Muslim Minister Louis Farrakhan urged a large audience at Southern University Wednesday night to educate themselves, be good Samaritans and to take care of their communities.
Farrakhan’s speaking engagement was organized by the Nation of Islam Student Association’s Southern chapter. But Farrakhan thanked the university too, calling it a great honor to speak at the school after several musical performances, poetry readings and remarks from Southern University Chancellor James Llorens.
In acknowledging that not everyone in the crowd of about 1,000 people have embraced the message of black nationalism promoted by the Chicago-based Nation of Islam since its founding in the 1930s, Farrakhan said of Llorens: “He knows that you are an intelligent student to weigh what you hear. And if it is worthy to accept it, you do. If not, you cast it aside.”
Farrakhan then jumped right into Southern’s recent financial difficulties, telling the crowd not to be complacent because President Barack Obama is in the White House.
“I didn’t come here to tell you that because we have a black president everything is going to be alright,” Farrakhan said. “The real burden is on us to do the things that will prepare us and our people.
Farrakhan, 79, told the crowd that black people can’t get by with just an average education, but have to seek out a superior education to succeed in America.
“A proper education will make us a productive people,” he said before noting that different ethnic groups come to the U.S. as immigrants and thrive through education and self-reliant community building. Farrakhan pointed to Gov. Bobby Jindal as an example.
“Here in Louisiana, you have an Indian as a governor,” he said. “If you look at it, Indians and Asians are some of the finest students in every institution in America, but the poor, black and brown are at the bottom of the education ladder. Now, how is that?”
Farrakhan said black people should adopt the models used by other groups to start businesses in black neighborhoods and use the profits to “build up our own communities.”
Black pride, he said, “is not racism, it’s about loving yourself.”
Farrakhan, who was flanked by bodyguards on stage and sprinkled humorous pop culture references throughout his speech, invoked Jesus Christ much of the night.
He said Jesus gave his followers two basic rules to live by: “Love God with all your heart,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
A strong love of God drives away the fear of speaking up for oneself he said. Black people, he admonished, are “too afraid to speak truth to power.”
Loving oneself inspires pride, which in turn sparks the goodwill to help others in need, Farrakhan counseled.
“To be a Muslim means you submit yourself to do the will of God. All prophets: Jesus, Moses and Muhammad did that,” Farrakhan said.
But Farrakhan also used that theme to say black people shouldn’t use the names given to them by slave masters. Other cultures, he said, were not robbed of their culture and names as blacks in America were, and that part of loving oneself is to research the history of black exceptionalism and embrace it.
Farrakhan also rejected the violence ignited by the recent anti-Islamic video that ridiculed Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, which sparked protests on U.S. embassies around the Middle East and in North Africa.
“The people who are desecrating the memory of the Prophet Muhammad are manifesting ignorance,” he said. “You don’t kill the ignorant, you teach the ignorant.”
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved