- Leader of the Nation of Islam
- Orchestrated the 1995 “Million Man March”
- Renowned for his hatred of Whites and Jews
The current leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI), Louis Farrakhan was born Louis Eugene Walcott on May 11, 1933 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. As a young man in Boston, he became a popular entertainer as a calypso singer, dancer, and violinist. While in Chicago in February 1955, he was invited by a friend to attend a Nation of Islam Saviours' Day Convention at a local mosque. Soon thereafter Farrakhan joined NOI.
In the 1960s Farrakhan developed a strong enmity toward fellow NOI member Malcolm X, who backed a more moderate vision of black civil rights than did Farrakhan. When Malcolm in 1964 publicly revealed that NOI leader Elijah Muhammad had impregnated several of his teenage secretaries, Farrakhan, outraged at what he perceived to be Malcolm's disloyalty, called him a traitor and denounced him in the NOI newspaper Muhammad Speaks: "Only those who wish to be led to hell, or to their doom, will follow Malcolm. The die is set, and Malcolm shall not escape, especially after such evil, foolish talk about his benefactor; such a man is worthy of death and would have been met with death if it had not been for Muhammad's confidence in Allah for victory over his enemies." Ten weeks later, on February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was killed in Harlem's Audubon Ballroom by three gunmen with ties to NOI.
As recently as 1993, Farrakhan tried to justify Malcolm X's assassination when he said in a speech, "Was Malcolm your traitor or ours? And if we dealt with [Malcolm] like a nation deals with a traitor, what the hell business is it of yours? A nation has to be able to deal with traitors and cutthroats and turncoats." In May 1995, however, Farrakhan spoke for the first time in repentant tones about the slaying, and admitted to having "helped create the atmosphere" that led to it. "I may have been complicit in words that I spoke leading up to 21 February," he said. "I acknowledge that and regret that any word that I have said caused the loss of life of a human being." Immediately thereafter, however, he named the U.S. government as the real villain that had fomented zeal and bitterness inside NOI's ranks.
In 1984 Farrakhan issued another death threat against someone he perceived to be a race traitor. After a black Washington Post reporter named Milton Coleman publicly revealed that presidential candidate Jesse Jackson had referred to Jews as "Hymies" and to New York City as "Hymietown," Farrakhan told Coleman: "One day soon we will punish you with death."
Farrakhan also has a long, well-documented history of venom-laced references to the "white devils" and Jewish "bloodsuckers" who purportedly decimate America's black community from coast to coast. He has referred to Judaism as a "gutter religion," and to Adolf Hitler as "a great man" -- though he later claimed that he had meant only that Hitler was "wickedly great." He has made innumerable statements depicting whites and Jews as loathsome, racist oppressors of blacks.
In 1997, for example, the Clarion-Ledger reported Farrakhan’s characterization of “the white man” as the “anti-Christ.” In a 1997 Meet The Press interview, Farrakhan stated, “It is not accidental that the black male is in the condition he is in,” and he charged that there was a “conspiracy of our government against the black male.” In August 1997, the New York Amsterdam News quoted Farrakhan stating, “A decree of death has been passed on America. The judgment of God has been rendered and she must be destroyed.” A month later the NOI newspaper The Final Call (formerly called Muhammad Speaks) reported Farrakhan’s assertion that just as African Americans are under a “death decree” from the U.S. government, America is similarly under a “decree of death from God.” “There is no wicked nation in the past that approaches the evil that is practiced in America on a daily basis,” said Farrakhan on another occasion.
In March 2000 the Philadelphia Inquirer quoted Farrakhan saying, “White people are potential humans ... they haven’t evolved yet.” At other times, he has referred to whites as “vicious beasts” and “the skunks of the planet.” Additional noteworthy Farrakhan statements include the following:
On numerous occasions, Farrakhan has made alliances with avowed foreign enemies of the United States. In January 1996, for instance, he formed a partnership with Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi, who pledged $1 billion to help Farrakhan develop a Muslim political lobby in the U.S. According to Libya’s official news agency Jana, Qadhafi announced: “We agreed with Louis Farrakhan and his delegation to mobilize in a legal and legitimate form the oppressed minorities -- and at their forefront the blacks, Arab Muslims and Red Indians -- for they play an important role in American political life and have a weight in U.S. elections.” The Jana story further stated that Qadhafi and Farrakhan had pledged to fight America from the "inside." “Our confrontation with America,” said Qadhafi, “was [previously] like a fight against a fortress from outside, and today [with the NOI alliance] we found a breach to enter into this fortress and confront it.”
