[Editor’s note: The following article is an edited transcript of the keynote address made by Min. Louis Farrakhan on November 23, 2008 at the State of the Black World Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.]


The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan
‘If Barack opens up two and a half million jobs, his goal by 2011, over 10 million Americans are al-ready unemployed, according to the latest statistics. Where will you be if he opens up two and a half mil-lion jobs, with us dropping out of school, not pre-pared? Can we take advantage of any opportunity that he opens? No.’

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, we give him praise and thanks for his goodness and his mercy to the human family.


I can’t begin without thanking Brother Mtangulizi Sanyika for such a wonderful, glowing introduction the like of which I don’t think I have ever experienced. I thank you so much. I would like to thank Dr. Ron Daniels and all of those that worked with Brother Ron to bring together this August body of brilliant men and women and young people who made the State of the World Black Conference a huge success. Thank you, Brother Ron. To all of those who are seated on this rostrum, and many who had to leave who gave their contribution to the State of the Black World Conference, I feel exceedingly humbled and honored to be among these giants. Before I go any further, I would like to thank His Honor, Mayor Ray Nagin, for honoring us with his presence today. I would like to thank Police Chief Warren Riley and Lieutenant Melvin Howard of the escort division and Mrs. Brenda Johnson of the New Orleans Airport Authority for all of their efforts to make my arrival and my stay in the Crescent City safe, and enjoyable. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

We have witnessed history being made and a history-making event that has placed on all of our shoulders a heavier responsibility. Barack Obama, the President-elect, could never have done what he was blessed to do without, in my humble judgment, direct intervention of Almighty God, Himself. For this young man to have circumvented all of the traps that were laid for him, for this young man to have out-maneuvered skillful enemies who have destroyed many before him, I cannot say that he is where he is just be-cause 65 million people in this nation voted for him without saying that even their vote was accompanied by the power, the spirit and, not the permissive will, but the active will of God.

I never believed that I would live to see a Black person as President of the United States, and even though I went out early that morning to cast my vote, I doubted this young man would become the 44th President of a country where we were brought never to be made citizens—but to be made the burden bearers of the citizens. I could not imagine a day would come when I would have to address a Black man as “Mr. President.” This should tell us that God has not forsaken us; and this should also tell us that God is giving America a chance to redeem herself, and this is why I see Barack Obama as a mercy from God to the United States of America and a troubled world.


The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, in his book titled “The Fall of America,” predicted all of the things that are happening now and brought the prophets of the Old and New Testaments and world history to bear on what he said that would happen inside America. No prophet or Messenger of God ever delivers a warning to an errant government and people with the hope that they’re going to get the chastisement he threatens them with. Moses warned Pharaoh, but Pharaoh was too proud of his own power to pay attention to the warning of Moses. But Moses had a rod and God gave him power to do with it what he never thought he could do. Moses brought down from the Biblical point of view ten plagues, from the Qur’anic point of view nine plagues. The last plague on Pharaoh was the plague of death because God was after a people that had been unjustly oppressed and enslaved for 400 long years.

Many Biblical scholars have thought Jesus of 2,000 years ago fulfilled the prophecy of a man like Moses, but Jesus was not born a slave. Jesus was born in Palestine. Prophet Muhammad, Peace be Upon Him, was a law-giver like Moses; but he, too, was not born a slave in a strange land.

In mathematics or geometry, we have theorems as I recall. If side angle side of Triangle A is equal to side angle side to Triangle B, then the triangles are said to be congruent. The Children of Israel were in bondage in a strange land for 400 years under wicked oppression so much so that it disturbed God, and he said, he had heard the moaning and the groaning of the Children of Israel due to their hard taskmasters. God visited Egypt and he met Moses, who told Pharaoh, let my people go not “integrate my people.”

If side angle side of condition A is parallel by side angle side of condition B, then solution to problems are already laid out.

The problem with us has always been like it was with the Children of Israel, we never have wanted to leave the enemy and do something for ourselves. He has already let us go, but he’s not giving us a good send off.

Let’s deal with reality today.

In spite of the euphoria, we as a people are in worse condition than we have ever been despite having a greater middle class, more millionaires and a few billionaires.


One of the plagues that God used against Pharaoh was due to a prayer by Moses because the children of Israel were enamored by the wealth of Pharaoh. They saw all of this wealth Pharaoh had and they wanted a piece of it. Like Lazarus who sat at the rich man’s gate begging for the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table, when the earth was there to grow wheat for him that he could have as many loaves of bread as he wanted. He chose to stay at the gate begging for crumbs. Moses prayed that God would touch the wealth of Pharaoh and destroy it.

I read a few days ago that America is about to lose her AAA credit rating. I read that America is over $10 trillion in debt. I read that she sometimes keeps two sets of books and there’s another figure that is mindboggling. When you put Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other things in the budget, she’s nearly $60 trillion in debt and has mortgaged the future of our children and their children way into the future. In fact, it’s a debt that can’t be paid and the only thing that’s holding the dollar up used to be the Gross National Product of the nation but that’s no longer viable.

I see General Motors and Ford and Chrysler went to Congress to beg.

The Bible has it right. As a man soweth, the same shall he also reap. The enemy has worked to destroy our meager efforts for economic independence. When Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Whites didn’t want the slaves off the land. They concocted all kinds of schemes and made laws to force the slave back to the land in what is called “sharecropping.”

Cotton was to the world economy what oil is to-day. It generated so much money that fortunes like those of the Rothschild’s and the Lehman Brothers were built upon our labor. It was clear to the former slave masters and their children that true emancipation would simply bankrupt America. If Blacks had gained control over their own labor and obtained the vote, our former slave masters would have lost all of their power. So after slavery, we were forced into sharecropping where small, country merchants took the place of plantation owners and used debt rather than the whip to keep the Black man picking the cot-ton necessary for the world economy. The ugly secret of America is that this is precisely where many of the multi-rich bankers obtained their extraordinary wealth and power. The great American retail institutions of the region like Sachowicz in Houston, Godchaux in New Orleans, the Cohen Brothers in Jacksonville, Riches in Atlanta, Garfinkels in Washington, Falheimers and A. Rosenstock & Company and Stern Brothers in Virgina, Goldsmith in Memphis and Sangers of Texas, they all grew from cotton wealth on the backs of our slave labor and sharecrop-ping misery.

Even those department stores associated with the great northern metropolises such as Neiman Marcus and Macy’s, and even the largest jewelry chain Zales originated as tiny retailers in the post slavery, Jim Crow South. The world’s industrial revolution was financed with cotton money. I don’t have time to waste on hate but factual knowledge is what we all need to press the case for justice. You must never be afraid to find the facts because Jesus said, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

With the failure of Lehman Brothers and it might be interesting to note that New Orleans merchants reaped extraordinary wealth from the cotton trade and the money trail leads to New York banks, indeed, all the way to banking dynasties of France, Germany, England. All of this would have collapsed if the Black people were actually set free.


Barack Obama has to dig America out of the abyss of economic collapse.

He hasn’t called you, sorry about that. You have not been used to managing billions and tens of billions and hundreds of billions of dollars, so he can’t use you, not in that position. He has to get those who have the knowledge. But to see General Motors and Ford and Chrysler coming to Washington with a tin cup, I’m not laughing, they flew in on their corporate jets and broke out the tin cup. They’re asking for money that the taxpayers have not paid in taxes. They call it the “taxpayers’ money” because the tax-payer is ultimately going to be saddled with the debt. All they have to do is tell the Federal Reserve, print more money, or let’s go borrow from those who have bought our bonds and our Treasury notes. Let’s go borrow from China. Let’s go borrow from Japan.


