame, with two good legs.
Renault tried to put some “legs” under us. Renault tried to give us eyes to see better, ears to hear better, tongues to speak better. Be like him. Make him an example to this family. This is a family not different from Renault. You come from him! So the same spirit that’s in him is also in you. Wake it up!
If it’s struggling, wake it up and know that life is full of struggle. And if you don’t want to struggle, you don’t want to live. But if you are willing to struggle, God has created us to struggle; and it is only through struggle that what God has placed within can come out.
May God bless you, dear family. May God bless the mother, the wife, the children, the grandchildren, and great-grands. I’ve got a lot of that, too! You’ve been around 90 years, and you have not fallen asleep on the job. (Smile) I’ve got so many grandchildren, I have to stop and learn how to count again; and then great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.
Keep his name alive! Keep his spirit alive! Keep the good that he tried to teach you as family, keep it alive, and you will make a difference in Chicago or wherever you are.
Thank you for allowing me these few minutes. As-Salaam Alaikum!