Ernie Suggs, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 16, 2007
In a speech that touched on global warming, environmentalism and Georgia’s drought, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan drew parallels that as the earth withers, so too do black men, who have little to show for 452 years of bondage.
“Politics and the racial environment is threatening the human family,” Farrakhan said. “But black males, in particular, are endangered. Our attitudes, our ignorance, our savagery are all lending to a plan—a conspiracy to make the black man, not endangered, but extinct. . . . If God doesn’t intervene, we will be extinct.”
“God made a call for black men to take a stand. . . . [We] showed up for atonement and reconciliation,” said Ishmael Muhammad, the Nation’s national assistant minister. “We accepted 12 years ago the responsibility to be better men, better fathers and better husbands. It was a day never before experienced in our history.”
Farrakhan spoke for more than two hours in a speech that touched on religion, hip-hop, politics and the perception that some successful blacks are being propped up by whites and refusing to reach back and help poor blacks for fear of losing their status.
He said that includes some members of the civil rights movement who abandoned the movement after Martin Luther King Jr.’s death in order to be accepted by white America.
Farrakhan noted that although successful blacks exist, blacks have the lowest level of health care and are losing what they have at an alarming rate. He said that although Oprah Winfrey is one of the richest women in the world, 37 million people are living in poverty and one-third of them are black. He added that although Barack Obama is a presidential front-runner, blacks continue to lose their right to vote because of voter identification laws.
Speaking about rapper T.I., who is facing federal gun charges, Farrakhan said the charges are less about what he is charged with and more about the fact that his music is influencing white kids, who account for more than 80 percent of the purchases of rap and hip-hop music.
He went on to talk about Atlanta’s other fallen son, Michael Vick.
“I know our brother broke the law. God himself is displeased, because he has given us dominion over his creatures and he doesn’t want us to abuse them for sport,” said Farrakhan, before coming to a near whisper. “But they didn’t have to come down on the brother like that. He is young, black and super rich. And all of those white children were wearing his jersey. White people were losing control of their children to black sports and entertainment figures, and they can’t take it.”
He went on to link Vick’s crimes to global conflicts.
“What is worse?” he asked, comparing dog fighting to war. “To send a recruiter into black and Hispanic neighborhoods to offer you money to come into the armed forces to go to Iraq and Afghanistan for political reasons to kill people?”
The female members of the Nation stood out as well—most wearing stark white garments and headdresses. During one portion of the event, thousands of dollars was raised with the name of each person or group that gave at least $100—including Smooches Sexy Plus Style Boutique—being called. At another point, before Farrakhan spoke, Charles Steele, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, broke the podium in excitement as he talked about how the Nation of Islam leader inspired him.