[Editor’s note: The following are excerpts from a message delivered October 30, 2004 by Minister Farrakhan during the opening session of the reparations NDABA IV held at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.]

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

Each of us has a gift from the Creator that we must offer to the struggle of our people for liberation. Jesus said it so beautifully: “He who would be your leader must be your servant.” Those of us who, for one reason or another, are accepted as leaders must increase our ability to serve. For it is only in serving that which is bigger than we are that we live and never die. That which is bigger than all of us is the liberation, totally, of our people in America, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Africa and the Isles of the Pacific.

Wherever Black people on this planet suffer, our goal should be to see our wounds healed, the damage repaired and all Black people free to bring again to the world what we originally brought, which was the light of knowledge and advanced civilization.


Many of us come with ideas and thoughts to advance the struggle of our people, but sometimes we do not know how to dialogue with another person who also has an idea. Sometimes our egos get caught up in what we wish to propose and sometimes it blinds us to a better idea or proposal that could come from one of our Brothers or Sisters. In the process of dialogue, we must learn to subordinate ourselves to what is best for the whole. That becomes difficult if we are moved by vain expectations.

All of us that worked and struggled in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and are blessed to be alive in the year 2004, know that we do not have as many years in front of us as we have behind us. So, the lessons that we have learned from our struggle should make us know how much we need one another. When you know you have a need for your Brother or Sister in the struggle for our liberation, then we act in a way that facilitates the growth of the union of all of us who are involved in this struggle.

One of the diseases that hinders Black people from success is the malady called envy. It is one of our worst enemies and it masquerades, oft-times, as a friend. It masquerades oft-times as a supporter. It smiles when it does not mean it.

It masquerades a demonic mind that will destroy progress for the sake of destroying an individual who may be carrying the moment. If we have this disease, we need to understand what medication we need to remove it, because that disease has destroyed Black organizations and Black leadership.

The Honorable Marcus Garvey, one of the greatest leaders of our time, knew and was concerned about the future. He was not a man looking only for his own greatness, but he understood that his people were great.

In order for his idea to gradually take root among the people, that idea had to be fed to others who would wrap their being around that idea. Then, when his physical presence was no longer there, the idea that made Marcus Garvey who he was, and is, would live. Jesus could never die as long as the principles on which he built his life were inculcated into his students and disciples.

So, the enemy is always aware of the power of ideas and is always working to reduce great men to silliness in order to obscure the power of their ideas. To highlight Marcus Garvey’s motto or theme, “One God, one aim and one destiny,” without mention of his idea or plan to bring about that one aim, one destiny and one God, is to deliberately distort the value of that man and his ideas.

Even though most of us, as nationalists, did not agree with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—in that we should allow anybody to beat us and we turn the other cheek and don’t do our best to take that person out—the yin and yang between the talk of Brother Malcolm X and the talk of Brother Martin is what produced a dynamic that created movement among our people.

That’s like the dynamic between W.E.B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey, and DuBois and Booker T. Washington. They all had ideas, but time refines these ideas and people grow, not to take this idea or that, but to see the synthesis of things in order to bring these disparate groups into one mighty force that creates movement that cannot be stopped, that lives after individuals with charisma die.

Martin Luther King Jr. was an evolving giant, but to reduce his revolutionary development to “I have a dream” is to kill the idea that was ingrained in Dr. King that he kept evolving toward, where we are today. Dr. King was killed not because he had a dream, but because he opposed the war in Vietnam and saw the hypocrisy of those saying to Black people that we should be non-violent toward White people and then let them send us to be violent in Vietnam against a people who did not do anything to us. When he started to use his celebrity—which they created for him—to work against their ideas, then they decided that he had to be killed.

During the ’60s, there was an idea that united us, when we stopped using the term “Negro” and began to see ourselves as Black people. In 1955, in Bandung, Indonesia, Sukarno called an Afro-Asian meeting of all people of color. No White people were invited to that meeting. Adam Clayton Powell, a very, very light-skinned Brother, and a warrior, was invited to represent Black people at the Bandung Conference.

Right after that conference, Blackness began to unite our struggle all over the world. Although many of us may not see the value of language in conveying ideas, the enemy knows that, if you shift your language, you may shift your focus, then he can re-divide what had been united.

We saw ourselves as Black, not Georgian, Mississippian, New Yorkers, but Black people catching hell in America. When we saw our Brothers from Haiti who were victimized by the French, so he had a French name and a French language; or we saw our Brothers in Santo Domingo speaking Spanish, we knew they were Black and our Brothers, even though they spoke Spanish, French, Dutch, or another European language. Our Blackness made us one people. There are 80 million Black people in Brazil who speak Portuguese, but we would not let the language or culture of European colonizers divide us.

