In eight months, Minister Louis Farrakhan will be 80 years of age, but he showed no sign of slowing down when he recently completed a fast sweep of six of New York City’s Black neighborhoods, plus stops in New Rochelle and Mt. Vernon. A highlight of his visit was when he made a surprise appearance before hundreds in the plaza of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building in Harlem.
In June, Farrakhan directed the Nation of Islam’s ministers to go into the streets of their cities and towns as a result of the rising gun violence plaguing Black communities. Minister Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, Farrakhan’s New York representative, responded with a weekly mobilization of the Fruit of Islam, visiting various sites of shootings, and it was these same areas that produced large crowds for the Muslim leader’s recent unannounced appearances.
In Mt. Vernon, church congregations and their pastors filled the outdoor theater area of the Dole Center as the Muslim leader quoted scriptures, showing where Black Americans appear in prophecy and the higher role they are to play on the world stage. He commanded ministers and imams to go into the streets as Jesus did. “Jesus never built a church, a synagogue, a mosque; he was found in the streets teaching the people,” Farrakhan stated as the crowd agreed with a chorus of amens.
In the Bronx, he addressed the Zulu Nation and the Five Percenters, pointing out that their knowledge and experience is needed by the younger generations. “You have a heavy responsibility on you,” he told Afrika Bambaataa, a Zulu organizer. “The people need to know who you are. You old soldiers can’t quit on the job, because the job isn’t finished.” Farrakhan complimented the Five Percenters on their command of the Nation of Islam’s lesson book and cautioned them that their actions must reflect the supreme knowledge they embrace.
The general media has strained to keep Farrakhan invisible to the public while portraying him as controversial and an anti-Semite, but the outpouring of Black residents almost overwhelmed the Fruit of Islam security escorting him. Phillip Muhammad described the throngs of people who materialized for Farrakhan at Brooklyn’s Fulton Street and Nostrand Avenue on Monday, Sept. 24, as a “miniature Million Man March” in terms of the huge crowd’s orderliness and attentiveness to his message.
“They thanked us for protecting our minister,” Muhammad said. “They were happy as the minister assured them of his love for them. People had tears in their eyes.”
In Brownsville/East New York at the Van Dyke projects, Farrakhan told the elders that they “must think outside the box in order to reach Black youth. The slave master controls the box; we have to be creative and sincere in approaching our youth. We have to collectively own businesses in order to employ our young.”
In Harlem’s Rucker Park on Tuesday, Sept. 25, the minister’s message to the youth gangs was that the “enemy of Black people wants confusion among us. We’re like tribes, but God created us from a single essence. That essence is from Him; so at your root, you are one with God. The enemy wants to take branches of the tree and make us think we’re all different. We’re being socially engineered into hating one another. That’s not the work of God, but the work of Satan.”
At 125th Street’s State Office Building, the crowd included people who had followed him from each speaking engagement. Denise Saddler of Brooklyn said, “It’s all about prophecy and being told of our rightful role for world leadership. I saw him in Brooklyn; it was an invigorating sight to see the people’s joy at his appearance. I saw bus drivers transfixed as they passed the crowd listening to the minister.”
Harold Muhammad, of the Fruit of Islam, said that as he accompanied the minister from venue to venue, he and others “vibed” off of the minister’s energy. “His presence takes you to a higher level of commitment.” And this is what the 125th Street crowd of several hundred people projected to the minister, who had spent a decade as the voice heard live over WLIB each Sunday from Mosque No. 7 before relocating to Chicago in 1975. His appearance in front of the building was his first since a Harlem Week celebration in the 1980s.
“Jesus was a warrior, not a soft man. He was in the streets teaching. Our reverends must stop walking by the downtrodden,” he warned. “We must pray for one another and stop preying on one another.”
David Manigault, an onlooker, said he was happy and proud that Farrakhan spoke positively about Malcolm X as one he learned from. “We need more people with the teaching of Elijah; most of all, we must stop killing one another,” he said.