In a time of political and social wailing and gnashing of teeth, a much different tone echoed through a Robert Treat Hotel meeting room as Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan closed the State of the Black World Conference organized by Dr. Ron Daniels and the Institute for the Black World 21st Century.
Activists and scholars attended the major conference.
The election of Donald J. Trump reflects a time and spirit in America that demands a proper response and that proper response is Black unity and an unyielding spirit of self-determination, said Min. Farrakhan.
“Why would I want to vote for continued rule by my oppressor? We have to vote for freedom from the oppressor,” said Min. Farrakhan. Mr. Trump plans to put “teeth” behind Make America Great again and that means pain for Blacks, he continued.
But beyond the November election of Mr. Trump to occupy the White House for the next four years, the truth is neither Democrats nor the Republicans have served Black interests well, he said. The evil of the White man has led to his utter confusion so why would you want to join that party? asked Min. Farrakhan Nov. 20.
He recited words from his teacher, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who warned against blind faith in American politics and Black politicians willing to sell out the interests of their people for personal benefit. The State of the Black World conference drew an impressive array of Black scholars, thinkers and activists under the theme “It’s Nation Time.” Many were active in the Black Power movement and most embraced Black nationalist, Afrocentric or Pan African philosophies. The conference was dedicated to the late longtime activist and Black Arts movement giant Amiri Baraka, a son of Newark, writer and poet. His son, Ras Baraka, is now mayor, spoke at the conference, and joined the Minister on stage at its close.
The conference was the first major Black gathering since a White voter backlash led to one of the most stunning political upsets in American history. Lifted by White turnout in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the billionaire, bombastic businessman defeated the highly qualified and highly distrusted former Secretary of State and senator Hillary Clinton.
The Minister described President-elect Trump as a wind blowing on the dry bones in the valley, referring to a biblical prophecy that describes the condition of Blacks in America—disunited, unable to collect themselves. But, he added, the scripture says God allowed the winds to blow on the dry bones and then the bones stood up as an exceedingly great army.
Elders listen during State of the Black World conference.
It is time for Blacks to have a nation of their own and to separate from their former slave masters, said Min. Farrakhan. Whites were pressed through civil rights laws, demands to take down the Confederate battle flag and prosecution of those guilty of 60-year-old killings during the civil rights movement, he noted. Whites have had enough, said Min. Farrakhan.
Looking at the president-elect’s cabinet selections, Blacks are going to be pushed out of America, he said. “You don’t want to leave the White man because of the money you got in your pocket and the inference you got in the society but you’ve got to come out of this thing,” said Min. Farrakhan.
There have been 700 hate crimes reported since the election of Mr. Trump and the “onion of White civility has been pulled back,” Whites are angry and unapologetic about asserting themselves, he noted.
We want justice, equal opportunity and membership with the best in civilized society regardless of creed, class or color, he continued. If Whites are unable to deliver these rights under the American flag, we have to seize these rights for ourselves, said Min. Farrakhan. “Either you are free or you a slave masquerading as if you are free,” he said. The audience interrupted his message numerous times with applause, cheers and laughter.
“My message to Mr. Trump: Push it real good. Push it so good that Black people say I’m out of here, I can’t take it no more,” said Min. Farrakhan. “It’s only in our unity that we will have the power to beat back tyranny.”
Blacks should control all of the levers of power, the schools, the politics, the economics, in their communities, the Minister argued.
“On our level as intellectuals and scholars, what are you willing to sacrifice to see the elevation not of yourself but of the mass of our people? It’s going to take sacrifice and there will be pain and there will be suffering. Are you willing to endure it for the elevation of the masses of our people?” he asked.
“You represent the intellectual strength that can put the hands of the unlearned to building, put the feet of the unlearned to walking the pathway of free men and women. What we need now is to take the conference to a table where we develop ministries of service to our people.”
Min. Farrakhan message was applauded as he called for Black self-determination and unity as America becomes more hostile to Blacks. It is time to separate from America, he said. Photos: Andrea Muhammad
He pledged to give $10,000 to $100,000 to the Institute of the Black World to work on creation of ministries to serve Black needs and craft plans for Black development.
We have to rebuild the wasted cities and demand our tax dollars be placed in a national treasury to support the ministries that will serve us, the Minister said.
He thanked Dr. Maulana Karenga, Black scholar and founder of Kwanza, for his presentation and call for Blacks to assert themselves and remake the world.
The Minister paid tribute to the continued struggle for Black freedom by pointing out the suffering of Paul Robeson, a champion for Black justice in the 1930s and 1940s, singers Harry Belafonte, Miriam Makeba and Nina Simone and civil rights stalwarts like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and Dr. W.E.B. Dubois, Muhammad Ali and others. Black youth have to be taught the history of struggle to recognize and respect those who forged the way, he said.
And, Min. Farrakhan said, Blacks must unite with the Latino and Native Americans in America and the darker peoples of the earth. Even Whites will want to join us when a system of justice is set up, he said.
“We’re not going to get free without fighting,” said Min. Farrakhan. “Some of us have to die that others may live. Don’t be afraid of death.”
“I felt unified, I felt inspired I felt awake, this is something that I believe is going to make a huge difference,” said Mary Brown, a singer and song writer from New Jersey. “The Minister’s words to me brought life and it woke us all up. It’s not about religion, it’s about us unifying. And like he said ‘push’—and while that push is pushing us out, it’s pushing us together,” she said. Her hope is for planning to move forward. She has been working on a plan to revive Black culture over the last 2-3 months. The Minister’s words confirmed her thoughts. “I’m excited for us leaders to sit down at the table and plan something for the future,” said Ms. Brown, who said she has worked with Michael Jackson, Sean Puffy Combs, Mary J. Blige, Jaheim and Beyoncé.
The conference tone was great and those who thought it would be commiserating about Mr. Trump were wrong, she said. “You should have been here, it’s exactly what we needed,” said Ms. Brown.
Jackson X, the student minister for Muhammad Mosque No. 25 in Newark, and the Muslims worked with Dr. Daniels to make the conference a success. “The timing was perfect, it was beautiful,” he said. Dr. Daniels wanted a conference that was more than empty rhetoric and would allow substantive work afterward, Jackson X explained. The Minister’s message did that, he said. A strong focus on solutions was apparent at the diverse conference on a range of subjects—ranging from spirituality, cultural empowerment, business education—and included great Black thinkers. It dealt with the challenges and overcoming challenges, said the Newark student minister for the Nation of Islam. “It’s really time for us to separate,” he said.
The MGT Vanguard thrilled the audience with an exciting drill exhibition before Min. Farrakhan spoke at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark.
Elijah Miles, 21, came up to the conference from Baltimore, Md. He enjoyed the intergenerational connections, unity and focus on solutions. Young activists have already met and decided how they will move forward post-conference, he said.
“There is a lot of Black people out in the communities that’s like, ‘what are Black people going to do?’ But here it’s like they have confidence in their plans that we’ve been doing the work before this conference so we’re going to continue to do that work and catch more steam because of the election,” he said. The elders are not afraid for the future so why should I be? asked Mr. Miles.
“The timing of the conference was providential,” said conference organizer Dr. Ron Daniels. “We came to this place for a reason, it was about honoring Amiri Baraka. The theme ‘Its Nation Time’ came to me because it is a time where we need to get up and get moving and then the whole notion of racial healing and collaboration for Black empowerment,” he said. He expressed his gratitude to Min. Farrakhan for once again supporting the State of the Black World Conference, which was first held in 2012. “The conference was amazing,” he said.