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Farrakhan, Louis 1933–

Louis Farrakhan 1933

Islamic Minister

Became a Key Figure in the Nation of Islam

Inflammatory Rhetoric

Active in the Fight Against Drugs and Crime

Continues to Inspire Debate

Million Man March

Sources

Image not available for copyright reasons

Perhaps no contemporary African American orator has so inflamed both his admirers and his detractors as Louis Farrakhan. The leader of the controversial Nation of Islam, a religious organization founded by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in the 1930s, Farrakhan has invited scorn for passing allegedly anti-Semitic and racist remarks while winning praise for his advocacy of clean living and black self-help. Although he entered the national limelight through his participation in Jesse Jacksons 1984 presidential campaign, Farrakhan has been an important figure in black struggles for power and representation since his earliest days as a young minister under Elijah Muhammad.

Farrakhan was born Louis Eugene Walcott in New York City in 1933, the son of a schoolteacher and a domestic worker. In the 1950s he attended Winston-Salem Teachers College in North Carolina, but the rhetorical skills he honed there would take him to the pulpit rather than the classroom. In his youth, Walcott studied music, learning violin and guitar. Later, while living in Boston, he put the latter instrument to use in a nightclub act, calling himself Calypso Gene and singing political lyrics to Caribbean-style music. His talents as an entertainer caught the eye of Malcolm X, the renowned black activist who was then the most powerful and charismatic of Elijah Muhammads ministers. Walcott was recruited into the organization and began calling himself Louis X, preaching impressively and receiving the name Farrakhan from Elijah himself.

Became a Key Figure in the Nation of Islam

Farrakhan grew close to Elijah Muhammad very quickly. By the early 1960s he was head of the Nation of Islams Boston mosque. In 1965, Malcolm X left the organization in favor of a more inclusive and secular black activism-his new vision embraced the intentions of the U.S. Constitution-and was assassinated by a group from the Nation of Islam. Farrakhan, who had been close to Malcolm, replaced him at the Harlem mosque and eventually took over his job as the Nations press spokesman in 1972. Farrakhan has been a devoted preacher of Elijah Muhammads gospel ever since, and by the mid-1980s had emerged as one of black Americas most influential and uncompromising voices. In spite of his fiery pronouncements as a speaker, he leads a quiet and decidedly comfortable domestic life in what People described as

At a Glance

Born Louis Eugene Walcott, May 11, 1933, in New York, NY; son of a schoolteacher and a domestic worker; married Khadijah (Betsy), c. 1954; children: nine. Education: Attended Winston-Salem Teachers College.

Musician and singer, c. late 1950s; Nation of Islam, minister, 1965-, became leader; worked with Jesse Jackson on presidential campaign, 1984; founded POWER (People Organized and Working for Economic Rebirth), an entrepreneurial group; lecturer; co-organizer of the Million Man March, 1995.

Addresses: Office -Nation of Islam, 734 West 79th St., Chicago, II 60620.

an opulent mansion of marble and limestone in the Hyde Park section of Chicago in the house that of Elijah Muhammad built. He has been married to his wife Khadijah for nearly 45 years; their nine children have in turn given the Farrakhan family over 20 grandchildren. When he presents speeches at universities and other institutions, he is flanked by a personal security force called the Fruit of Islam.

The Nation of Islam began when Elijah Muhammad (born Elijah Poole) began to preach the divinity of a man named Wallace Fard; Fard allegedly revealed himself as the Muslim god Allah to Muhammad. The organization advocated religious and political militancy, proclaiming that civilization had begun with black men who were Gods chosen people. Whites, according to this doctrine, were devils, the subhuman creation of an evil magician named Yakub. These malevolent beings were said to be committed to the destruction of the black race, as evidenced by centuries of oppression and slavery. Allah would punish His enemies, and Nation of Islam literature brims with reference to Armageddon. As Thomas Landess and Richard Quinn wrote in their book Jesse Jackson and the Politics of Race, the Nation of Islam awaits a time when Allah is to deliver the United States of America and indeed the whole world into the hands of the blacks, whose destiny is to rule over all.

Yet the Nation of Islams doctrines differ radically from those of orthodox Islam. The sermons of Elijah Muhammad, and later of Farrakhan, combine ideas and beliefs from the Muslim Quran (also known as the Koran, or book of sacred writings) with Christian principles and images. They reportedly even invent scripture at times. In fact, when Elijah Muhammads son Wallace Deen Muhammad traveled to the East to study Islam, he decided his father was a fake and renounced the Nations earlier teachings. Elijah, who died in 1975, willed the holdings of the organization to his sonsmainly Wallace-much to Farrakhans disappointment. But Wallaces disavowal of his fathers philosophy eventually drove many of Elijahs followers into Farrakhans derivative group.

Muhammad and Farrakhan-and Malcolm X while he was in the group-were greatly influenced by the Black Nationalist movement. This movement has existed as long as the United States itself and argues that American blacks can only achieve freedom and independence by establishing their own nation. Some nationalists imagined this territory within the United States, others envisioned it in Africa. Elijah Muhammad wrote in his speech What Do the Muslims Want? that the black nation might be either on this continent or elsewhere. The Nation of Islam has long asked the U.S. government to provide reparations to black citizens-like those paid to Japanese-American internees of U.S. detention camps during World War IIto pay for a black nation. Blacks are already separate, Farrakhan told People. What does America owe us? Reparations must include the freeing of all blacks from state and local penitentiaries. Then let us ask our brothers and sisters in Africa to set aside a separate territory for us, and let us take the money that America is spending to maintain these convicts and [invest it in] a new reality on the African continent. That Farrakhan specified Africa in 1990 suggests that the United States no longer offered the hope of a new reality for the Muslims.

Inflammatory Rhetoric

It may be that whites found Farrakhan particularly threatening not so much for his critiques-these echo many of the basic charges leveled by a whole spectrum of black activists at white societyas for his rhetoric. Newsweek reported his saying that whites have practiced a form of genocide on black people worldwide and that there is a war being planned against black youth by the government of the United States under the guise of a war against drugs and gangs and violence. The idea of a conspiracy to kill or ruin the lives of black people strikes many of Farrakhans critics, especially white ones, as far-fetched, even fanatical. Yet the insistent use of race by white politicians as a means of attacking the welfare system and so-called hiring quo-tas-not to mention the extreme force used by urban police on black men, as captured on videotape by a witness to the beating of Rodney King by officers in Los Angeles-lend a certain credibility to Farrakhans theory in many listeners minds. The masses of black people, he remarked to People, in terms of median income, crime, youth unemployment, are going backwards. Even though we dont have the violent riots that we had in the 60s, there are quiet riots of unemployment, poverty, disease, hopelessness, and crime.

Farrakhan has received considerable attention for his attacks on Jews, a frequent target of Nation of Islam rhetoric. His harsh criticism of Israel goes much further than the specific critiques of those who object to its policies. According to Newsweek he claims that Israel practices deceit, murder, lying, and uses the cover of bible and religion and prophecy as the shield for that dirty, unclean practice. He has expressed his support for several of Israels Middle Eastern enemies, particularly Libya, which granted the Nation of Islam a substantial loan in the 1970s. Although he has claimed that his critics misrepresented his remarks in order to smear him, Farrakhan has been quoted several times as calling Judaism a gutter religion. This remark alone precipitated a huge controversy over free speech, ethnic solidarity, and bigotry. But Farrakhans statement, along with Jacksons notorious reference to New York as hymietown (utilizing a derogatory term for Jews), seriously alienated many of Jacksons potential supporters during his bid for the nomination as Democratic presidential candidate. When Milton Coleman, a black journalist, reported Jacksons remarks in the Washington Post, Farrakhan allegedly promised Coleman, One day soon, we will punish you with death [for acting] for white people and against the good of yourself and your own people. This is a fitting punishment for such dogs. Although Farrakhan never publicly acknowledged issuing this ambiguous threat, it is consistent with the tenor of many Nation of Islam pronouncements. Most damaging of all, however, was Farrakhans reference to Adolf Hitler-the German leader who during the Second World War ordered the extermination of millions of Jews and other ethnic minorities-as wickedly great. Although Farrakhan attempted to qualify the remark afterwards, its initial impact has never subsided.

Even if Farrakhans specific remarks about Jews and whites had not generated controversy, his groups beliefs apparently still disturb many of his critics. His presence on the national political scene has had a remarkably polarizing effect. Farrakhan has been attacked so vigorously in part because he is black, wrote Adolph Reed Jr. in Nation. He is seen by whites as a symbol embodying, and therefore justifying their fears of a black peril. Blacks have come to his defense mainly because he is black and perceived to be a victim of racially inspired defamation. Farrakhan has not hesitated to charge most of his critics with racism, and many analysts view the reluctance of black leaders to criticize Farrakhan as a symptom of this strategy. In one instance, a New Republic contributor chided Jackson for his cautious handling of Farrakhans inflammatory rhetoric: Its partly because he doesnt want to alienate a small but increasingly powerful black constituency, but theres more to it than that. Jackson is plainly willing to remain silent in the face of bigotry if that is the only way he can avoid seeming to agree with Farrakhans critics. Jackson may or may not be pro-Farrakhan. He is, however, quite firmly anti-anti-Farrakhan. In 1988 the New Republic dedicated an entire story, entitled Hate Story, to Farrakhans remarks about Jews. The lengthy quotations from his speeches reiterate his accusation of racism on the part of his critics and indicate the probable social basis for the popularity of his remarks about Jews. Im a victim of your bigotry, he responded to Washington Post critic Richard Cohen, and now you call me a bigot. Farrakhans attacks on Jews, read in context, indicate that he and many of his constituents see Jewish people as part of Americas power and money elite, and therefore as an integral part of the systematic discrimination that blacks have encountered. That this perception of Jewish monetary control is itself an ancient racial stereotype seems to mean little to them. Jews also receive condemnation for supporting Israel, a region which the Nation of Islam and many other analysts of world politics accuse of mistreating its Arab neighbors. Thus the many-sided conflicts of that region become a white versus black issue.

During both of his bids for the U.S. presidency, Jackson was pressured to distance himself from Farrakhan. In a 1990 interview in People, Farrakhan insisted at once, I am not the same man that I was four years ago. I have matured as a leader, but he also claimed that he was deliberately quoted out of context by Jewish organizations, having connections in the media and fearing Jacksons evenhanded Middle East policies. Though Jackson eventually conceded during the 1988 campaign that he found many of Farrakhans remarks offensive, many in the black community perceived such statements as attempts to placate white constituencies, and even as selling out. Farrakhans popularity in black communities throughout the United States owes much to his refusal to qualify or tone down his language; thus he seems to defy the white establishment simply by ignoring its objections. Black folk are listening to me more than any black leader on the scene today, he claimed in People, and whether this statement is literally true or not, he commands a very large followingIn 1990, People estimated that the Nations members alone number around ten thousand. This doesnt include the many Christians and secular activists who attend his speeches and draw inspiration from his uncompromising style. John Hurst Adams, leader of the Congress of National Black Churches, told Time that Farrakhan is tapping deep feelings based on 400 years of racism and speaks for many other blacks than just his followers. Though some of Farrakhans critics believe that the Muslim ministers popularity is often shallow and related to the symbol-heavy realm of pop culture, they may forget how much pop culture informs popular debate. The highly politicized rap group Public Enemys song Dont Believe the Hype defends the minister against his attackers: Dont say you understand/Until youve heard the man.

Active in the Fight Against Drugs and Crime

Farrakhans organization generated some positive press through its dopebusters program. An unarmed group of Muslims managed to remove drug-trafficking from two troubled Washington D.C. housing projects, Mayfair Mansions and Paradise Manor. Unfortunately, the groups successes, attributed by many to their rapport with the black community, were tainted by conflicts with the police. In Los Angeles, a series of violent confrontations culminated in the January 1990 death of Nation of Islam member Oliver Beasley. Beasley was shot when he and a group of other Muslims surrounded a police car that had stopped fellow Nation member David Hartley for speeding. Khallid Muhammad, an aide to Farrakhan, encapsulated the Muslim attitude toward police harassment: Why do you want us to bow down to youbow in the streets, face down, as though you were God?... We bow down to God and God alone. In spite of Farrakhans history of inflammatory statements, Newsweeks Lynda Wright and Daniel Glick acknowledged the importance of his participation in the struggle against drug anarchy. Over one thousand black men joined the Nation of Islam as a result of this campaign. James Johnson, an 18-year-old veteran of the L.A. streets, told Times Sylvester Monroe, They told me how we were killing ourselves and showed me whats really going on in society. Minister Farrakhan has a way of getting your attention.