So, all of Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the Isles of the Pacific was ours. We saw ourselves not as a minority, but we outnumbered White people when we thought of ourselves as Black people first. We outnumbered them 11 to one on our planet. They became the minority and we were the majority, uniting for our liberation.

Now, Martin is gone, Malcolm is gone, Elijah is gone, and a shift comes in language. In Baltimore, there was a television show called “Black Star.” In New York, there was “Black News.” There was “Black Journal.” In every city in America, there was a TV show with the adjective “Black” describing some aspect of that show, but all of a sudden when the leadership was gone, their ranks became confused and the Civil Rights Movement integrated Black people into a system that was diametrically opposed to what we really need.

While we were celebrating being allowed to go into White hotels, motels and restaurants, we began losing what we had built as a result of segregation. Not only were we losing economically, we were losing the struggle, due to shifting language. When Dr. King was assassinated and 100 cities were set on fire, the enemy asked, “Who led this? Somebody must have led these Negroes for them to burn 100 cities. Who gave the order?” What they recognized, watching the nightly news every night, was that we were becoming a Nation without ever realizing what constitutes a nation.

Nations start with similar attitudes, out of which comes a system of belief. Out of that system of belief comes ideology, then a national community evolves out of that. But what was shaping our attitude? We all had a common attitude toward the government and racist police, because we saw them beating us down on television. Every night, we saw the fire hoses and the dogs set against Black people. We saw our people being beat down, so we had an automatic attitude toward White people. We knew in the ’60s who our enemy was, but today we don’t know that anymore.

There was a shift in language. They said, “It’s television that’s uniting these Negroes. Let’s see if we can shift this.” So, “Black Journal,” a national TV show, became “Tony’s Journal” and “Black” was dropped. “Black Star” and “Black News” were dropped. Black people were not talking “Black” anymore; we became the minority, the disadvantaged, then African Americans.

When you become an African American, how does that connect you to your African brother in Haiti, or your people in Grenada, Trinidad or Panama? The shift in language began to deteriorate the spirit that made us see ourselves as one dynamic people, suffering from a common enemy who inflicted us with a common disease. We must come back to the mindset that we had in the ’60s that was broken through the misuse of language.

They use people who we admire to introduce concepts that take us away from ourselves. They bring our scholars into universities like this one and, in order to get tenure, our scholars have to sacrifice something of the struggle of our ancestors for a dollar and to be recognized by the enemy as somebody of value. So, our leaders are all scattered now, wanting to be near to the enemy, and have a little money and security, while our people are in the valley of the shadow of death, going to hell in a rocketship.

So, the ndaba is important. There’s nothing more important than what these Brothers have called together. This is bigger than all of us in the room. It’s about getting our people back on course. It’s about taking the confusion out of language and speaking straight words, so that our people understand that the struggle is not over, because our young people are being separated from the struggle of their elders.

We must see ourselves as a nation within a nation—a nation that must not depend on a Kerry winning an election or a Bush being re-elected. Whoever is in office, our condition will not improve for the masses of our people unless we, as a unit, say that we are tired of what we are suffering and make a move to unite all of our people with an idea that will live after we are dead. And there is no idea bigger than the idea of freedom, justice, equality, truth and peace. The repair of our people is a must.

Scriptures say, “Envy is more cruel than the grave.” Once the spirit leaves the body and you put that body in a grave, worms begin to eat away the flesh. After a while, there’s nothing left but the bones, and the person becomes unrecognizable. You have to use forensic science to find out who it is. That’s what happens when we envy one another. We deteriorate and rot from within.

Do you know what makes us get rid of envy? When we know that each one of us has been gifted with a gift from a Mighty Creator and none of us are in this room without something special to offer. None of us are alive on this planet without a gift that marks and separates us from the next person, but not separates us in the sense that we are divided, but separates us in that each of us is unique.

As Muslims, we say, “Say He, Allah, is One.” He’s One, unique, incomparable, and so are you. There are no two snowflakes alike, no two raindrops alike, no two blades of grass alike. Your fingerprints, footprints and voiceprints are all different from your Brother’s and Sister’s. Each one of us has never been before and will never be again. That’s the infinite wisdom of a Mighty Creator.

So, when I look at you and you look at me, we are looking at individuals that there’s no one like, never was before, and won’t be again. This is our moment in time to unite our uniqueness and pass on to a succeeding generation the legacy of what we, in our uniqueness and our recognition of each other’s greatness, have accomplished in the long march toward total liberation.