[Editor’s note: The following text is taken from a message by Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered May 18, 2002 at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church in Boston. It is the church where Min. Farrakhan was nurtured as a child and pastored by Father Henderson Brome.]


In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.


One of the lessons that life teaches and one of the lessons that I have learned in my young days on this earth is that Allah (God) hates ingratitude. One cannot be grateful to Allah (God), whom we have not seen, and be ungrateful to those who Allah (God) has sent our way to make us who and what we are.

None of us in this room is privileged to use the independent pronoun “I.” For I, of myself, like Jesus said, can do nothing. I am not anything of, or by, myself. Whatever I am, a community of people helped to make me who and what I am. So the soft pronoun “we” is better because when I stand, I don’t represent myself. I represent a beautiful mother who nurtured me. I represent a father whom I never knew. I represent teachers and persons who took an interest in me and gave me good words of encouragement. I am who I am today because of a great community of persons who are gone on, many of them, but I remain as their representative. To come back home to St. Cyprian’s is a stopping off point to say how grateful I am that St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church nurtured me into the human being that Allah (God) is blessing me to become.

St. Cyprian’s was more than just a church. It was indeed an extended family. I never knew my father, but every male member of the church was like a father to me; every female member of the church was another mother for me. As I grew in this church, I was always encouraged by the membership of the church to be the best that I could be. You did not know what you were putting inside of me. You did not know, nor did I, what Allah (God) would have me to do with my life. But I say to each and every one of you, blessed is the human being who discovers his or her purpose for living. When you live and don’t know why you are alive, when you live and don’t know why Allah (God) put you here, that is not the best way to spend your time or your life.

Elijah Muhammad taught me that what one loves to do and what one does best is more than likely what one is born to do. When you do what you are born to do, it is never work, it is a labor of love, that as you give it, you also receive from it. That’s why people say to me, “Gene,” they call me Gene because everybody knows me from way back, “you look so well, you don’t seem to have aged so much.”

It is true that when you hold things in your bosom that you should give up, when you, through the experience of life, become embittered rather than emboldened, when the heart becomes possessed of bad emotions, these are the things that age the human being. But when we try to live in harmony with Allah (God) and to live in harmony with nature’s laws and you find your purpose in life and live your purpose, then every day that you live, you give, but in your giving, you receive and your soul is always watered by what you do.

In coming here tonight, my soul is already watered to be in the company of so many that nurtured me in my youth. When I was a little boy of three, I joined St. Cyprian’s. In those early days, it was a group of sincere, hardworking persons from the Caribbean who felt a sense of rejection in American society, even among our own Black brothers and sisters. In St. Cyprian’s, you could hear the various accents of all of the islands. And it was those accents that nurtured my life.

I heard the various accents and my mother thought I was sleeping, but I was always listening to the older people when they talked. As Father (Henderson) Brome said earlier of the pain of these early pioneers who were rejected by White Episcopalians and had to find refuge among their own, I would hear these things. And these things watered what Allah (God) had already put within me. And when I was in Sunday school, I would raise questions that were not normal for children my age. But I wanted to know if Allah (God) loved us and He could send Moses to deliver the children of Israel and send Daniel and send David and send others to deliver suffering people, was there somebody that would come along that had us in mind, that felt our pain and our suffering, and would stand up for us?

I did not know that that spirit was growing in me to stand for our people. I didn’t know the pain that it would take to stand up for us, when we don’t have courage to stand up for ourselves. I didn’t know what it would take to go up against the powers that be and watch your own people shrink in fear, worrying over some little position that you think you have, that you have never had, because whatever you have that somebody can frighten you to take away from you, you don’t have it at all.

I determined from my West Indian mother that I was going to be a man and that I was going to stand up for Black people in the midst of oppression. If it costs my life, it did not make any difference to me. And even though in some quarters I am evil spoken of and some may have been affected by what others say about me, all you have to do when you go to church tomorrow is think about Jesus. Think about him walking in Roman society. Think about the things that they said about a good man who opened the eyes of the blind and made the deaf hear and the dumb speak and raised the dead to life. But every miracle that he did, they said he did it by means of the devil. Think about that.

