On May 11, 2003, Minister Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam turned 70 years old. Minister Farrakhan has had a most interesting life since the early age of 6 years old when he began his violin lessons.
Maria Farrakhan Muhammad, his second eldest daughter put together a celebration of his 70th birthday which launched the Louis Farrakhan Prostate Cancer Foundation. The event was truly spectacular for those who were fortunate enough to attend the weekend of activities in Chicago.
The launching of the Louis Farrakhan Prostate Cancer Foundation included free cancer screenings for all the men in attendance. Frankie Beverly of Maze performed an excellent concert in tribute to Minister Farrakhan and the foundation. The highlights of Minister Farrakhans life were portrayed through film at the dinner gala.
The architects of this film were Bill Cherry, John Bellamy and Alif Muhammad. Don Todd who handled the production end of the weekend also did an excellent job. The speakers represented Minister Farrakhans broad base of support from leaders such as the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Tavis Smiley, Cornel West, Beverly Todd and Master of Ceremony Chicago radio talk show host Cliff Kelly.
Their words of support were befitting of a man who has given 48 of his 70 years in the ministry for the liberation of his people. Minister Farrakhan has been blessed to make an impact in just about every corner of the world.
While listening to the words of love and support expressed from his friends and family I reflected back through the years as I journeyed and worked with Minister Farrakhan. There have been many occasions where we have traveled together and have experienced plenty.
After I returned to America from Africa at the end of April 2003, I found myself a few days later back on a plane again. This time I was bound for the island of Jamaica. As my plane landed in Montego Bay, my mind reflected back 32 years ago when I made my first trip to this most beautiful island.
The occasion for that trip was to make arrangements for Minister Louis Farrakhan to take a long needed and well-deserved vacation. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad advised Minister Farrakhan that there were two places where the sun was best for a chest condition he developed.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad suggested Mexico or Jamaica. Minister Farrakhan was not sure that he would be permitted to land and stay in Jamaica because a few years earlier the Jamaican government under then Prime Minister Hugh Sheare rejected the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and his delegation after their plane landed in Jamaica. Under this particular government the Nation of Islam mosque meetings and our newspaper, Muhammad Speaks was banded. However, in spite of this Minister Farrakhan was allowed to enter the country, the land of his fathers birth.
In 1972, when Michael Manley was elected Prime Minister, the doors of Jamaica were opened once again to the Nation of Islam, our newspaper and the leadership. When Minister Farrakhan made his first trip to Jamaica, it was after six years of extremely hard work of rebuilding the Nation of Islam in New York City.
After the assassination of Malcolm X, Muhammads Mosque No. 7 had a credibility problem. At the end of his fifth year in New York Minister Farrakhan had beat back most of the lies and half-truths. In September of 1970, he addressed the Congress of African people and through a strange twist of fate his addressed turned out to be the keynote speech of the conference. This one speech by our champion restored the Nation of Islams credibility in the liberation community. There was no more denying Minister Farrakhan after this. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad praised this speech highly.
The three weeks of rest in Jamaica helped him to sharpen his focus and return to America to face the most trying period of his life thus far 1972-1976. Prime Minister Michael Manley hosted a Muhammad Ali Day, December 1974. Again, Minister Farrakhan carried the day with his address to over 25,000 people in the national stadium.
The word went out that a brother from North America was delivering a message that liberated the minds, hearts and souls of Black people. Farrakhans message not only impacted all of Jamaica, but the whole Caribbean and beyond.
Who would have pictured the son of Caribbean parents who at 22 joined the Nation of Islam (1955), and at 32 was moved from Boston to New York (1965), at 42 watched the Nation fall (1975), at 52 was pushed in the national spotlight, trying to help Reverend Jesse Jackson in his run for President (1985), and at 62 led the historical Million Man March where nearly two million men responded to his call (1995). The life of the Honorable Louis Farrakhan at 70, this noble son of Africa and his impact on America, the Caribbean, Africa and the world, must be told and recorded in the volume of books.
Akbar Muhammad is the International Representative of the Nation of Islam and Minister Louis Farrakhan. His focus has been the continent of Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim World. He has traveled to 37 countries on the African continent and was a resident of Accra, Ghana for eleven years.
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