Economics was the theme of Minister Louis Farrakhan’s annual savior’s day message yesterday, as he called on the black community to pool its resources to amass land and to be more disciplined in its spending habits.
With about 10,000 followers in attendance at the University of Chicago Pavilion, according to the Associated Press, Farrakhan didn’t dwell very long on the reelection of President Obama during his three-hour speech. After the 2008 election, the minister’s message was more celebratory — but yesterday the 79-year-old Farrakhan was in more of a lecturing mood.
“Even though one of our own has reached the highest pinnacle of the American political system, his presence has not, cannot and will not solve our problems,” Farrakhan told the crowd.
He called on his followers to pool “pennies, nickels and dimes,” a total of 35 cents from each wage earner every week, to amass wealth that would be used to buy farms and other land. He said he would turn to “gang-bangers” to protect their property.
“America is for sale,” Farrakhan said. “But we are not owning it. We helped build this. Our sweat and blood was used to protect it. Shouldn’t we be co-owners of it? You’ve got to think like that now. I don’t want to walk streets that we don’t own.”
Ishmael Muhammad, the Nation of Islam’s national assistant minister, told the Associated Press that the Nation has more than 1,500 acres of farmland in Georgia and is looking to buy thousands more acres in the Midwest.
Minister Farrakhan had harsh words for the black community for its spending habits, which he said included $3.3 billion a year on tobacco, $3 billion on whiskey, wine and beer, $2.8 billion on non-alcoholic beverages and $19 billion a year on telephone services.
“No wonder the FBI knows everything about you,” Farrakhan said.
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Economic self-reliance has long been a key aspect of the Nation of Islam’s message since its founding in the 1930’s.
Farrakhan touched on the national gun debate and its connection to the violence that has brought a national spotlight to Chicago.
“That’s where the Second Amendment comes in for us,” he said.
He said the constitutional right to bear arms is not even relevant in the black community because the community is flooded with illegal weapons. He did say, however, that he respects the value of the Second Amendment in warding off government tyranny.
“The Second Amendment has no relevance to the black community in this sense,” he said. “All your weapons are illegal and you’re using them like a savage people.”
The Nation has had a prominent role in Chicago in trying to squelch the violence in the streets, holding workshops and walking the streets to combat violence in recent months.
“The effort is to promote peace in the streets. Our first effort is to introduce ourselves to the community,” Muhammad said. “So many feel neglected and abandoned.”