You didn’t walk with Jesus. But if you were living 2,000 years ago, if you didn’t meet Peter, if you didn’t meet James or John or Luke or Matthew, from whom would you hear about Jesus? If you heard about him in the daily news from the Roman authorities, what did they say about him? If you heard about him from the religious leaders of his day, what did they say about him?

I know Jesus from another angle because I try to walk in his shoes. And when you walk in the shoes of the Master, He said, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.” Then He said, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for so did they the prophets that were before you and great is your reward in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11)

I don’t live for the honor of men. I live for the honor of Allah (God). And living for God’s honor and living for His service and to serve the cause of justice has caused me to be loved in many quarters all over the world, but hated by those who are the oppressors of our people. I would rather be hated by the oppressor and loved by Allah (God) than to be loved by the oppressor and hated by Allah (God) for selling out the people and the principles of justice and freedom and truth for a few crumbs from the master’s table.


Fulfilling Prophecy

I didn’t leave the church because I disliked the principles of this great teaching. I left the church because the church was not relevant to the struggle of Black people for justice. I want to see a relevant church, a church that lifts people from where they are and stands up for the people, like Jesus stood for the weak and the poor and the oppressed of the society. The church must not walk by the drug addict. The drug addict needs a home in St. Cyprian’s. The prostitute needs a home in St. Cyprian’s. It’s not just those who seem to have the strength, but it’s the weak ones that need the church and the family of the church. Please don’t walk by them, because some of them are the best that you would know if you could just wash the mud off of them.

Did you know that we are fulfilling prophecy by our sojourn in the Western Hemisphere? Did you know that it was by Divine mandate that we were taken out of Africa on a westerly course and dropped, as my Masonic brothers would say, in the North Country, buried in a shallow grave, with a little sprig of cassia to mark the grave. You are not really dead as such—you’ve just been hit in the head and don’t remember who you are and your greatness in the world. If you don’t know what was, how do you know what is, and how can you prepare for what is to come?

When our fathers were brought into the Western Hemisphere, it was by design that we would no longer be connected to our original culture, language, God or religion. We grow up now with the names of foreigners. These names that we glorify today are not ours. They are the names of our former slave masters. And just like you brand a horse or brand a cow, you name your slave after you. These are the invisible chains that bind us to our former slave masters and their children.

Right from the Caribbean they broke us and they brought those that were broken here to America. These were the most broken, the Blacks in America. But when you came from the Caribbean, you brought something to Black America that we never had. You saw Blacks in the Caribbean in positions of authority that we never saw in the United States of America. When you got here, you always aspired to higher things. And you would achieve what you aspired to and you would inspire Black Americans to want to do better. You did a great job. Marcus Garvey did a great service to us in this country. So many from the Caribbean have awakened us. But now, in the time that we are to come into rulership, those that know this are determined that that should not happen.

Twenty years ago, there was a study on Black population that said if our birthrate continued as it was 20 years ago, by the year 2056 we would be equal to or the majority population in America. When those figures came out, somebody went to work. And now in every city in America, the funeral parlors are filled. And guess who they are filled with? Grandma—not you. Grandpa—not you. It’s filled with your children, your grandchildren, babies from 18-40 years old. And the number one killer is AIDS; the number two killer is gunshot wounds. Those of us who came through the ravages of slavery never committed suicide, but suicide is the third biggest killer among young Black people today.

We can’t see these statistics and be blind. Crack cocaine, that’s chemical warfare. AIDS, that’s biological warfare. These are weapons of mass destruction that are being used on us. That’s why religion has to be preached with great fervor and not rituals, because rituals contain the truth, but the ritual, in and of itself, is not the truth. If we just become ritualistic, then religion loses its meaning and you just go to church because it’s a place to go, something to do, but it has no more effect on your life.

Religion should be a transforming experience.