Another milestone of the 1990 Nation of Islam campaign was its improved relationship with the African Methodist Episcopalian (AME) Church, one of Americas oldest black churches. AME congregationalists in south central Los Angeles, one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the country, worshipped with Muslims and vowed to cooperate with them in rescuing their city from violence and despair. Church pastor Cecil Murray told Time that the groups had come together not to hash over dogma and doctrine but to pool their resources to save the neighborhood. The Nations appeal to community self-help has earned the approval of many organizations that may or may not agree with the rest of its program. Jim Cleaver, a deputy to Los Angeles supervisor Kenneth Hahn, remarked to Time, I am not about to become a Muslim. I just respect what they do. Joseph H. Duff, the then-president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), observed in the same article that the problem of confronting gang violence and drugs is the responsibility of the black male. And Muslims have always been a symbol of strong black manhood.

Continues to Inspire Debate

Most of Farrakhans vocal critics have been politically moderate or centrist whites. Columnist Charles Krauthammer summed up the sentiments of Farrakhans opposition in his Time editorial The Black Rejection-ists, stating, The new alternative leadership Farrakhan symbolizes is not so much radical... as nihilist. It stands above all for rejection. Farrakhans rejection of things American is too long to list, but it includes racial integration and religious tolerance.... The rejectionists have nothing to offer the black community beyond the momentary satisfaction of articulated rage. Yet, according to Reed, Farrakhan engaged in a very sympathetic July 23, 1990 interview with The Spotlight, a publication of an extreme right-wing organization called the Liberty Lobby. Reed argued that Farrakhans goals are quite compatible with those of ultraconservative whites, since the Nation of Islams demand for a separate realm for blacks effectually fulfills the goals of many openly anti-black groups. Furthermore, suggested Reed, the Nations emphasis on self-help and economic independence fits in completely with Reagan and Bush-era economics-practices long attacked by activists for ignoring the needs of minorities-and ultimately helps the government to justify cuts in social spending.

The self-help dimension of the Nations philosophy embraces everything from spirituality to hygiene. Thus in his speech Self-Improvement Farrakhan made the transition from the teachings of Jesus and Muhammad to the introduction of his line of Clean n Fresh cleaning products. These products, he promised his listeners, can be sold in Muslim markets worldwide and can amass a huge fortune, though he dismissed any profit motive of his own: That kind of money is what we need to do the positive things that have to be done to lift our people toward total liberation.... So all of this belongs to the membership of the Nation of Islam. In 1985 Farrakhan started the organization he called POWER (People Organized and Working for Economic Rebirth), a parent company for business endeavors like Clean n Fresh. The principle underlying the venture maintains that black people in America needed to build their own economic base. This could best be accomplished by recruiting black salespeople to sell black-produced products in black neighborhoods. To this end, Farrakhan secured a $5 million interest-free loan from the nation of Libya. Unfortunately for the venture, Farrakhans manufacturers backed out as a result of the negative publicity that followed the Hymietown incident and Farrakhans own statements about Jews.

Though the fortune envisioned by the minister has not materialized, the idea of an all-black entrepreneurial scheme based on cleanliness and approved by the Quran is itself rich in meaning for anyone who hopes to understand Farrakhan and his organization. For his ministrations always presuppose a diseased black community, unwashed and without grace, in need of discipline and capital. His depictions of urban blacks as wild, loud, and immoral appeal to long-standing stereotypes harbored by some segments of the white community. Reed took him to task for these depictions: This often lurid imagery of [black lower-class] pathology naturally points toward a need for behavioral modification, moral regeneration and special tutelage by black betters, and black middle-class paternalism is as shameless and self-serving now as at the turn of the century. Several critics have suggested that Farrakhan has exploited his position as a minority leader by claiming to speak on behalf of black people and that he has managed to link any black criticism of him with race treason.

In January of 1995 Qubilah Bahiyah Shabazz, daughter of slain black nationalist leader Malcolm X, was arrested and charged with trying to hire an FBI informant to kill Farrakhan, who some believe was involved in the 1965 assassination of her father. Farrakhan publicly defended Shabazz, claiming that the charges were an FBI attempt to entrap her. On May 1, 1995, Shabazz avoided a trial and possible prison sentence by accepting responsibility for the plot. The court ordered her to seek psychiatric counseling, enter a drug and alcohol treatment program, and to obtain a steady job.

Million Man March

On October 16, 1995, African American men from across the United States convened in Washington, D.C. for the Million Man March, a rally masterminded by Farrakhan and organized by the Nation of Islam and promoted by the National African Merican Leadership Summit. Billed as a holy day of atonement and reconciliation. marchers were urged to make a commitment to improve themselves, their families, and their communities. Those who could not attend the march were urged to stay home from work and avoid spending money at businesses as a show of solidarity with the marchers. Farrakhan closed the march with a two-hour speech in which he condemned the doctrine of white supremacy and claimed that there are still two Americasone black, one white, separate and unequal. He also challenged the marchers to return home and work to make their communities safe and decent places to live. According to a U.S. Navy Intelligence satellite laser count, there were over 1.18 million attendees. The march was deemed a success on many levels and did much to help shake the myth of all black men as convicts, hustlers, and pimps and replaced that image with one of responsible, self-confident, culturally aware men.

Farrakhan embarked on a controversial 18-nation tour of Africa and the Middle East in early 1996. During the tour, he visited Iran and Libya, nations which the United States government believes support international terrorism. Although he claimed that the trip was designed to promote peace and reconciliation, Farrakhan was widely criticized by U.S. officials for several anti-American statements he made while overseas.

Despite the considerable negative publicity he has gained by making remarks construed as racist and anti-Semitic, Louis Farrakhan has survived as a forceful presence on the black political landscape. Whether he will continue recruiting new members and gaining greater acceptance for his organization will depend on the political and social climate in the coming years, and whether or not he chooses to modify his rhetoric to make his message more accessible. In a period of great crisis in the black community, Louis Farrakhans powerful and unconventional ideas have attracted a substantial following; his tenacity has sustained that following. I have weathered all of the storms, he told People, and by the grace of God have come out on top.

Sources

Books

African American Almanac, L. Mpho Mabunda, editor, Gale Research, 1997.

Bracey, John H. Jr., August Meier, and Elliot Rudwick, editors, Black Nationalism in America, Bobbs-Mer-rill, 1970.

Eure, Joseph D., and Richard M. Jerome, editors, Back Where We Belong: Selected Speeches by

Minister Louis Farrakhan, PC International Press, 1989.

