Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site

 [Editor’s note:  The following article contains a distillation of the hour-long message delivered by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan as Part 33 of his 58-week Lecture Series “The Time and What Must Be Done.”]

Why Tuskegee?  Booker T. Washington had his young students in architecture lay out the plans for Tuskegee Institute; they took the clay land and made bricks and built the buildings.  They were not looking for somebody else to do it for them!  They were learning how to make themselves useful to self, as well as others.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad loved Booker T. Washington!  The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was in love with Tuskegee University; and he said to us he wanted to see Tuskegee returned to those wonderful principles upon which that institute, and now university, was built. 

When I spoke to the students at Tuskegee University on March 22, 2013, I said: “You are more than who you think you are…  Because of ‘who’ you are, you are in danger.  So tonight I want to expose the danger, and by God’s Grace, give you the guidance to be exactly what I said you are: ‘The Seminal Fluid’ of The Kingdom of God.” 


Tuskegee University has received high amounts of government funding for research and experimentation, the most recent being the HeLa, or “immortal cells” (the oldest, most commonly-used human cell line), which are cancer cells used in testing and creating vaccines! 

I said at Tuskegee: “Your former slave masters don’t give you money without another purpose beyond what they tell us!  … You have to remember history to guide you in the way you think!  It’s all right to think that people have ‘changed’—but you cannot go to sleep; you have to watch to see if the change is real.” 

For example, in the 1940s the U.S. government experimented by infecting the people of Guatemala with syphilis and gonorrhea and sexually transmitted diseases!  The government has now acknowledged this; On October 1, 2010, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, apologized in a statement with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding this HeLa experimentation. 

And, brothers and sisters, this is what I’m afraid of; that with the research that is going on in Tuskegee with the HeLa cells, now The Enemy has created genetic weapons that are designed specifically for certain genetic groups—and they are designing different drugs for that same purpose!  Dr. Jonas Salk used the HeLa cells in producing the polio vaccine; but yet, a contaminant was introduced into the vaccine! 

Also, it was this HeLa cell that was the carrier of the cancer that was introduced into “SV40” (an abbreviation for “Simian vacuolating virus 40” or “Simian virus 40,” a polyomavirus that is found in both monkeys and humans) into the polio vaccine; and that’s why the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, in the ’60s, forbad his followers from taking the polio vaccine. 

Now they say that 2,000 pounds of HeLa cells have been produced…  And they’ve gone all over the world!  So instead of these immortal cells being used to curb the rise of cancer, the opposite is true:  Cancer is proliferating all over the world, especially in Third World countries—and especially among the Black man and woman in America.  Is this an “accident”? 

Why, in the scheme of things, was the syphilis experiment “so important”?  Why is the HeLa experiment and research “so important”?  Why, in the scheme of things, was this experiment to start at Tuskegee, in Alabama, where Booker T. Washington established the principles 1.) self-reliance, 2.) self-help, 3.) commerce, 4.) industry; and 5.) agriculture—and where George Washington Carver was? 

And they even told George Washington Carver that he should not marry; that he should not have any children, because these oppressors did not want to see another “Carver” in a future generation that their children would have to contend with!  My question is:  What type of research is this, and how will this research benefit us as a people?

Scientists  took these cells without asking for permission, and have made millions of dollars off of these cells.  And the woman—the Black woman, Henrietta Lacks, from which this immune cell, this great cell was taken—has not received anything, though the world is benefiting from this HeLa cell.

Why Tuskegee?  Well, Tuskegee is like a “manger.”  A manger is like a trough; it’s a feeder that is made of carved stone, wood or metal construction, and is used to hold food for animals, as in a “stable.”  Jesus was born in a manger… 

It is not an accident that such greatness has come out of that little city!  Tuskegee is a “manger,” it’s a place of feeding ground—a “feeding place” for a people that have been made savage; that from such an institute, which is now a university, can come that which will civilize not only the Black man and woman of America, but from it, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad saw “a world institution.”

Land of Our Own and Qualifications

When we dedicated Mosque Maryam, The National Center of The Nation of Islam, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad called it a “Center for the Re-Education and Re-Training of the Black Man and Woman of America.”  Did you know, brothers and sisters, that in 1965, Tuskegee Institute invited the Honorable Elijah Muhammad to speak?

He did not go at that time, so he sent our great brother, Dr. Lonnie Shabazz, now known as Dr. Abdulalim Shabazz, a great educator; and he was received with great love and respect, and honor. 

Read Message To The Blackman in America, Chapter “Land of Our Own and Qualifications,” under the section “The Unity of 22 Million” on pages 220-221.  At that time, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote: 

“At present, we have hundreds of clubs and organizations; thousands of teachers; hundreds of educators, scholars, scientists, technicians, doctors, lawyers, judges, congressmen, ambassadors, professors, tradesmen of all kinds and engineers of most every kind.

We have all kinds of religious believers, teachers, preachers by the thousands, agriculturists, herdsmen and cattlemen and fisherman and hundreds of hunters of wild game. …”  We have all these organizations, all these talented people.  The one thing we don’t have is the unity of the whole.

What actually is preventing this unity of now nearly 50 million of us?  The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said it is “the ignorance and foolish love and fear of our enemies” by the professional and leadership class of our people.  “These are disgraceful ‘Uncle Toms’ in a world of freedom, learning an advanced science in every branch of study. 

How long shall we seek the white men’s education to become their servants instead of becoming builders of a progressive nation of our own on some of this earth that we can call our own?”; so the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, “

By the help of Allah, I have and I will still prove to you that Allah (God) has given me the only solution to our problem here under this race of [enemies].  If you can prove to me”—us—“that you have a better solution for the future of our Nation”—“Black people,” he said, “I will bring my followers and myself and [I will] join you. 

[But] if the solution given to me from Almighty Allah is best”:  Why don’t you come; why don’t you bring your followers?  Why don’t you sit down and let’s agree on a program that will advance us beyond begging for the crumbs that fall from our enemy’s table?

The Great Honorable Marcus Garvey was inspired by Booker T. Washington’s autobiography Up from Slavery; he said, “I read ‘Up from Slavery,’ and then my dream, if I may call it, of being a race leader, dawned.” 

Marcus Garvey was fond of saying, “Up you mighty race, you can accomplish what you will!”; and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad picked up that motto, and said to us: “Up you mighty nation, you can accomplish what you will!”