[Editor’s note: On January 24, 1994, approximately 20,000 men learned principles of manhood at the 369th Armory in New York, N.Y. when the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan started his first of a series of Ã¢â‚¬Å“Let Us Make ManÃ¢â‚¬Â men-only lectures. The following article contains excerpts from this message highlighting the need for Black men to discover their own God-given ability to produce and cultivate, and to serve as the head of their families and a force of good in their communities.]
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.
To all of the ministers of the Gospel who are present tonight; imams, political leaders, teachers, professionals, intellectuals; the brothers on the street, and the homeless: It is one of the greatest honors of my life to be in New York tonight to speak to you, the men of our community.
It has never been in the Nation of Islam’s history to call a meeting to discriminate against women, for we know, as students of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, he taught us that where there are no decent women, there are no decent men; and that no nation can rise any higher than its women, so we are not discriminatory against women.
Nor are we trying to be discriminatory against White men. However, when we look at the condition of our community, it is not White women, or Black women, for that matter, who are filling the morgues of the cities of the United States; it is young Black men being killed by young Black men. Therefore, that tells any human being who loves his people that we have a problem in our community that can’t be solved by more police and more jails. The problem in the inner cities of America can only be solved by more justice, particularly to the man. So I came here tonight to have a brotherly, fatherly chat with the men.
To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time in history that a Black man has called together in a city, menÃ¢â‚¬â€Black men. And naturally, it induces fear, because some say, and fear, that we will Ã¢â‚¬Å“radicalizeÃ¢â‚¬Â Black men, and create mischief in the society. That is not our purpose. Our purpose is to discuss with men how God intends for a man to act; and then let us choose whether we want to act like the product of a slave past, or whether we want to act and become the product of God’s presence among us.
Before our talk is over, I want White America to see that genocide against Black people is not necessary. First of all, it can’t happen; and lastly, it is not in the best interest of this nation to kill Black men wholesale. Nor is it in our best interest for us to kill one another to the joy of those who have already destroyed us and our families.
Rise up and accept your responsibility
Too many of us are locked down and too many of us are locked up, meaning, locked up in the prison of ignorance that does not allow us to be the men that we know we are capable of being.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad developed a methodology of bringing out of the Black man what God has put within, so that we could learn to respect ourselves and to respect one another. He refused to allow us as men, in the men’s class which is called the Fruit of Islam (F.O.I.), to Ã¢â‚¬Å“front each other off,Ã¢â‚¬Â even playing like we were going to fight one another, because he was teaching us that our flesh and blood are sacred. It’s not only sacred to you, but your flesh and your blood must be sacred to all of us, so that we understand that to harm one of us is the same as an attack on The God Who created our flesh and our blood, and made it sacred to us. He also told us to refer to one another as Ã¢â‚¬Å“brotherÃ¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬â€so we stopped using Ã¢â‚¬Å“slang names.Ã¢â‚¬Â We had to call each other brother, because he wanted to reinforce the fact that we are brothers. And as brothers, we should never harm one another.
Then the Honorable Elijah Muhammad asked us, as I am asking you: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Take all the weapons out of your pockets and out of your homes. You don’t need a weapon, if you have Allah (God).Ã¢â‚¬Â In a world like this, we all carried something for our protection, but we never knew how to walk with God. Once the Honorable Elijah Muhammad made The Knowledge of God clear to us that He is not some spook way out in space, but He is a Reality that is so present, we found out that when you call on Him, it doesn’t take time to receive an answer. You get an instant answer.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said we were too ignorant and savage in our behavior to have weapons, because the moment we make each other angry, the first thing we do is what? Reach for the weapon. We don’t reach up for intelligence; we reach in for something to harm our brother. So, statistics bear witness that most of the killing that is done is in the home. It’s done to members of our families, or someone who we are very well acquainted with. In passion and in anger, after argument over some frivolous thing, we reach for the weapon at hand and do each other inÃ¢â‚¬â€and then spend the rest of our life regretting what we have done. But if we didn’t have the weapon, and had a system by which we could settle our disputes one with another, then we could argue our point, seeking truth and justice, and never have to resort to violence among the brothers. We have to make a pledge that we will not lift our hands to harm our brother or sister, and that we will suffer the insult of one another peacefully, and will not reach for a weapon to solve a problem between the members of the family.
But the problem has been that we really have grown so cold; that we don’t have love for ourselves, much less a fellow member of the family. That is a condition produced by this society. This society is, and has been, destructive to the Black male. This is why it is necessary for us to come together, because the problem of our community is our problem. And unless we, as men, rise up to take our responsibility, then our women and girls and our children will have no reason to honor us and respect us as the head of our house and the head of our own community.