Landess, Thomas, and Richard Quinn, Jesse Jackson and the Politics of Race, Jameson Books, 1985.

Periodicals

Nation, January 21, 1991; January 28, 1991.

New Republic, May 30, 1988; December 18, 1989.

Newsweek, March 19, 1990.

People, September 17, 1990.

Time, April 16, 1990; July 23, 1990.

Simon Glickman

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Farrakhan, Louis 1933–

Louis Farrakhan 1933

Islamic Minister

At a Glance

Inflammatory Rhetoric

Active in the Fight Against Drugs and Crime

Continues to Inspire Debate

Sources

Perhaps no contemporary African-American orator has so inflamed both his admirers and his detractors as Louis Farrakhan. The leader of the controversial Nation of Islam, a religious organization founded by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in the 1930s, Farrakhan has invited scorn for passing allegedly anti-Semitic and racist remarks while winning praise for his advocacy of clean living and black self-help. Although he entered the national limelight through his participation in Jesse Jacksons 1984 presidential campaign, Farrakhan has been an important figure in black struggles for power and representation since his earliest days as a young minister under Elijah Muhammad.

Farrakhan was born Louis Eugene Walcott in New York City in 1933, the son of a schoolteacher and a domestic worker. In the 1950s he attended Winston-Salem Teachers College in North Carolina, but the rhetorical skills he honed there would take him to the pulpit rather than the classroom. In his youth, Walcott studied music, learning violin and guitar. Later, while living in Boston, he put the latter instrument to use in a nightclub act, calling himself Calypso Gene and singing political lyrics to Caribbean-style music. His talents as an entertainer caught the eye of Malcolm X, the renowned black activist who was then the most powerful and charismatic of Elijah Muhammads ministers. Walcott was recruited into the organization and began calling himself Louis X, preaching impressively and receiving the name Farrakhan from Elijah himself.

Farrakhan grew close to Elijah Muhammad very quickly. By the early 1960s he was head of the Nation of Islams Boston mosque. In 1965, Malcolm X left the organization in favor of a more inclusive and secular black activismhis new vision embraced the intentions of the U.S. Constitutionand was assassinated by a group from the Nation of Islam. Farrakhan, who had been close to Malcolm, replaced him at the Harlem mosque and eventually took over his job as the Nations press spokesman in 1972. Farrakhan has been a devoted preacher of Elijah Muhammads gospel ever since, and by the mid-1980s had emerged as one of black Americas most influential and uncompromising voices. In spite of his fiery pronouncements as a speaker, he leads a quiet and decidedly comfortable domestic life in what People described as an opulent mansion of marble and limestone in the Hyde Park section of Chicago. He has been married to his wife, Khadijah, for 36 years; their nine

At a Glance

Born Louis Eugene Walcott, May 11, 1933, in New York, NY; son of a schoolteacher and a domestic worker; married Khadijah (Betsy), c. 1954; children: nine. Education: Attended Winston-Salem Teachers College.

Musician and singer, c. late 1950s; Nation of Islam, minister, 1965, became leader; worked with Jesse Jackson on presidential campaign, 1984; founded POWER (People Organized and Working for Economic Rebirth), an entrepreneurial group; lecturer.

Addresses: Office Nation of Islam, 734 West 79th St., Chicago, IL 60620.

children have in turn given the Farrakhan family 22 grandchildren. When he presents speeches at universities and other institutions, he is flanked by a personal security force called the Fruit of Islam.

The Nation of Islam began when Elijah Muhammad (born Elijah Poole) began to preach the divinity of a man named Wallace Fard; Fard allegedly revealed himself as the Muslim god Allah to Muhammad. The organization advocated religious and political militancy, proclaiming that civilization had begun with black men who were Gods chosen people. Whites, according to this doctrine, were devils, the subhuman creation of an evil magician named Yakub. These malevolent beings were said to be committed to the destruction of the black race, as evidenced by centuries of oppression and slavery. Allah would punish His enemies, and Nation of Islam literature brims with reference to Armageddon. As Thomas Landess and Richard Quinn wrote in their book Jesse Jackson and the Politics of Race, the Nation of Islam awaits a time when Allah is to deliver the United States of America and indeed the whole world into the hands of the blacks, whose destiny is to rule over all.

Yet the Nation of Islams doctrines differ radically from those of orthodox Islam. The sermons of Elijah Muhammad, and later of Farrakhan, combine ideas and beliefs from the Muslim Quran (also known as the Koran, or book of sacred writings) with Christian principles and images. They reportedly even invent scripture at times. In fact, when Elijah Muhammads son Wallace Deen Muhammad traveled to the East to study Islam, he decided his father was a fake and renounced the Nations earlier teachings. Elijah, who died in 1975, willed the holdings of the organization to his sonsmainly Wallacemuch to Farrakhans disappointment. But Wallaces disavowal of his fathers philosophy eventually drove many of Elijahs followers into Farrakhans derivative group.

Muhammad and Farrakhanand Malcolm X while he was in the groupwere greatly influenced by the Black Nationalist movement. This movement has existed as long as the United States itself and argues that American blacks can only achieve freedom and independence by establishing their own nation. Some nationalists imagined this territory within the United States, others envisioned it in Africa. Elijah Muhammad wrote in his speech What Do the Muslims Want? that the black nation might be either on this continent or elsewhere. The Nation of Islam has long asked the U.S. government to provide reparations to black citizenslike those paid to Japanese-American internees of U.S. detention camps during World War IIto pay for a black nation. Blacks are already separate, Farrakhan told People. What does America owe us? Reparations must include the freeing of all blacks from state and local penitentiaries. Then let us ask our brothers and sisters in Africa to set aside a separate territory for us, and let us take the money that America is spending to maintain these convicts and [invest it in] a new reality on the African continent. That Farrakhan specified Africa in 1990 suggests that the United States no longer offered the hope of a new reality for the Muslims.

