Posted on March 13, 2006

Gov Finds Self in Race Controversy

Dave McKinney and Chris Fusco, Chicago Sun-Times, March 11, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich faced new criticism Friday for signing a proclamation honoring a Nation of Islam splinter group that advocates black separatism — marking a controversial new turn in the administration’s handling of race relations.

The governor last month designated a special day, Feb. 12, in honor of the Coalition for the Remembrance of Elijah Muhammad, a South Side group that formed in the 1980s and is led by a Chicago cable television personality.

On its Web site, the group, known as C.R.O.E., advocates against mixed-race marriages, says blacks should not be taxed, calls for black children to be taught separately “by their own teachers,” and encourages the creation of a territory within the United States for slave descendants.

“If the white people are truthful about their professed friendship toward the so-called Negro, they can prove it by dividing up America with their slaves,” the site states.

The proclamation’s disclosure follows nearly two weeks of upheaval over Blagojevich’s appointment and support of a Nation of Islam official on a state anti-discrimination panel. Five Jewish members of that panel have quit since March 3 because of her refusal to repudiate a speech by her spiritual leader, Louis Farrakhan, in which he decried “Hollywood Jews” for promoting homosexuality and “other filth.”

The proclamation described C.R.O.E. as “an invaluable institution and an important voice in both the African-American community and among the general public.”

The group is headed by South Holland resident Munir Muhammad, whom Blagojevich appointed to a $39,888-a-year seat on the state Human Rights Commission in May 2003. Muhammad did not return calls to his organization or home.