Cultivate the God in you
Black man, Hispanic man; Black brother, Hispanic brother: We are family. Let’s take a deeper look now at what society has done and what we must now do, to get out of the condition that we’re in. Together, we’ll get out of it.
In the Bible, after God created the heavens and the earth, parted the waters, created day and night, He realized that there was no man to till the ground that He made. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I made the ground, but there is no man.Ã¢â‚¬Â There is no man. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us that Ã¢â‚¬Å“no man to till the groundÃ¢â‚¬Â means that you are already here, but are uncultivated, undeveloped. You are the ground; you are like the earth itself. All of the things that we need to be successful are not out in spaceÃ¢â‚¬â€it’s right here in you. The field is ready, so the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Big fields are awaiting the wide awake man to work out.Ã¢â‚¬Â It was a field, but there was no man to till the ground.
In the Muslim prayer service, the caller to prayer says, Haya Ã¢â‚¬Ëœala Salat (Come to prayer; the Remembrance of God); and then he says, Haya Ã¢â‚¬Ëœala Fallah. The scholars translate the word fallah to mean Ã¢â‚¬Å“success,Ã¢â‚¬Â but success at doing what? The word fallah is the basic word for fallahin, an Arabic word describing the people who till the soil and cultivate the earth.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Come to prayer; come to cultivation.Ã¢â‚¬Â Without God, you cannot cultivate, or develop, what God has put within you. We need a Divine farmer to cultivate the earth. But there was no man, so God said: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Let Us make man.Ã¢â‚¬Â How are you going to make him, God? Ã¢â‚¬Å“In Our image, after Our likeness.Ã¢â‚¬Â There is a lot in those words.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Let Us make a man in Our image and after Our likeness,Ã¢â‚¬Â means, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Let Us make a GodÃ¢â‚¬â€less than We, but he will have force and power, like God. And Let Us give him dominion; give him rule. Let’s give him power, so that he can exercise his will in his domain, like we exercise Our Will over the heavens and the earth. Let’s make man in Our image and after Our likeness. Let’s give him power and dominion over the fowl of the air, the fish of the sea and every creeping thing that crawls upon the earth. And let’s order them to multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
A producer is never hopeless
In my message at the Jacob Javits Center (Ã¢â‚¬Å“Stop The Killing!Ã¢â‚¬Â December 18, 1993), we were saying to you brothers that any man who is not producing is a man who is not living up to the nature in which he is created.
Every one of you is a producer. Not some of usÃ¢â‚¬â€all of us. But look: We weren’t brought to America to be made producers. That’s the critical thing to understand. By bringing us to America to make us slaves, the enemy was, in effect, interfering with the Divine Order of God in us to be producers. So since two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time, if the White man is to rule, then in order for him to rule, the power of rulership in us would have to be put to sleep; or, to death.
How do you put to sleep the power of productivity and rule in a whole people?
When Adam was made, the scripture teaches, Ã¢â‚¬Å“God breathed into him and he became a living soul.Ã¢â‚¬Â How did you breathe into him, God? If atmosphere is already here and the power in oxygen, inhaled by the new life, is what energizes the blood, and the heart starts pumping, then God did not have to actively intervene, to breathe. All we had to do was inhale, and the breath physically came in and started the body to become alive.
But no manÃ¢â‚¬â€please pay attentionÃ¢â‚¬â€is alive with just physical breath in his body. The only way we, as men, are considered alive is if God breathes into us The Breath of His Life. Only then we become a living man who has power; who is going to take dominion, and you’re going to become a producer. But if God doesn’t breathe into you, then you’re alive from the neck down, but dead from the neck up, so another man can put you to work to produce for him, and you never enjoy the fruit of your labor.
Since slavery, White men have feared the rise of the Black man. And it seems as though they have a whole wing of scientists that work to keep us in the condition that we are in.
Did you know that the economics of this world has sentenced the Black man to death? How many of you don’t have a job? Of those of you who don’t have jobs, how many of you have families to support? Question: How can a Black man support his family without employment or without money? That’s why the drug man enters; that’s how we become accustomed to thinking now. We use our brain to think up all kinds of schemes to make a dollar, because in this world if you don’t have money, you can’t make it.
The enemy to our rise acts as though Black men don’t have dreams; Black men don’t have high desires. They put on television these fine automobiles and homes. They show us the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous,Ã¢â‚¬Â as though they don’t think that is inspiring to us to want what some others have, particularly since our fathers worked from Ã¢â‚¬Å“can’t see morning to can’t see nightÃ¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬â€every day of the week and every day of the yearÃ¢â‚¬â€for 310 long years to build the economy of the families and cities and states in America. We have never benefited from our fathers’ sweat and blood.