Inflammatory Rhetoric

It may be that whites found Farrakhan particularly threatening not so much for his critiquesthese echo many of the basic charges leveled by a whole spectrum of black activists at white societyas for his rhetoric. Newsweek reported his saying that whites have practiced a form of genocide on black people worldwide and that there is a war being planned against black youth by the government of the United States under the guise of a war against drugs and gangs and violence. The idea of a conspiracy to kill or ruin the lives of black people strikes many of Farrakhans critics, especially white ones, as far-fetched, even fanatical. Yet the insistent use of race by white politicians as a means of attacking the welfare system and so-called hiring quotasnot to mention the extreme force used by urban police on black men, as captured on videotape by a witness to the beating of Rodney King by officers in Los Angeleslend a certain credibility to Farrakhans theory in many listeners minds. The masses of black people, he remarked to People, in terms of median income, crime, youth unemployment, are going backwards. Even though we dont have the violent riots that we had in the 60s, there are quiet riots of unemployment, poverty, disease, hopelessness, and crime.

Farrakhan has received considerable attention for his attacks on Jews, a frequent target of Nation of Islam rhetoric. His harsh criticism of Israel goes much further than the specific critiques of those who object to its policies. According to Newsweek he claims that Israel practices deceit, murder, lying and uses the cover of bible and religion and prophecy as the shield for that dirty, unclean practice. He has expressed his support for several of Israels Middle Eastern enemies, particularly Libya, which granted the Nation of Islam a substantial loan in the 1970s. Although he has claimed that his critics misrepresented his remarks in order to smear him, Farrakhan has been quoted several times as calling Judaism a gutter religion. This remark alone precipitated a huge controversy over free speech, ethnic solidarity, and bigotry.

But Farrakhans statement, along with Jacksons notorious reference to New York City as hymietown (utilizing a derogatory term for Jews), seriously alienated many of Jacksons potential supporters during his bid for the nomination as Democratic presidential candidate. When Milton Coleman, a black journalist, reported Jacksons remarks in the Washington Post, Farrakhan allegedly promised Coleman, One day soon, we will punish you with death [for acting] for white people and against the good of yourself and your own people. This is a fitting punishment for such dogs. Although Farrakhan never publicly acknowledged issuing this ambiguous threat, it is consistent with the tenor of many Nation of Islam pronouncements. Most damaging of all, however, was Farrakhans reference to Adolf Hitlerthe German leader who during the Second World War ordered the extermination of millions of Jews and other ethnic minoritiesas wickedly great. Although Farrakhan attempted to qualify the remark afterwards, its initial impact has never subsided.

Even if Farrakhans specific remarks about Jews and whites hadnt generated controversy, his groups beliefs apparently still disturb many of his critics. His presence on the national political scene has had a remarkably polarizing effect. Farrakhan has been attacked so vigorously in part because he is black, wrote Adolph Reed Jr. in Nation. He is seen by whites as a symbol embodying, and therefore justifying their fears of a black peril. Blacks have come to his defense mainly because he is black and perceived to be a victim of racially inspired defamation. Farrakhan has not hesitated to charge most of his critics with racism, and many analysts view the reluctance of black leaders to criticize Farrakhan as a symptom of this strategy. In one instance, a New Republic contributor chided Jackson for his cautious handling of Farrakhans inflammatory rhetoric: Its partly because he doesnt want to alienate a small but increasingly powerful black constituency, but theres more to it than that. Jackson is plainly willing to remain silent in the face of bigotry if thats the only way he can avoid seeming to agree with Farrakhans critics. Jackson may or may not be pro-Farrakhan. He is, however, quite firmly anti-anti-Farrakhan. In 1988 the New Republic dedicated an entire story, entitled Hate Story, to Farrakhans remarks about Jews. The lengthy quotations from his speeches reiterate his accusation of racism on the part of his critics and indicate the probable social basis for the popularity of his remarks about Jews. Im a victim of your bigotry, he responded to Washington Post critic Richard Cohen, and now you call me a bigot. Farrakhans attacks on Jews, read in context, indicate that he and many of his constituents see Jewish people as part of Americas power and money elite, and therefore as an integral part of the systematic discrimination that blacks have encountered. That this perception of Jewish monetary control is itself an ancient racial stereotype seems to mean little to them. Jews also receive condemnation for supporting Israel, a region which the Nation of Islam and many other analysts of world politics accuse of mistreating its Arab neighbors. Thus the many-sided conflicts of that region become a white versus black issue.

During both of his bids for the U.S. presidency, Jackson was pressured to distance himself from Farrakhan. In a 1990 interview in People, Farrakhan insisted at once, I am not the same man that I was four years ago. I have matured as a leader, but he also claimed that he was deliberately quoted out of context by Jewish organizations, having connections in the media and fearing Jacksons evenhanded Middle East policies. Though Jackson eventually conceded during the 1988 campaign that he found many of Farrakhans remarks offensive, many in the black community perceived such statements as attempts to placate white constituencies, and even as selling out.

Farrakhans popularity in black communities throughout the United States owes much to his refusal to qualify or tone down his language; thus he seems to defy the white establishment simply by ignoring its objections. Black folk are listening to me more than any black leader on the scene today, he claimed in People, and whether this statement is literally true or not, he commands a very large followingPeople estimates that the Nations members alone number around ten thousand. This doesnt include the many Christians and secular activists who attend his speeches and draw inspiration from his uncompromising style. John Hurst Adams, leader of the Congress of National Black Churches, told Time that Farrakhan is tapping deep feelings based on 400 years of racism and speaks for many other blacks than just his followers. Though some of Farrakhans critics believe that the Muslim ministers popularity is often shallow and related to the symbol-heavy realm of pop culture, they may forget how much pop culture informs popular debate. The highly politicized rap group Public Enemys song Dont Believe the Hype defends the minister against his attackers: Dont say you understand / Until youve heard the man.

Active in the Fight Against Drugs and Crime

Farrakhans organization generated some positive press through its dopebusters program. An unarmed group of Muslims managed to remove drug-trafficking from two troubled Washington D.C. housing projects, Mayfair Mansions and Paradise Manor. Unfortunately, the groups successes, attributed by many to their rapport with the black community, were tainted by conflicts with the police. In Los Angeles, a series of violent confrontations culminated in the January 1990 death of Nation of Islam member Oliver Beasley. Beasley was shot when he and a group of other Muslims surrounded a police car that had stopped fellow Nation member David Hartley for speeding. Khallid Muhammad, an aide to Farrakhan, encapsulated the Muslim attitude toward police harassment: Why do you want us to bow down to youbow in the streets, face down, as though you were God? We bow down to God and God alone. In spite of Farrakhans history of inflammatory statements, Newsweeks Lynda Wright and Daniel Glick acknowledged the importance of his participation in the struggle against drug anarchy. Over one thousand black men joined the Nation of Islam as a result of this campaign. James Johnson, an 18-year-old veteran of the L. A. streets, told Times Sylvester Monroe, They told me how we were killing ourselves and showed me whats really going on in society. Minister Farrakhan has a way of getting your attention.

