Black people must count on their own efforts and cannot rely on help from whites to solve their problems, Minister Louis Farrakhan said Saturday.
The head of the Nation of Islam spoke for two and a half hours before a rapt audience of more than 350 people at Savannah State University.
Wearing a crisp gray suit, Farrakhan issued a challenge to the sponsor of his address, the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials.
Other themes he repeatedly revisited were the mind-numbing impact of drugs, the influence of gansta rap, the destruction of black families and black-on-black violence.
“And the madness continues,” Farrakhan said. “And mothers (are) bringing their babies to their final resting places.”
Turning to an even more ominous theme, he said gang violence plays into the hands of the CIA and other government agencies that fear minorities will eventually become the majority and “take over.”
Farrakhan said such agencies are using drugs, guns and gansta rap to induce black young males to kill each other and to fight Hispanic youths.
“I call it social engineering,” he said.
He said there is a plan to round up all the “gang bangers” and lock them up in detention camps.
“In every major city,” Farrakhan added, “there has been highway construction going on so tanks can roll on what are called ‘defense highways’ and come into the inner cities . . . You are no match for the arms you are going to face.”
Before Farrakhan spoke, members of the audience were patted down for weapons. During his speech, dozens of guards, many wearing tuxedos and bow ties, stood stiffly near him and at each side of the auditorium.
Reaction to the speech was overwhelmingly upbeat.
“He was right on target,” said state Sen. Regina Thomas, D-Savannah. “He was saying that we don’t have time for excuses. We have to take responsibility; we have to be pro-active.”
Similarly, Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson, said Farrakhan “spoke the truth” and State Rep. Bob Bryant, D-Garden City, said the speaker offered “a good positive message.”
Likewise, former state Rep. Mickey Stephens said Farrakhan “was telling it like it is.”
Even Farrakhan’s talk of “social engineering” rang true with many listeners.
“I’ve always believed in a conspiracy,” Thomas said. “If you look at how things work in the legislature, everything is planned in advance.”
State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, president of Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, said many civil rights leaders think law enforcement agencies have used drugs and guns to stir up trouble among young black males.
“Some white people are fearful that the minorities will eventually become majorities,” he said.
“Let’s put it this way,” said Johnson. “In the black communities, we don’t have any gun factories. We don’t have any drug factories.”
Of those interviewed, Bryant came closest to expressing skepticism.
“I don’t tend to think that drastically about it,” he said. “I don’t really have an opinion.”