Reflecting on the historic Black Family Day gathering, 50 years later

The year was 1974. Coleman Young was sworn in as Detroit’s first Black mayor, “Lucy” an almost complete human skeleton over three million years old was discovered in Africa and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan who served as the minister of Temple..

No. 7 in Harlem, New York for the Nation of Islam, called for a Black Family Day Bazaar on Randall’s Island. The gathering was held on May 27 and 50 years after this phenomenal show of unity and solidarity, it is still remembered for its impact.

“The Minister’s desire was to use the Black Family Day to get our people together and talk about the strength in the family. He invited people from all across the country to be a part of it,” Minister Abdul Akbar Muhammad, International Representative for the Nation of Islam told The Final Call.

The plans and foundation for Black Family Day started one year earlier. “Our beloved Minister Farrakhan witnessed a Black and a Puerto Rican brother having an argument and them not knowing that they are of the same family of the Original nation,” Student Minister Abdul Salaam Muhammad, the Nation of Islam’s archivist, told The Final Call.


Minister Farrakhan desired to call various members of the Black and Original people and family together to hear a message from him on behalf of his teacher, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Student Min. Abdul Salaam explained.

In September of 1973, the believers went to Randall’s Island for a “Rally for Muhammad” event, which attracted around 14,000 people, he explained.

That event laid the foundation for the Black Family Day gathering held on May 27, 1974. It was a star-studded event with entertainers including Billy Paul, Jimmy Cliff (King of Reggae), the Delfonics, Celia Cruz (Queen of Salsa), Machito and his orchestra and many more.

Heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali told the growing audience that his success was due to being a follower of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

The 1974 event returned to the 22,000-capacity Downing Stadium, on Randall’s Island. The day included a bazaar featuring all types of Black businesses, services and delicious healthy Muslim food. It was the culmination of years in the streets by the Muslims building goodwill and spreading the teachings of Islam as taught by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

The platform reflected the fruits of that work with city dignitaries, scholars, educators, scientists and UN ambassadors representing China, Barbados, Indonesia, Jamaica and the Palestine Liberation Movement in attendance.

Minister Farrakhan’s sister-in-law, Medina Farrakhan was a wife, mother and lieutenant in the Muslim Girls Training and General Civilization Class (M.G.T. and G.C.C.) under the illustrious Sister Captain Ameenah Rasul, trained by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad to work with the women who were interested in Islam.

“I was quite busy that day with checking in people, making sure things went correctly, following instructions, making things happen, on the sister’s side and working with all of the other sister lieutenants and Sister Ameenah Rasul,” Sister Medina told The Final Call.

She watched as the crowd began to swell.

“We expected a huge crowd but none of us could say that it would be 70,000. I don’t think we really expected that amount. The stadium was huge, and we all expected to fill the stadium. When we were told that it was 70,000 people there, we were all very elated, very happy.

The work that we did to secure and, maintain order was definitely worth every minute of the day. We were there early—early before people got in, and we were there late after the people left,” she said.

The plan was to drive Minister Farrakhan to the stadium.

“I received reports that the crowd was so large that the brothers would not be able to drive him to the venue. We had to fly him in,” said Minister Abdul Akbar Muhammad. “I went downtown to make the arrangements. I had to contact the city to get a special permit for a helicopter to take him to Randall’s Island.”

Minister Farrakhan landed on Randall’s Island with a special message for the audience. “A very serious day for the Black man and woman in America is on the horizon. And this is why we have called this a Black Family Day.

Unless the Black people in America—we feel that sense of family, the spirit of family, brothers and sisters, old and young, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, feel that spirit of brotherhood and family—all of us will suffer a great catastrophe in the next few years,” the Minister told the crowd.

“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad wants you and me to know and understand that every Black brother and sister is flesh of each other’s flesh and blood of each other’s blood and bone of each other’s bones. I don’t care where you come from, brother. If you come from Georgia, if you come from Mississippi, if you come from Louisiana, or Tennessee, New York state or California, all of us are brothers.

If you come from Trinidad, if you come from Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Panama or Guatemala, all of us, wherever you find us, we are brothers.”

The entire day was also momentous for those in the crowd. “It is a part of history that would be left out if people didn’t take the time to go over it. People mark time by this event, and what it meant to so many people who made it happen.

People remember where they were and what they were doing that day. They remember their birthdays and other special events based on that day and leading up to it,” said Minister Akbar.

“The day was really touching, to see all those people come together and show the unity and the love for each other. The entertainers donated their time. They helped to bring the crowd. They were moved by our efforts.

We had people there that normally were not involved with the Muslims. Black Family Day changed that,” he reflected. A few months later in September, a follow-up Black Family Day gathering was held that drew nearly 40,000 people.

Minister Farrakhan’s speech from Black Family Day, May 27, 1974, can be found on several social media sites and is available to order at The comments from listeners who have listened online to his message from that day also reflect the impact of his words. Some shared their thoughts on social media:

@london_miss234 posted, “I’m glad my father took me and my sister to the 1974 Family Day. When I was young, my father brought home the Final Call (Muhammad Speaks). We weren’t Muslim. My parents married in The Church of England. And our family in Jamaica is Roman Catholic.

@brucebryant1486 posted, “I Was There, In 1974 (Age 18)., My Son’s Mother Queen Susan Mariam, Was Muslim., And By Divine Mercy And Divine Grace. Introduced Me To Al-Islam In North America…”

And, @benefitsconsultingservices8718 posted, “I was there that day I will never forget it I was 17 yrs old.”

—Nisa Islam Muhammad, Staff Writer