Don’t you think Black men want the best for themselves and their families? Of course we do. But if every opportunity for gainful employment is closed to us, but open to our wives, or our girlfriends, then the very economic structure in America is undermining the Black man.
Brothers, what does it do to you as a man with your wife making more money than you? What does that do to your esteem, when you don’t have a job and you’ve got to go to your girlfriend and beg to borrow money, or her car? You become like her grown child and her voice is not soft and sweet when she talks to you. The children don’t like you, because you can’t even buy the children the cheapest of toys. After a while, you ease out of the house; and you’re down on the corner with the other brothers who are not working either. You’re in the barber shop or in the pool room, talking stuff. You want to be a man, but you get to the point when you lose all hope. You get to the point when you don’t expect anything better than what you’ve already have.
You live in a project house, where your mother lived, and your grandmother lived, so you say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Aww man! I’m not going to get out of this.Ã¢â‚¬Â You don’t even expect to get out of the condition that you’re in. You’ve lost hope, and you’ve become so angry, so bitter, so filled with self-hate that a man can come in your community and sell you a gun. God did say that He would give you power, but when you put that gun in your hand, it gives you a false sense of power. And that sense of power, because of the condition of your mind, causes you to commit murder.
Do for self and community
By Divine Providence, I was blessed to come to the Jacob Javits Center, where I asked the question of the Black men in that audience, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Would you help me to make our communities a decent place to live?Ã¢â‚¬Â And by Divine Providence, you stood and you said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yes Brother Farrakhan, we will do it.Ã¢â‚¬Â And so I proposed a meeting of Black men and here we are. But it’s bigger than us in this room tonight. Each one of you is now being deputized to help save our people, not just in New York. But if we can do it in New York, which is the capital of Black America, we can save our nation all over the country and send a signal throughout the world!
Brothers: This is a sacred gathering tonight, and the destiny of Black America will be in our hands tonight. If we can clean up our community in New York, then we can do it all over America. I’m going to ask the aid of all of the leaders, preachers, imams and congressmen. Why? Because if you accept to discipline yourself as of tonight, to make a commitment to clean yourself up just a degree, by tomorrow, you’ll be better than what you are tonight. We, your brothers, are not doing anything that you can’t do, and do even better than we are doing it. We are before you to show you what can be done when Black men, in The Name of God, decide that we want to make a change in our lives.
This body of men can save a nation. We want to breathe into you the knowledge that was breathed into us, that you, like we, can strive to become men that our wives and children will love and respect. My wife of 40 years loves her husband more today than she did 40 years ago, because I am more of a man today than I was 40 years ago. My children stand with me and work with me for the elevation of Black people, male and female. So, I don’t want this to be a one Ã¢â‚¬Å“happy night,Ã¢â‚¬Â and then we go back to Ã¢â‚¬Å“business as usual.Ã¢â‚¬Â In this audience tonight are some of the most brilliant and prepared Black men in the city of New York. But what good will our brilliance do if it is not used and shared with all of these young men so they can become as brilliant as those who have this brilliance?
Brothers, first we have to get the knowledge, and the training of how to use the knowledge. But without money, this isn’t going to work. We can’t tell a man who’s making money selling drugs, put down the drug if you don’t give him something to pick up on. Brothers, you ought to know that Caucasians are not going to open their factories for you, so unless we are prepared to create jobs for ourselves, it’s not going to happen. You may say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“That’s real difficult.Ã¢â‚¬Â No it’s not. The only difficulty is the difficulty in getting past negative thinking. That’s the difficulty.
Brothers, if we don’t have any jobs, then we must create a job. And the way we create jobs is Ã¢â‚¬Å“take what you’ve got.Ã¢â‚¬Â And what you have is yourself. Train yourself to become a master salesman. Every day we’re selling something, and we have in this audience tonight master sales people. So, you’ve got yourself; now all you need to do is to grow the knowledge and the technique. We must not only go to discipline our community, but we must go to offer our community a product that our community needs that will put money in our pocket, so that we will be gainfully employed.
I want you to commit yourself that you are willing to work, to make an example for the hopeless. That you came, you heard Farrakhan, and you said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Man I’m going to make a change.Ã¢â‚¬Â The people outside may say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Aww! That jive turkey, he ain’t going toÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â But when they see you make the move, and become successful, they will want to follow the path you are taking for good.
May Allah (God) feed life into this body of men, that we may go forward to make our own communities a decent place to live. May His Word bury deeply into the hearts of each one and bring up new life in us and give us power over the things that have made us a mockery.