Louis Farrakhan

Louis Farrakhan (1990)
Duration: 00:29:22

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Themes: Leadership | Religion and Spiritual Life | Urban Challenges |

Guests: Louis Farrakhan, Rasul Muhammad
Host : Trudy Gallant
Producer : Carlota Almanza

Summary: Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam has been an important and controversial leader in the African American community since the late 1970s. A powerfully charismatic speaker, he was the primary organizer of the Million Man March in 1995. While many African Americans found the Million Man March to be a deeply inspirational event, Farrakhan has also been sharply criticized for his organization's separatist ideas and for comments that many considered anti-Semitic.

This program was broadcast in late 1990, a few weeks after Farrakhan appeared in Detroit to celebrate the Nation of Islam's 60th anniversary. Through video clips from Farrakhan's news conference at the celebration and an interview with the organization's Detroit leader, Minister Rasul Muhammad, host Trudy Gallant explores the history of the Nation of Islam and the controversy over Farrakhan's comments.

The video clips from Farrakhan's news conference highlight the Nation of Islam's historic connection to the city of Detroit, where the organization was founded by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1930. Farrakhan speaks about the group's launch of a new antiviolence campaign.

But the program also includes a specific response by Farrakhan to criticism of his comments. Many interpreted his statements as praise for Adolph Hitler and a dismissal of Judaism as a "gutter religion." Reports of the comments, Farrakhan says, were "a deliberate distortion of my words."

Farrakhan asserts that his words were distorted by the news media "because any black man who rises and gains influence over black people, whom white people do not control, there is a fear among them that this person they do not control may take the blacks and the anger of blacks and turn it into a negative force that will pay retribution to white people for the evils that many of them have done and still are doing to black people."

Farrakhan says he respects all religions and opposes only injustice and evil. He argues that the United States must provide reparations for African Americans, to compensate for the suffering of slavery, just as it paid reparations to Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps during World War II. And he criticizes the United States effort in the first Gulf War.

"The sons of the rich are not going to be there," he says. "It will be poor whites, poor Chicanos, poor Native Americans, and poor blacks carrying the burden of American vital interest. Until America makes black people and our condition their vital interest, let the rich protect their vital interests."

Gallant interviews Minister Rasul Muhammad, who is the son of the Nation of Islam's founder. At local level, Muhammad says, the organization is focused on programs that promote black independence. He continued, saying the local organization is working to improve conditions in the city's housing projects. One plan would create a series of halfway houses to help troubled people get back on their feet.

The program provides valuable insight into Farrakhan, through his own words. It offers solid examples of the Nation of Islam's philosophy and programmatic approach to advancing the black community.