Maybe I’m not paying close enough attention.
It recently occurred to me that this October marks the 25th anniversary of the Million Man March. The march was a seminal moment in the 1990s when the nation’s attention was drawn to tens of thousands of Black men uniting to take on the challenges facing their communities. The historic rally-inspired participants awakened a generation of men to take on more significant leadership in their communities.
Below is one of his speeches from the seminal October 16th, 1995, Million Man March.
As many as 800,000 to 1.1 million people gathered on the National Mall in Washington DC. 25 years ago. They were drawn there by a call from the Rev. Louis Farrakhan, the controversial leader of the Nation of Islam.
As I reflected on the Million Man March, I wondered, whatever happened to Louis Farrakhan? I’ve seen his name surface a few times, but I thought that he’d been ill with cancer several years ago and had passed away. I TRULY THOUGHT THIS!
To my surprise, he’s still very much alive, and at the age of 87, still speaking out publicly and leading the Nation of Islam.
It takes moxie to call together a meeting of a million men, and Farrakhan has it. Here’s how:
Moxie makes music and makes sacrifices.
Farrakhan, known then as Louis Eugene Walcott, was raised in Boston. He was a gifted musician who dropped out of college to pursue a career as a Calypso singer.
While he was working in Chicago singing at nightclubs in the early 50s, he was invited to hear Elijah Muhammad speak. Muhammad was the founder of the Nation of Islam, a movement that married Islam with black supremacy. He was enthralled by the message and converted. Within a year, he had forsaken his music career and had become the assistant minister at the Temple of Islam in Boston under the tutelage of Malcolm X.
Moxie makes moves.
Farrakhan is a man of charisma married with ambition, depending on how you look at it. It’s long been speculated that he somehow had a hand in his mentor Malcolm X’s assassination.
After Elijah Muhammad died and the leadership of the Nation of Islam passed on to his son, Farrakhan became displeased with the direction of the organization and broke away to found his Nation of Islam.
In 2010 Farrakhan made another surprising move by embracing Dianetics and bringing Scientology practices into Islam’s Nation.
There’s little question that these moves have advanced Farrakhan’s position and given him more power. However, it’s difficult to discern if those moves were aimed at aligning with a sincerely held ideology or with amassing more power from my vantage point.
Moxie makes a mess!
The Nation of Islam faith as practiced by Farrakhan is not mainstream Islam. Elijah Muhammad’s founder adhered to black supremacy and believed white people to be inherently evil. Farrakhan embraced those beliefs and, over the years, has unleashed a torrent of offensive statements, including notable anti-Semitic remarks.
Perhaps his most controversial statement included praise for Adolf Hitler.
“Here come the Jews don’t like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler. Well, that’s a good name. Hitler was a very great man. He wasn’t great for me as a black person, but he was a great German. Now I’m not proud of Hitler’s evil against Jewish people, but that’s a matter of record. He rose Germany up from nothing. Well, in a sense, you could say there’s a similarity in that we are raising our people from nothing. But don’t compare me with your wicked killers,” Farrakhan said in a 1984 radio address.
Age has hardly mellowed Farrakhan! His hateful statements and embrace of wild conspiracy theories have gotten him booted from social media platforms.
Farrakhan is a bold leader but very troubling. While the Nation of Islam under his leadership has empowered black leaders and driven positive change in many communities, he has also shamelessly divided and demonized even those who have been allies in the fight for civil rights. His moxie was put to good use with the Million Man March, but his malevolence undercuts his efforts.
MILLION MAN MARCH’S WIKIPEDIA PAGE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Million_Man_March
LOUIS FARRAKHAN’S WIKIPEDIA PAGE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Farrakhan
ELIJAH MUHAMMED’S WIKIPEDIA PAGE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elijah_Muhammad
MALCOLM X’S WIKIPEDIA PAGE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_X
NATION OF ISLAM’S WIKIPEDIA PAGE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nation_of_Islam