Saturday, 21 February 2009

Malcolm X in the eyes of Louis Farrakhan

Louis Farrakhan (1933-) is now seventy-five years old, for fifty of his seven decades of existence he has been an active adherent of the Nation of Islam (NOI) and been the leader since 1977.

Raised of West Indian parentage with a strict mother and no father in the USA, Louis Walcott (as he was before he entered the NOI) joined the choir, became a violinist and later emerged as a successful singer and nightclub calypso entertainer known as the ‘Charmer’ by 1953.

Walcott’s talents were recognised and rewarded with a star appearance in the ‘Ted Mack Amateur Hour’ the same year.

It was in 1955, a friend told him about the Nation of Islam, then a virtually unknown black cult to most black Americans. He attended the talk with his then pregnant girlfriend and some marijuana (which he had to dispose of before entering) with understandable reservations.

He joined the Nation in 1956, then aged twenty-three and still single. Under the tutelage of Malcolm X, Walcott underwent a tremendous transformation. First, he dropped the slave name, ‘Walcott’ for the more acceptable name or symbol of X, then Elijah Muhammad awarded him another name, ‘Farrakhan’, a name he has to this day.

‘Farr’ is meant to signify he is far away from the teachings and honour of True Islam and ‘Khan’ shows he is a great man himself.

Farrakhan soon became a Fruit of Islam captain and later a junior minister of the Boston Temple (In 1961 all Temples were renamed Mosques), one of the few at the time with a college education.

Farrakhan became a senior student of Malcolm X and it is said they became like brothers to one another, Malcolm X helped Farrakhan and his family in more ways than one and in return was later repaid less kindly.

By 1959 after the production of ‘The Hate that Hate Produced’ a programme that first showed the Nation of Islam to most of the United States, Farrakhan was a senior member and one of the cult’s most famous and successful members.

In 1963 Malcolm X was suspended from the Nation of Islam ‘indefinately’, but was never allowed to return. Farrakhan turned on his former mentor with vengeance and hatred openly passing death threats and calling for God’s wrath against him and continued on this path until 1993.

Farrakhan replaced Malcolm X as both National Minister and New York Minister in 1964-65 and served on this role until 1975, when Elijah Muhammad passed away.

In 1975 following the death of Elijah Muhammad, Warith Deen Mohammed, assumed office as Supreme Minister, and stripped Farrakhan of his official rank and ministry. He even gave him a new name, Abdul Haleem Farrakhan.

Farrakhan’s history came back to haunt him in those years, Malcolm X, his former mentor was now ‘a prophet’ and a Mosque was renamed in honour of him. Twelve years of hatred had now been washed away almost in an instant.

Farrakhan served out his role with regret and disappointment until 1977 when he decided to revamp the old and now defunct Nation of Islam as Warith Deen had since altered both the name and the official doctrines.

Farrakhan altered the Nation almost as soon as he took over. In 1983-84 he allowed followers to vote, supported a black candidate for President (Jesse Jackson), made a female member the first woman minister (Ava Muhammad, a district attorney) and even visited the White House (as a Jesse Jackson entourage member).

In 1986 he announced all of the United States now knew the message of the Nation of Islam and that aspect of his mission was finished. In 1995 in memory of the March to Washington in 1963 he organised the Million Man March, where less than a million people participated, 60% of whom were Christians. Things have slowed down since the 1980s although Farrakhan is still very much in control of the NOI.

This article is a collection of statements, messages, excerpts of speeches given by Louis Farrakhan on his former mentor, Malcolm X. The file contains only those reflections that are not negative, full of hate or malice and do not contain defamatory remarks.

‘Brother Minister Malcolm X, he became my mentor. He was one of the finest examples that I could have ever had in my beginning days in Islam. I never heard him curse. He was never late for an appointment.

When I would sleep in his house, he would wake me up at 5 a.m. for Fajr prayer. He was an exceedingly disciplined man…Even though Malcolm X did not go beyond the 8th grade, he had genius sitting in his breast—as genius is in the breast of our people.

They just need to be quickened to life. When Malcolm awakened, he began reading everything in the library worth reading, starting with the dictionary, from cover to cover.

Whenever I would sit to be taught by Brother Malcolm, he always broke words down into their meanings; he understood the root of words. He knew that, through words, you can either get tricked or you can be free.

The first book he put in my hands was "100 Amazing Facts about the Negro" by J.A. Rogers; then "100 Years of Lynching," then "17 Million Negroes, 17 Million Dollars." I had to read all of those books, study my Lessons. Then, I had to read another book by J.A. Rogers, "From Superman to man." Then, I had to study world history, under his direction. Then, he gave me the Holy Qur’an, the first one that I had ever owned’ (Louis Farrakhan, Final Call Sept 27th 2005)

‘It is not enough to praise Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Nat Turner, Nobel Drew Ali or any of our brave Freedom Fighters. What we must do is take the principles that they lived and died on and be willing to sacrifice to see the end for which they lived and died. Then, and only then, will our living not be in vain and their sacrifice not have been in vain’.
(Louis Farrakhan, The Final Call, ‘Sacrifice: The noble price paid for freedom’ October 12, 1980)

‘Brother Malcolm X said, “Cats can have kittens in an oven, but that does not make them biscuits.” If you do not have the rights, privileges and guarantees of an American citizen, then you have to ask yourself, who you are fighting for, why are you fighting, and why are you dying? Are you really an American?’
(Operational Unity and Grassroots Organizing, July 14 at the Metropolitan Spiritual Church in Kansas City)

‘the desire of the wicked is to harm me and to destroy the idea that I carry, so that Black people and all who listen cannot and will not make the type of progress that time demands. This is no different from the desire of the wicked to destroy Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, Marcus Garvey, Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Denmark Vesey, and all who have stood on behalf of the poor and rejected’. (America on the Brink of Anarchy 1993 in Torchlight of America)

‘Malcolm X only went to the 8th grade of school; he never went to high school or college. I went with him to Harvard, Yale and to the finest institutions where he debated the best minds that this country could produce—and he whipped them all, hands down, because he was a critical thinker’.
(Passing the torch, the revival of youth activism and leadership, Oct. 24th 2004)

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