This was not Farrakhan's first friendly encounter with Qadhafi. Eleven years earlier, the Libyan strongman had granted NOI a $5 million interest-free loan, in gratitude for which Farrakhan later visited Libya to personally thank his benefactor. Qadhafi once told a crowd of NOI followers at a Chicago convention that he sought to sponsor an armed black revolution in America. On yet another occasion, Farrakhan and his aides -- violating a travel ban imposed on Americans by President Reagan -- flew to Tripoli to meet with Qadhafi, whom Farrakhan has proudly called “a friend,” “a brother,” and “a fellow struggler in the cause of liberation for our people.”
In 1996 and again the following year, Farrakhan went on "World Friendship Tours" to exchange pleasantries with government leaders in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Sudan -- all of which were on the State Department's list of nations that supported terrorism. Many times during these tours, Farrakhan publicly denounced the United States as “the Great Satan.” Particularly noteworthy was his visit as an honored guest of Sudan's Islamic fundamentalist government, which had slaughtered a million black Christians and enslaved hundreds of thousands of its black inhabitants.
Before Farrakhan left Iran for Syria in 1996, a Tehran newspaper quoted him saying: “God will destroy America by the hands of the Muslims. … God will not give Japan or Europe the honor of bringing down the United States; this is an honor God will bestow upon Muslims.”
In Baghdad, Farrakhan met with Saddam Hussein and expressed his hope that the U.S. would “halt its mass murder of Iraqis” -- a reference to the economic hardships caused by the post-Gulf War sanctions imposed on Iraq.
In February 1998, Farrakhan sent a cordial and supportive letter to Saddam: “Your Excellency, we who have grown up in Islam inside of America understand that the West wants to destroy you, sir, in order to make an example out of your destruction to all strong Muslim leaders. You are a visionary, and they want to destroy your vision! If they are able to bring you down, that will serve as a warning to Brother [Qadhafi] in Libya; to Brothers Hassan Turabi and [President] Omar Bashir in the Sudan; it will mean a setback for the goal of unity [among Muslims].”
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Farrakhan stated that America had insufficient proof of Osama bin Laden's and al-Qaeda's culpability. "They [American government officials] have lied before," he said, "and there's no guarantee they're not lying now."
Appearing on CNN’s Late Edition in 2002, Farrakhan portrayed America’s contemplated attack on Iraq as an unprovoked act of aggression against a regime that posed no tangible threat to the U.S. “I would feel so much better,” he said, “if the government of the United States of America would not seek to make Saddam Hussein a trophy for the reelection of President Bush. Saddam Hussein is not responsible for the collapse of Enron and thousands of American citizens losing their life savings.” Added Farrakhan: “[S]anctions [are] a weapon of mass destruction [against the Iraqi people]. America is angry with Saddam Hussein because his people love him. And they want to punish the Iraqi people to make the Iraqi people rise up and overthrow Saddam. They [the Iraqis] had a so-called election, a referendum. Ninety-nine percent of the people vote[d] for their man. You can't get that in America. They love their man.”
On Black Entertainment Television in July 2002, Farrakhan asked, “How is America so righteous, with blood dripping from [its] hands of the peoples of the world? How has America all of a sudden become so righteous that she can now go to Iraq and set that man [Saddam] down?”
In the February 17, 2005 issue of The Final Call, Farrakhan condemned the United States for seeking "to change Islam, to make Islam suitable and non-threatening to Western hegemony over the entire world." "[T]he war [against Iraq] is not just against brutal dictators," he said. "The war, at the root, is against Islam. The government will not admit to that, but I see signs. … I say to you that there's no way that I, as a Muslim, could countenance my children or grandchildren fighting a war against fellow believers in any part of the world."
