Minister Louis Farrakhan outlined his theory of change to Philadelphians, the largest contingent at the ‘Million Man March’ twenty years ago.
By the time Minister Louis Farrakhan took to the podium in Philadelphia last night, shortly after 7pm, Tindley Temple – the historic church on Broad Street where the rally was held – was on the brink of maximum occupancy.
The minister’s charisma and sharp tone has always helped him churn out an audience, and for those who value his lectures, the idea of time and distance becomes seemingly unimportant.
Minister Farrakhan noted that at least two Philadelphians twenty years ago walked to Washington D.C. for the Million Man March, and his nearly two-hour speech, though spanning an array of societal issues and talking points, had his audience – a large portion which had begun standing in line outside the church at 4pm – captivated, with some urging him to “take his time” as he hinted to a conclusion.
The temperature in the old church, which is devoid of air-conditioning, caused spectators to seek items which could alleviate warmth, as the ceiling fans performed only minor mitigation.
But as the night went on, and, as the minister noted, the “word got hotter,” the room became tepid.
In the audience were familiar Philadelphia faces, among them: Mr. Bernard Hopkins, a famous boxer and promoter; Mr. Kenny Gamble, a legendary song writer and producer; Mr. Henry Nicholas, longtime President of 1199c, a national union for hospital and healthcare employees; and Mr. Sylvester Johnson, the former Philadelphia Police Commissioner who, since being succeeded by Mr. Charles Ramsey, has moved to Delaware.
From his audience, Minister Farrakhan received frequent standing ovations, similar to how the President is lauded during the State of the Union address.
And in some ways, the minister was giving a state of the union address, one particularly about the current state of Black America, which is wealthy in numbers – a more than trillion dollar buying power – but poor in stewardship of those resources – spending the majority of it with “the White man.”
Earlier yesterday, Minister Farrakhan sat down for a wide-ranging interview with Mr. Larry Miller and Mr. Johann Calhoun of the Philadelphia Tribune, the nation’s oldest continually running African-American newspaper.
Mr. Miller, said the minister, inquired how the reality of black life in Philly (and in America) can be augmented to, at the very least, narrowly mirror that of those who are doing well, socially and financially.
Minister Farrakhan’s answer: it all starts with you.
“What’s missing is the knowledge of self; if you don’t know yourself, you can’t love yourself,” the minister said, adding that “self-love brings about self-determination, and if we had that, we could start turning things around.”
During his speech, Minister Farrakhan, who admired Martin Luther King, Jr., from a distance but was mentored by Malcolm X, spoke with equal force about community and state-sanctioned violence, calling for an end to the murders – like those that occurred over the weekend in Philadelphia and Chicago – which some statistics say are on the rise in major U.S. cities, and blaming cops for the radicalization of the black man.
To the issue of community violence – more commonly referred to as black-on-black crime – the minister is seeking “10,000 fearless men who will go into the hood and stand in between the guns.”
Upon first hearing this, it may seem like a far-fetched goal, but the minister in 1988 organized a few good men who kicked out drug dealers from the Mayfair Mansion Housing Projects in Washington, D.C. and returned it back to a livable space for neighbors to enjoy.
“We got to stop the killings,” he said, “don’t our children deserve to play in a neighborhood without fear of being struck by a stray bullet?”
To the issue of state-sanctioned violence – commonly referred to as police brutality – the minister wants to use the trillion dollar purchasing power as a weapon to “re-distribute the pain.”
“Black Friday is coming; we’re boycotting the White man’s Christmas, but we’re not boycotting Jesus.”
All the “fantastic foolishness” done in the name of Jesus from Black Friday to New Year’s Day should be halted, suggested the minister.
Though the minister’s sermon was laced with anecdotes, tips, spouts of rage and moments of love, his message was clear: from community to state-sanctioned violence, black Americans must clean up where they live.
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Photo: The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan speaks at Tindley Temple in Philadelphia/C. Norris – ©2015