Farrakhan: Get into unity (38477)

“I am in the streets because the people are in the streets suffering, and I will stay in the streets until we have addressed the issue of violence,” Minister Louis Farrakhan told the Amsterdam News as he walked down 125th Street casually on Tuesday, Sept. 26. “We want to have peace for our people. Our young people are faced with violence and we want to save our children.”

Over a two-day time period, with an “I’m walking among you to show that I love you” philosophy, Farrakhan left the convoy of black Suburbans and police escorts. He then visited with regular New Yorkers and folks across the Hudson to set the message that there needs to be a return to morality and accountability, which would serve the entire community better than what is being witnessed now.

The impromptu visit to Harlem’s busiest thoroughfare capped the early weekday visit to the area. The head of the Nation of Islam has spent weeks visiting neighborhoods ravaged by gun violence and economic disparity nationwide. In the region from Monday, Farrakhan and his entourage of suited Fruit of Islam vanguard journeyed from New Rochelle to Newark, making made pit stops in Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, Queensbridge and the Bronx. There, he was greeted by excited throngs anxious to greet him and hear his solutions to the burgeoning issues in the inner city. From housing developments in Chicago to the infamous Rucker Park in Harlem, Farrakhan has made a mission of putting Nation of Islam boots on the ground and talking with the people.

“The violence that we are doing to one another is a part of an engineering scheme.” Farrakhan observed. “A lot of the gangs don’t even know why they’re killing one another, it’s now a culture. See, but you’re killing each other because of the ignorance of the mind the enemy is manipulating.”

A hastily assembled crowd gathered in front of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building on 125th Street on Tuesday to hear the minister chastise the community for turning on one another and putting the dollar before life itself. Unfolding a crumpled dollar bill, the minister asked, when did that piece of devalued paper become something to spill blood over in the Black community?

“Sometimes if [police] see you with a gun, they’ll just shoot you, and say; ‘What the heck, I just killed me another savage, a nigger,’ and think nothing of it. But, you’re just as cold too. You shoot your brother down and if he don’t look like he’s dying fast enough, you’ll put 10 more bullets in your brother, not your real enemy!”

He rolled off the names of the neighborhoods he’d just visited–Mt. Vernon, Flatbush, Bed-Stuy and Brownsville–adding, “where there’s a lot of killing going on.”

In typical street corner soapbox tradition, the crowd responded to just about everything this world-renowned speaker said. This–like the others over the course of his return visit to the area–was a mostly Black crowd made up of young and old people of many different ethnic backgrounds and different religions.

Striding across the stage under the shadow of the statue of Adam Clayton Powell, the former head of Harlem’s Mosque No. 7 declared, “I am so happy to be home … where it all began.”

He dropped an abbreviated bio of himself, highlighting its depth perhaps most poignantly with the phrase, “You can’t be a man until you meet a man.” And that man was Brother Malcolm X.

After his murder in 1965, Farrakhan took over as head of Mosque No. 7. He reminisced, “[Even] when the Nation of Islam was strong, crime was bad, but it wasn’t what it is today,” the minister said with several references to how things seem to be going backward.

Noting that he will be 80 in seven months–to much applause and “Allahu akbars”–Farrakhan said, “I’ve been teaching for 57 years and I’m not tired! When I’m dead, I’ll retire, and I’ll still reach out to you from the grave.” Quoting Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” Farrakhan urged everyone to make that definitive change and be that agent of change that the world is waiting for. “We are holding ourselves back. What are we doing today to undo what they did? No message could be any clearer than if you want to make the world a better place, look in the mirror and make that change!”said Farrakhan. Be the solution, not the problem seemed to be the ongoing subtext.

“Pastors, you don’t need to be in the church … imams, you don’t need to be in the mosques–you need to be in the streets.”

He had just come from comforting mothers at Rucker Park who had lost children through gun violence and the Van Dyke Houses in Brownsville, where he urged young people to leave the violent path of destruction.

Black folks neither have factories to manufacture guns, nor planes to fly them into the inner city, and yet they are there in great number–prisons are being built with a Black body in mind, he said. He said he understood the role unemployment played in the scenario. He also slammed the controversial stop-and-frisk policy and urged Black cops to be clear about the dynamics at play.

Farrakhan told the crowd that as the original man, Black folk must always acknowledge that “No matter where we’ve spread, what tribe we belong to–the root of us is the same. Let’s come back to the root and come into that kind of unity that will allow us to correct all of our problems and remove every impediment from the path of our progress.”

When he was not cracking the crowd up with his impression of Mitt Romney’s walk–“That brother sure takes some short steps, don’t he?”–the 79-year-old internationally known leader of the NOI was lambasting folk for not being tighter, more focused, more spiritual and more disciplined. As he prepares for the Oct. 17 anniversary of the Million Man March in Charlotte, N.C., the minister could not be any clearer with his message when he called for the “need to get in unity.”