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina which devastated America’s Gulf Coast in August 2005, Farrakhan accused President Bush of ordering that one of New Orleans’ strategically located levees be dynamited so as to enable the flood waters to kill a maximum number of black people. “I heard from a very reliable source, who saw a 25-foot deep crater under the levee breach,” said Farrakhan “It may have been blown up to destroy the black part of town and keep the white part dry.”
For many years, Farrakhan has ranked among the most influential black figures in America. He draws enormous, standing-room-only crowds of listeners wherever he speaks. An October 1992 lecture he gave in Atlanta actually outdrew a World Series game played there that same night. In 1996 the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents 200 black-owned publishers, gave Farrakhan its “Newsmaker of the Year” award -- for which one criterion was the demonstration of “a higher level of moral authority.”
Farrakhan's October 16, 1995 "Million Man March" drew several hundred thousand attendees. Though officially billed as a "day of atonement," a significant portion of the event focused on America's historical and allegedly continuing assault on black people. "The real evil in America," Farrakhan said that day, "is the idea that undergirds the setup of the Western world, and that idea is called white supremacy." Among the notable individuals who helped Farrakhan organize the Million Man March were Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright, and Barack Obama.
In 2005 Farrakhan organized the Millions More Movement to mark the tenth anniversary of the Million Man March, and to demand that the U.S. government increase its spending on welfare programs designed to recompense blacks for the suffering that America has historically inflicted on them and their forebears.
Impugning the U.S. government for supporting "the State of Israel on Palestinian lands," Farrakhan has cultivated a friendly relationship with the leaders of Neturei Karta, a small Jewish organization that opposes Israel’s existence.
Farrakhan has been a mentor and role model to many black radicals, among the most notable being Malik Zulu Shabazz and the late Khalid Abdul Muhammad.
Addressing a crowd of some 20,000 people at the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours' Day celebration in February 2008, Farrakhan said that presidential candidate Barack Obama represented the "hope of the entire world" that the United States might become a better neighbor to other nations.
Also in February 2008, Farrakhan called Obama “a herald of the Messiah.” “Barack has captured the youth,” said the NOI leader, referring to the passionate support Obama had drawn from young people in America. “And he has involved young people in a political process that they didn’t care anything about. That’s a sign. When the messiah speaks, the youth will hear. And the messiah is absolutely speaking.”
Farrakhan is a longtime friend and ally of Michael Pfleger, pastor of Chicago's Saint Sabina Catholic Church. As of April 2008, he had preached in Pfleger's church on three separate occasions.
On September 21, 2010, Farrakhan dined with members of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at New York City's Warwick Hotel.
NBPP leader Malik Zulu Shabazz claims that on September 27, 2010 in New York City, he attended a secret meeting with Farrakhan, fifty Imams, and Ahmadinejad. When asked by an interviewer about this meeting, Shabazz did not reveal explicitly what was discussed, but implied that the participants had talked “about perhaps bringing natural gas and oil and other reparations [in compensation for past Arab slaving activities] into the black nation,” along with “other things—unmentionable.” Indicating that the tenor of the New York meeting was positive, he then said: “You know, there is no greater enemy than the white man. You know, uh, again we have to learn because it’s just as many Arabs who hate this white man as we do. So, am I not to ally myself, alliance myself with this Arab in fighting this white man?”
In March 2011, Farrakhan, reacting to President Barack Obama's decision to assist rebels who had recently launched an uprising against Libyan President Moammar Qadhafi, said: “I love Moammar Qadhafi, and I love our president. It grieves me to see my brother president set a policy that would remove this man not only from power, but from the earth.” Portraying Qadhafi as a fellow revolutionary and longtime friend of NOI, Farrakhan reported that the Libyan leader had lent the Nation of Islam some $8 million over the years.
In an April 10, 2012 speech at Alabama A&M University, Farrakhan referenced the Jewish tradition of the Prophet Elijah’s arrival at every doorway on Passover night, and said: “If Elijah was at the door and he was black, you would call 911 and say there’s a n****r at the door, claiming he’s Elijah! Send the police!” This, Farrakhan explained, was “because you are not trained to accept wisdom from a black person, no matter how wise that black person is.” Further, the minister asserted that "Jesus was a black man” and "a Muslim."