Another milestone of the 1990 Nation of Islam campaign was its improved relationship with the African Methodist Episcopalian (AME) Church, one of Americas oldest black churches. AME congregationalists in south central Los Angeles, one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the country, worshipped with Muslims and vowed to cooperate with them in rescuing their city from violence and despair. Church pastor Cecil Murray told Time that the groups had come together not to hash over dogma and doctrine but to pool their resources to save the neighborhood. The Nations appeal to community self-help has earned the approval of many organizations that may or may not agree with the rest of its program. Jim Cleaver, a deputy to Los Angeles supervisor Kenneth Hahn, remarked to Time, I am not about to become a Muslim. I just respect what they do. Joseph H. Duff, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), observed in the same article that the problem of confronting gang violence and drugs is the responsibility of the black male. And Muslims have always been a symbol of strong black manhood.

Continues to Inspire Debate

Most of Farrakhans vocal critics have been politically moderate or centrist whites. Columnist Charles Krauthammer summed up the sentiments of Farrakhans opposition in his Time editorial The Black Rejectionists, stating, The new alternative leadership Farrakhan symbolizes is not so much radical as nihilist. It stands above all for rejection. Farrakhans rejection of things American is too long to list, but it includes racial integration and religious tolerance. The rejectionists have nothing to offer the black community beyond the momentary satisfaction of articulated rage. Yet, according to Reed, Farrakhan engaged in a very sympathetic July 23,1990 interview with The Spotlight, a publication of an extreme right-wing organization called the Liberty Lobby. Reed argued that Farrakhans goals are quite compatible with those of ultraconservative whites, since the Nation of Islams demand for a separate realm for blacks effectually fulfills the goals of many openly anti-black groups. Furthermore, suggested Reed, the Nations emphasis on self-help and economic independence fits in completely with Reagan and Bush-era economicspractices long attacked by activists for ignoring the needs of minoritiesand ultimately helps the government to justify cuts in social spending.

The self-help dimension of the Nations philosophy embraces everything from spirituality to hygiene. Thus in his speech Self-Improvement Farrakhan made the transition from the teachings of Jesus and Muhammad to the introduction of his line of Clean n Fresh cleaning products. These products, he promised his listeners, can be sold in Muslim markets worldwide and can amass a huge fortune, though he dismissed any profit motive of his own: That kind of money is what we need to do the positive things that have to be done to lift our people toward total liberation. So all of this belongs to the membership of the Nation of Islam. In 1985 Farrakhan started the organization he called POWER (People Organized and Working for Economic Rebirth), a parent company for business endeavors like Clean n Fresh. The principle underlying the venture maintains that black people in America need to build their own economic base. This could best be accomplished by recruiting black salespeople to sell black-produced products in black neighborhoods. To this end, Farrakhan secured a $5 million interest-free loan from the nation of Libya. Unfortunately for the venture, Farrakhans manufacturers backed out as a result of the negative publicity that followed the Hymietown incident and Farrakhans own statements about Jews.

Though the fortune envisioned by the minister has not materialized, the idea of an all-black entrepreneurial scheme based on cleanliness and approved by the Quran is itself rich in meaning for anyone who hopes to understand Farrakhan and his organization. For his ministrations always presuppose a diseased black community, unwashed and without grace, in need of discipline and capital. His depictions of urban blacks as wild, loud, and immoral appeal to long-standing stereotypes harbored by some segments of the white community. Reed took him to task for these depictions: This often lurid imagery of [black lower-class] pathology naturally points toward a need for behavioral modification, moral regeneration and special tutelage by black betters, and black middle-class paternalism is as shameless and self-serving now as at the turn of the century. Several critics have suggested that Farrakhan has exploited his position as a minority leader by claiming to speak on behalf of black people and that he has managed to link any black criticism of him with race treason.

Despite the considerable negative publicity he has gained by making remarks construed as racist and anti-Semitic, Louis Farrakhan has survived as a forceful presence on the black political landscape. Whether he will continue recruiting new members and gaining greater acceptance for his organization will depend on the political and social climate in the coming years, and whether or not he chooses to modify his rhetoric to make his message more accessible. In a period of great crisis in the black community, Louis Farrakhans powerful and unconventional ideas have attracted a substantial following; his tenacity has sustained that following. I have weathered all of the storms, he told People, and by the grace of God have come out on top.

Sources

Books

Bracey, John H., Jr., August Meier, and Elliot Rudwick, editors, Black Nationalism in America, Bobbs-Merrill, 1970.

Eure, Joseph D., and Richard M. Jerome, editors, Back Where We Belong: Selected Speeches by Minister Louis Farrakhan, PC International Press, 1989.

Landess, Thomas, and Richard Quinn, Jesse Jackson and the Politics of Race, Jameson Books, 1985.

Periodicals

Nation, January 21, 1991; January 28, 1991.

New Republic, May 30, 1988; December 18, 1989.

Newsweek, March 19, 1990.

People, September 17, 1990.

Time, April 16, 1990; July 23, 1990.

Simon Glickman

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Farrakhan, Louis

Louis Farrakhan

Born: May 11, 1933
New York, New York

African American civil rights activist, religious leader, and minister

Louis Farrakhan is a leader of the Nation of Islam, a religious group that is more popularly known as the Black Muslims. Beginning in the 1970s he emerged as a spokesman for Black Nationalism, arguing that African Americans should work to improve themselves rather than expect whites to help them. He was frequently criticized for mixing his positive messages with remarks that some felt showed prejudice (dislike of people based on their race or religion) toward white and Jewish people.

Early years

Louis Farrakhan was born Louis Eugene Walcott on May 11, 1933, the son of Percival Clark and Mae Manning Clark. His father was a Jamaican man who later deserted his family, and his mother was a domestic worker who had come to the United States from the West Indies. Farrakhan's family moved to Boston, Massachusetts, when he was three. Farrakhan had a talent for music and began taking violin lessons at the age of five. In high school he was an honor student, a good track athlete, and a member of the choir in the local Episcopalian church. After two years of college he began a career as a professional violinist and singer who used such stage names as "The Charmer."

