[Editor’s note: The following article is an excerpt taken from a keynote address by Minister Farrakhan delivered July 8, 2004 at the United Methodist Church in Chicago, Illinois during the National Black United Front’s convention celebrating its 25th anniversary.]

We are 50 years from Brown v. Board of Education. While Blacks in the Civil Rights Movement cheer that we’ve come 50 years, there is sadness because, in 50 years, nothing has really changed. We’re 40 years from the Voting Rights Act and civil rights that allowed us to go here and go there, yet we are getting further and further behind socially, economically and otherwise.  

They allowed us the right to vote and we voted into office a few Black men here and a few Black women there. We have nearly 10,000 elected officials, but we’re in a worst condition and position today. There’s something wrong with that picture. In football and in warfare, it is the art of deception that wins the war and wins the game, and we are a greatly deceived people. Like a dog running after its own tail, we never quite catch up.  

We must see the commonality of our ethnicity or our racial identity and become a genuine nation. We have to grow beyond denomination and organizational names which make us tribes, so we refuse to grow: “My tribe, not yours. My church, not yours.” We are a people that must evolve from tribes into a nation—a nation within a nation.

It’s time now for us to assess where we are, because if we don’t make a serious change in our way of thinking and a serious commitment for real liberation, the death of our people will grow exponentially by the chemical and biological warfare that murders us daily. As Black doctors find it difficult to continue to practice medicine because of the high rate of liability insurance, we have less and less doctors. One doctor for every 2,000 Black people, when in Cuba it’s one doctor for every 185 people.

When your doctors quit and your community hospitals close, you become the guinea lambs—experimented on in county hospitals, prisons and jails; experimented on with new weapons, new chemical weapons, new weapons of birth control, new weapons that destroy the fertility of the Black male and female while they develop fertility drugs for their own people.  

We are under assault. What is so sad is that, in this presidential election season, Black people who have been sold and sold out to the Democratic Party feel that in John Kerry they really have an alternative to George W. Bush. You are so pitiful, that you are still, at this late date, looking for the lesser of two evils to bring about good in your life. 

Many will go to the polls because they want to get rid of George W. John Kerry may look better in your eyes—especially when you can’t see. The same day that I made my address, “Guidance to America and the World in a Time of Trouble,” at the National Press Club on May 3, John Kerry was speaking to the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, the ADL. Mr. Kerry was promising Jewish people everything that would make them want to vote for him. A few weeks later, George W. Bush was making a speech before AIPAC, out-promising John Kerry. Now, Israel is going to get the benefi t of whomever you vote for, or don’t vote for, but where are your benefits? 

These candidates tell us, “Vote for me and I’ll make eight million jobs,” and you buy that, as though, if he does make eight million jobs, you’re going to be the recipient. 

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was a very truthful Warner. He had our cartoonist, Eugene Majied, make a cartoon in the Muhammad Speaks newspaper at that time, with the factories closing, a locked gate and Black people stand-ing outside of the gate looking for a job. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, “You must rise up and do something for yourself before you’re forced to do it.” 

And now, the factories are closing and White folks are crying out against the outsourcing of jobs to other countries. The labor market has fought for higher wages, but higher wages have literally made it unprofitable for corporate America to compete with those products that are manufactured in Asia. So, outsourcing means that America brings her jobs to Asia where they may work for $1 a day, and then bring those products back into America. They sell them to the American people who corporate America has abandoned in order to increase their bottom line at the expense of the American people and Black people, who are always the last hired and the first fired.

Where is our future? As we open this con-vention celebrating the 25th anniversary of the National Black United Front, I ask you, “Do you have a future in a country that doesn’t have a future?” 

I know America looks very strong and impenetrable. Not so. The economy of this country is held up with nothing of substance. The dollar bill is not backed by anything sound. It used to be called the Silver Certificate and it used to say, “Pay to the bearer on demand the equivalent in silver.” But it is no longer backed by silver or gold. It’s backed by the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of this country. As the doorway of Asia begins to close on America, her economy is go-ing to decline and many scholars of economics project that one day it will crash. 

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said to us, “One day, you will see the rich lighting their ci-gars with $1,000 bills because the currency will have no more value.” When the currency goes down, the government goes down behind the currency. 

You may think that all of the construction on highways is to build the city’s infrastructure, and it is. But as I travel in cities across America, and as you do too, you may notice the great Highway Construction Program. You may notice, espe-cially around the major cities, they are digging up asphalt roads and putting up concrete and steel.

If you follow the construction, you will see an armory nearby, filled with tanks and anti-personnel carriers. You may think that what we see happening in Gaza and on the West Bank in Palestine and Israel is something just happening over there. My poor, poor, poor foolish brothers and sisters.

When we were coming up, we never carried guns. The best we could get was a switchblade. We would threaten people like we were going to do something, but we didn’t want to cut anybody. We just wanted to hold them off from whipping us, so we would pull out the blade. Today, the switchblade is gone and my young brothers and sisters are carrying weapons. 

You think that weapons are to protect you, give you a sense of power because you can smoke your brother in a drive-by. But the gun can be so inaccurate; you shoot over here and the bullet lands over there. Then, one of your young brothers and sisters sitting on the porch with Mommy and Daddy is dead because of your foolishness. 

You don’t think there’s a price to pay for your madness? The Bible says, “Since you love to shed blood, I will give you your own blood to drink and you will be drunk with your own blood as with sweet wine.” 

In Los Angeles, the police chief has labeled the Black community. Another beating took place after the one that we just saw on television and the Black community is up in arms. Police Chief Bratton said, “The Black community is tribal. They’re nothing but tribes.” He talked about the Black community and he said, “The face of crime in L.A. is a Black face and they are terrorists.” That’s a prescription for slaughter.

When I talked to my minister in L.A., Minister Tony Muhammad, I told him, “Brother, call the family together, but don’t let the enemy in and repeat Chief Bratton’s words. Ask our family is there truth in what he has said?” 

Let’s forget the color or the motive, let’s deal with truth. We used to be tribes that had some intelligence. A tribe called Baptist, a tribe called Methodist, a tribe called Episcopalian, a tribe called Church of God in Christ, a tribe called Jehovah’s Witness. We were tribes then and we wouldn’t go to each other’s churches or services, but we never shed each other’s blood. We have degenerated now.

Name the various so-called gangs in the city, they are people of the same color and ethnicity, but we have become tribes. We don’t necessarily have tribal marks, but some do: a tattoo, a sign and a handshake. We have forgotten that we are a nation within a nation. 

In the sixties, the cry was, “What time is it?” and we would answer, “It’s Nation Time!” When you say “Nation Time,” nation must evolve out of tribe. That is what is killing Africa. Africa was given national sovereignty without ever evolv-ing from tribes into nations. Ghana is tribes, not yet a nation. Nigeria is tribes, not yet a nation. Uganda, Sudan, all of Africa is tribes. 

Allah (God) says in the Qur’an, “I created you from a single essence into tribes and families that you may know one another.” But as Allah (God) evolves us from sperm mixed with ovum, then a clot, then an embryo, then a fetus, then a baby, then a young child, then a teenager and then an adult—we live in a world that is constantly evolving. If you stay a tribe, you can never be-come a nation. Tribe must evolve.

We must see the commonality of our ethnic-ity or our racial identity and become a genuine nation. We have to grow beyond denomination and organizational names which make us tribes, so we refuse to grow: “My tribe, not yours. My church, not yours.” We are a people that must evolve from tribes into a nation—a nation within a nation.