In the same speech, Farrakhan said: “White people suffer from the false notion that white skin makes them superior. And we suffer from the falsehood that the blackness of our skin makes us inferior. So we’re bowing to white supremacy and manifesting black inferiority.”
In June 2012, Farrakhan verbalized his high regard for the Church of Scientology (COS), the religious cult founded by the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. The connection between NOI and COS first became apparent in 2006, when the latter honored Farrakhan at that year's Ebony Awakening Awards ceremony. Farrakhan's interest in COS initially focused on Scientology’s controversial drug-rehabilitation program, known as Narconon, which was first brought to NOI mosques in Los Angeles at approximately that same time. Known for its harsh methodologies, the program claims to detoxify its subjects through vigorous exercise, hours in a sauna, and the ingestion of minerals, oils and vitamins.
Further, Farrakhan openly touts the use of “Dianetics,” a pseudoscience described by Hubbard as a ”spiritual-healing technology” that helps people to overcome the subconscious forces that compromise their physical, psychological, and moral well-being. Various NOI reports claim that between 700 and 1,000 NOI members have become Certified Hubbard Dianetics Auditors, who are trained to help people achieve higher levels of consciousness via methods reassembling a blend of confession, psychotherapy, and hypnosis.
According to Farrakhan, Hubbard's teachings can help heal “the hurt and sickness of my people”; i.e., the pain inflicted upon them by a racist world. COS also has the potential to “civilize” white people and prevent them from becoming “devil Christians” and “Satan Jews,” adds Farrakhan. “We are Muslims, but if Scientology will help us be better, then I want the technology of this to help us to be better Muslims,” he says.
Notably, Hubbard was reputedly a racist who thought poorly of blacks. Regarding this, Farrakhan says: “I wouldn’t care.... I found a tool that I know can help us, and I thank God for Mr. L. Ron Hubbard and I thank God for his research and teaching. He’s gone on now. So if he was a racist, that went in the ground. But I didn’t find racism in his book. If he was a hater, that went in the ground, but I didn’t find hate in his books. If he wanted nothing to do with black people, well maybe that’s in the ground.”
In the summer of 2013, Farrakhan said: “Even though we in 2013 are celebrating a two-term black president…the brother simply has not been able to repair the damage caused by centuries of racism [and] greed, which has now run this nation over a fiscal cliff.”
On September 24, 2013, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hosted a dinner-party reception for approximately 20 people at his One UN hotel room in New York City. One of those guests was Farrakhan, who was escorted to the event by Iranian secret-service officers.
Farrakhan was outraged when -- on August 9, 2014 -- a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed an 18-year-old black male named Michael Brown, who had committed a strong-armed robbery of a convenience store just a few minutes before his death. Some witnesses initially claimed, falsely, that Brown, just prior to being shot, had his hands raised above his head and was trying to peacefully surrender. When compelling ballistic, eyewitness, and forensic evidence eventually (in late October 2014) indicated that Michael Brown in fact had assaulted the officer and tried to steal his gun just prior to the fatal shooting, Farrakhan's outrage over the incident was undiminished. And when a grand jury announced on November 24, 2014 that it would not indict the officer—because of overwhelming evidence indicating that the shooting was done in self-defense—Farrakhan delivered a speech at at Morgan State University -- a black college located in Baltimore -- in which he stated that a violent response by blacks would be entirely justifiable under by the scriptural “law [of] retaliation.” For example:
- “We going to die anyway. Let’s die for something,” he told the crowd to loud applause.
- He urged parents of black teenagers to teach their kids how to throw Molotov cocktails: “Teach your baby how to throw the bottle if they can. Fight.”
- “As long as they [whites] kill us [blacks] and go to Wendy’s and have a burger and go to sleep, they’ll keep killing us,” said Farrakhan. “But when we die and they die, then soon we’re going to sit at a table and talk about it! We’re tired! We want some of this earth or we’ll tear this goddamn country up!”
- Farrakhan drew a standing ovation when he condemned black religious leaders who were urging black youth to show restraint and calm. "And you preachers," said Farrakhan. "Your day of being the pacifier for the white man’s tyranny upon black people, you got to know they’re [young blacks] not going to hear you anymore!"
- He demanded that President Obama tell "wicked" police departments nationwide "that your killing of Black youth and Brown youth is not going to hold no more."