It was 28 years ago in late February 1981 when, at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago, Minister Louis Farrakhan announced the “Rebirth of the Nation of Islam.”
Thousands of members and supporters of the Nation of Islam—some traveling they said on their “lean camels”—flocked to Rosemont, a suburban town north of Chicago to participate in the Nation of Islam’s four-day annual Saviours’ Day 2009 convention.
As in years past, elders and children alike attended dozens of workshops, seminars, a town-hall meeting, fairs, and righteous entertainment events, culminating with a stirring three-hour address by the Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan, to commemorate the 132nd birth anniversary of Master W. Fard Muhammad—the founder of the Nation of Islam in North America—on Feb. 26, 1877.
Several activists, intellectuals and entertainers were in attendance. Calvin Broadus, known popularly as Snoop Dogg, credited Min. Farrakhan with helping bring peace to the Hip-Hop community after rapper Notorious B.I.G. was killed in 1997.
“That's why I'm here today: to show my support,” Mr. Broadus said. He also showed his support by making a $1,000 contribution to the Nation.
Hip-Hop artist Clifford Harris—known as T.I.—who was unable to make a scheduled travel connection to be at the meeting in person, showed his support by speaking via recorded video, telling attendees and his fans that education is the key to success in all of life’s ventures.
Min. Farrakhan’s message has continually evolved during this past 28 years. Even before Pres. Barack Obama’s election created a national obsession to proclaim a “post racial” America because a Black man was elected president, the Minister’s message has been one that appeals to Blacks of course, as well as to many, many Latinos, Asians, and even Caucasians who were in attendance.
“I think it was one of the Minister’s most enlightening” speeches, the Rev. Dr. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina’s Faith Community told me.
“The courage in it, facing us and calling us to deal with the truth, and America to deal with the truth, as well as the charge that we have to come together, that we need to be the stimulus for this country, but it has to be based on truth, and it has to be based on facing what is destroying America,” said Father Pfleger, a White Catholic priest.
It is the new-old Nation of Islam in a new day and time, celebrating the 28th anniversary of the rebirth of a something with no birth record, a movement which never really died.
Pictured at top, Calvin Broadus (a.k.a. Snoop Dogg) with renowned Black Nationalist scholars: 92-year-old Ambassador Dudley Thompson of Jamaica who defended Kenyan President Jomo Kenyata when he was accused of being a Mau Mau during Kenya's independence struggle; and Dr. Conrad Worrill, of Chicago's Center for Inner City Studies. Below, attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz, leader of the New Black Panther Party greets Palestinian writer Ali Baghdadi.