In 1955 Farrakhan was taken by a friend to hear a speech by Elijah Muhammad (18971975), the leader of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad was the second head of the movement, having attained his position following the disappearance of founder W. D. Fard in 1934. Under Muhammad the movement had grown to include hundreds of thousands of members with a large network of farms, restaurants, stores, and schools. Muhammad spoke out against "white devils" and promised that one day God would restore African Americans, who were regarded by the Nation of Islam as the original humans, to their rightful position as leaders of the world. Muhammad forbid his followers to smoke, drink, fight, eat pork, and engage in destructive behavior. Followers were also commanded to say prayers, attend religious services regularly, improve their education, and serve the movement. Farrakhan joined soon after hearing Muhammad speak. He took the name Louis X (a common Nation of Islam practice indicating that one's identity had been stolen during slavery) and later Louis Farrakhan.

Moving up and breaking away

Farrakhan's ability and dedication were noticed by Muhammad, who appointed him minister of the Boston mosque (a building used by Muslims for public worship). After the death of Malcolm X (19251965) he was appointed leader of the important Harlem Temple No. 7 and official spokesperson for Elijah Muhammad. He was also given the important task of introducing Muhammad at rallies on Savior's Day, a major Nation of Islam holiday celebrating Fard's birthday.

Elijah Muhammad died in 1975 and his son Wallace Muhammad (1933), who was much quieter and more moderate than his father, became leader of the Nation of Islam. At Wallace Muhammad's invitation Farrakhan moved to Chicago, Illinois, to work in the movement's headquarters. Soon Wallace Muhammad began to pursue a program of moderation for the movement. He abandoned its antiwhite stanceeven letting whites joinand built bridges to the larger world from the Islamic community. Farrakhan became a major voice of a group within the movement made up of members who disagreed with the move toward moderation. He resigned from the movement in 1978 and organized a new Nation of Islam that closely resembled Elijah Muhammad's group, with dress and behavior codes and Muslim institutions and businesses. The racial theories and antiwhite sentiment of the Muhammad days were stressed once again. Farrakhan opened mosques in cities across America and reached out to the wider African American community through publications and a radio show.

Subject of criticism

Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, which in 1983 was estimated to have between five to ten thousand members, remained little known until March 1984, when controversy (a discussion marked by the expression of opposing views) suddenly erupted over his association with presidential candidate Jesse Jackson (1941). Farrakhan, who had earlier advised his followers to avoid political involvements, had thrown his support behind Jackson, even providing bodyguards for the candidate. Farrakhan had registered to vote for the first time and urged his followers to do the same. Jackson had returned the favor by appearing as the featured speaker at the Muslim Savior's Day rally in February 1984.

In March, however, Farrakhan called Milton Coleman, an African American reporter for the Washington Post, a traitor after Coleman disclosed that Jackson had made offensive remarks about Jewish people while speaking with campaign assistants. In a speech, Farrakhan said of Coleman, "One day soon we will punish you with death." He later denied that he was threatening Coleman's life. Farrakhan's role in Jackson's campaign was greatly reduced after it became known that Farrakhan had referred to Judaism as a "gutter religion" and described Adolf Hitler (18891945), the German leader who caused the deaths of millions of Jewish people during World War II (193945), as "a very great man."

Criticism of Farrakhan increased when it was uncovered that during the 1980s he had visited Libya and received a $5 million interest-free loan from Libyan head of state Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi (1942) to help build Muslim institutions and businesses. Qadhafi was known to have provided training and money for terrorist acts. Farrakhan explained that he sought to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for African American self-improvement programs from all of the groups, including Arabs, that had been involved in the slave trade and the destruction of African culture.

Still a force

After the publicity he received during the 1984 presidential campaign, Farrakhan continued his busy public speaking schedule and continued to have an influence on African Americans far beyond the membership of his own movement. He and his wife, Betsy, have nine children and live in a mainly white neighborhood in Chicago. In 1993, on his sixtieth birthday, Farrakhan performed a violin concert on Chicago's South Side in an attempt to better his image. The concert was held at a temple in hopes that tensions between Farrakhan and the Jewish community could be mended. Farrakhan also opened a $5 million restaurant, the Salaam Restaurant and Bakery, in March 1995 with funds collected from followers and the sale of the Final Call, an Islamic newspaper.

The loyalty of Farrakhan's followers was most evident in October 1995 in Washington, D.C. Farrakhan had urged at least one million African American men to travel to the nation's capital as a show of strength for their community. The Million Man March, as it was called, was designed to create solidarity (a feeling of unity, or oneness) among members of the African American community and to help bridge a gap between whites and African Americans. The march surprised many, not only because of the large number of participants but because few thought that Farrakhan could promote and pull off a nonviolent protest. The Million Man March was followed up in 2000 by the Million Family March, celebrating family and unity and stressing the need for education and the importance of voting.

For More Information

Haskins, James. Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. New York: Walker and Co., 1996.

Levinsohn, Florence Hamlish. Looking for Farrakhan. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1997.

Magida, Arthur J. Prophet of Rage: A Life of Louis Farrakhan and His Nation. New York: Basic Books, 1996.

Pooley, Eric. "Million Man March." Time (October 16, 1995).

White, Jack E. "No Innocent Abroad." Time (February 26, 1996).

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Louis Farrakhan

Louis Farrakhan

Louis Farrakhan (born Louis Eugene Walcott, 1933) is a leader of one branch of the Nation of Islam, more popularly known as the Black Muslims. Beginning in the mid-1970s he emerged as a popular and militant spokesman for Black Nationalism.

Louis Eugene Walcott was born on May 11, 1933, and grew up in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. After joining the Nation of Islam in the 1950s, he took the name Louis X (a standard Nation of Islam practice indicating that one's identity and culture were stolen during slavery) and later Louis Farrakhan. In high school he was an honor student, a good track athlete, and an active Episcopalian. After two years of college he embarked on a career as a professional violinist and singer who used such stage names as "Calypso Gene" and "The Charmer."

At the age of 21, in 1955, Farrakhan was taken by a friend to hear Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad was the second head of the movement, having attained his position following the mysterious disappearance of founder W.D. Fard in 1934, and had overseen its growth to tens or hundreds of thousands of members with an extensive network of farms, restaurants, stores, schools, and other businesses and institutions. Muhammad's message excoriated "white devils" and promised that the day would soon arrive when God would restore African Americans, who were regarded as the original humans, to their rightful position as leaders of the world. Muhammad also imposed strict standards of behavior on his followers, who were forbidden from smoking, drinking, fighting, eating pork, and other behaviors regarded as destructive and were commanded to say prayers, attend religious services regularly, improve their education, and provide extensive service to the movement. Farrakhan joined the movement soon after hearing its leader speak.

The newcomer's ability and dedication were quickly appreciated by Muhammad, who appointed him minister of the Boston mosque. After the death of Malcolm X in 1965 he was appointed leader of the important Harlem Temple No. 7 and official spokesperson for Elijah Muhammad. He was also given the symbolically important task of introducing Muhammad at rallies on Savior's Day, a major Nation of Islam holiday celebrating Fard's birthday.

Elijah Muhammad died in 1975 and was succeeded by his son Wallace Muhammad, who proved much quieter and more moderate than his father. At Wallace Muhammad's invitation Farrakhan moved to Chicago to work in the movement's headquarters. Soon Wallace Muhammad began to pursue a program of moderation for the movement, abandoning its antiwhite rhetoric (and even admitting whites to membership) and building bridges to the larger world from the Islamic community. That program resulted in a movement that today functions as a relatively conventional expression of Islam.

Farrakhan became a major voice of the "purist" faction composed of members who rejected the move toward moderation. He resigned from the movement in 1978 and organized a new Nation of Islam that closely resembled Elijah Muhammad's original movement, with dress and behavior codes and Muslim institutions and businesses. The racial theology and bitterly antiwhite rhetoric of Elijah Muhammad once again became standard. The reconstituted movement grew quietly but steadily as Farrakhan opened mosques in American cities and reached out to the wider African American community through publications and a radio show.

Farrakhan's movement, which in 1983 was estimated to have between five and ten thousand members, remained relatively obscure until March 1984, when controversy suddenly erupted over his association with presidential candidate Jesse Jackson. Farrakhan, who had earlier counseled his devoted followers to avoid political involvements, had thrown his movement behind Jackson, providing, in addition to rhetorical support before African American audiences, bodyguards for the candidate. Farrakhan had registered to vote for the first time and urged his followers to do the same. Jackson had returned the favor by appearing as the featured speaker at the Muslim Savior's Day rally in February 1984.

In March, however, Farrakhan condemned Milton Coleman, an African American reporter for Washington Post, as a traitor after Coleman disclosed that Jackson had, in a conversation with campaign aides, referred to Jews as "Hymies" and to New York City as "Hymietown." In a speech, Farrakhan said of Coleman, "One day soon we will punish you with death," although he later denied that he was threatening Coleman's life. In the ensuing controversy it became known that Farrakhan had acclaimed Hitler as "a very great man" and had pronounced Judaism a "gutter religion." He also described the creation of Israel as an "outlaw act." Jackson never repudiated Farrakhan's support, but the Muslim's profile was lowered throughout the rest of the campaign.

Controversy about Farrakhan deepened when it became known that during the 1980s he had visited Libya and received a $5-million interest-free loan from dictator Muammar Gaddafi to help build Muslim institutions and businesses. Farrakhan explained that he sought to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for African American self-improvement programs from all of the groups, including Arabs, that had been involved in the slave trade and the destruction of African culture.

After his time of greatest publicity during the presidential campaign of 1984, Farrakhan continued his extensive public speaking schedule and continued to wield influence among African Americans far beyond the membership of his own movement. He and his wife, Betsy, had nine children and lived in a mainly white upscale neighborhood on the far South Side of Chicago.

In 1993, on his 60th birthday, Farrakhan performed a violin concert on Chicago's South Side in an attempt to better his image. The "concert" was held at a Temple, in hopes that tensions between Farrakhan and the Jewish community could be mended. Besides the "Clean n Fresh" product line, Farrakhan opened a $5 million restaurant in March 1995. The Salaam Restaurant and Bakery was built with funds collected from followers and the sale of the Final Call, an Islamic newspaper.

Farrakhan has always had a loyal following. This fact was most evident on October 16, 1995 in Washington D.C. Farrakhan had called upon at least one million African American men to converge on the nation's capital to reinvigorate their community. The "Million Man March" was to create a solidarity amongst the African American community. Many feel that the march was also designed to help bridge a gap between white and African America. Farrakhan had support from the likes of Maya Angelou, Jesse Jackson, Stevie Wonder and a host of other notable personalities. The march surprised many, not only because of the sheer force of attendance, but because Farrakhan was able to not only promote, but deliver a non-violent protest in Washington D.C.

Further Reading

Farrakhan has given few interviews and has not been the subject of a major biographical study. One helpful article is Clarence Page's "Deciphering Farrakhan," in Chicago magazine (August 1984). The Nation of Islam's newspaper, The Final Call, provides a general exposition of Farrakhan's outlook. Other articles pertaining to Farrakhan include "No Innocent Abroad" by Jack E. White, Time (February 26, 1996) and "Million Man March" by Eric Pooley, Time (October 16, 1995). □

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Farrakhan, Louis

Louis Farrakhan (fâr´əkăn´, fär´əkän´), 1933–, African-American religious leader, b. New York City, as Louis Eugene Walcott. A former calypso singer known as "The Charmer," he joined the Nation of Islam (Black Muslims) in 1955, eventually becoming minister of the Harlem Temple after Malcolm X broke with the religious group. After Elijah Muhammad died and his son steered the Black Muslims toward Sunni Islamic practice, Farrakhan founded (1977) a reorganized Nation of Islam that adhered to the elder Muhammad's teachings. Often denounced as anti-Semitic and antiwhite, Farrakhan has stridently criticized white Americans while emphasizing African-American self-improvement. In 1995 he was one of the chief organizers of the Million Man March, a day of renewal for African-American men in Washington, D.C. In 2000, Farrakhan publicly reconciled with W. Deen Mohammed, Elijah's son. In 2006, Farrakhan, suffering from illness, gave the day-to-day responsibilities for running the Nation of Islam to its executive board.

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Farrakhan, Louis

Farrakhan, Louis (1933– ) US leader of the Nation of Islam, a black separatist organization. A controversial figure, he was recruited into the Black Muslims in the 1950s by Malcolm X. Farrakhan was a charismatic advocate of its racial exclusivity. In 1976 he formed the Nation of Islam, which claimed greater adherence to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad. His powerful oratory stresses the importance of self-discipline, family values and community regeneration. His speeches often contain inflammatory anti-white, anti-Semitic and anti-homosexual remarks. In 1995, he organized a large political demonstration, assembling 400,000 men in a ‘Million Man March’ on Washington, D.C.

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