The truth is all American institutions were redesigned to achieve the goal of keeping the Black man on land producing wealth for others. The labor movement, the educational system, the legal system, even the philosophy behind lynchings were all focused on keeping Blacks in post-slavery slavery, a condition that has lasted up to this very moment. When Black leaders of the late 1800s started agitating for economic self-empowerment alarmed Whites formed the NAACP and the Urban League, and gave them a strategy called “non-economic liberalism.” You could agitate for justice but you could not develop wealth. Mr. Joel Springarn and others developed strategy so you could have organizations, but not economic strength. You are the only people who seek political strength on the basis of nothing. It’s like a shell game. You put something under a shell and then you’ve got to figure out where it is. “You Negroes you get education and that’s the passport.” We got it but it didn’t bring liberation. “All right, Negroes. Get the vote.” When you got the vote and the minute they saw your numbers, they began to find ways to trick your elected officials because you wanted to put your own brother in power.

The FBI had all these plots and plans against effective Black leadership, political leadership. Nelson Mandela became president and the Whites moved out of Johannesburg. The NAACP and the Urban League, with their great modern leadership, are trying to develop economic strength. Now, you see the money drying up. What is that about?

To see us always in a begging stance, to see us always in a dependent stance feeds the notion of White supremacy. It’s very difficult to feed that notion when Black excellence is on the scene. That’s what you represent, Black excellence. But those of us who represent Black excellence are too few to stem the mounting tide of what is moving against the rise of our people.

I was so happy to be here at the Legacy Awards with all of these wonderful, wonderful awardees, especially the Rev. Jeremiah E. Wright. Rev. Wright loves the country of his birth but he hates evil and injustice. When he used the term “not God bless” but “God damn America,” the media went crazy. “How could Barack Obama have been in that church for 20 years and not know that man is evil. That man is a hater,” said the media and many Whites. See they are just like Pharaoh, they cannot accept God’s condemnation. Rev. Wright represents the prophetic voice of the Black church. I say to all preachers in the Black church, if you lose the desire to speak truth that shows government and power its deviation from the course of justice and fair dealing, if you lose that power and compromise your ministry for a faith-based initiative, then to curry favor with man is to lose favor with God.

Then they called Barack a Muslim, Barack Hussein Obama. Then they had these caricatures, cartoonish figures in the New Yorker magazine with Osama bin Laden on the mantel piece.

After they threw that out there, Barack in the midnight hour went in his room and wrote a speech on race. You have never seen in your life a politician like that man because he’s more than a politician. America does not need a politician. America needs a moral compass and a professor because the greatest enemy of America and the American people is their woeful lack of knowledge and the smart politician manipulates the ignorance of the American people. We need someone to teach and guide with a good moral compass.

Elijah Muhammad gave us a principle: “No one man can rise above the condition of his people.” Here’s Barack, he’s up high but where are we? Now CNN all of a sudden gets interested in doing a special on the Black condition in America, and starts with a woman pregnant and the baby daddy running. Then it went to education, crime, the problems of the Black youth, unemployment and ended with the Black woman again as the number one purveyor of the AIDS virus. What was the message? “If you vote for that man, look at what he’s going to be bringing to the White house. Ain’t no chestnuts roasting on an open fire. It’s hog maw and chitterlings roasting on an open fire and cocaine sniffing up your nose. Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow want to know where the marijuana grows. Everybody knows …”

A little levity is always good, laugh while the castor oil is going down because we expect to flush out stupidity, ignorance, pettiness, and jealousy, and envy.

When Republican(s) Alaska Gov. Palin and Sen. John McCain started speaking, people cried out “Kill him! Kill him!” There are more death threats on that young man than has ever been on anyone who has run for public office.

Barack Obama is the president-elect but getting him to the 20th of January will be a big task. Amer-ica’s not all happy. Fifty-seven million voted differently and some in that 57 million are rabid haters of our people.

What is our role now? What should we be doing? Give the man a chance to get where he’s going before we jump on him. I read an article while I was on the plane coming here. The article was talking about Mrs. Michelle Obama, saying “and she got back,” and had a picture of her form. Have you ever read anybody talking about the back of Laura Bush or the lack thereof? This is insulting. It is demeaning and it should evoke the type of protest that they would know we do not appreciate our women and the beau-ty of their form being put on a cheap level.


Barack Obama has lifted all of us. We can never be the same again. The little gangbangers, the hip hoppers, they stayed in line four and five hours to vote for their brother. Every one of us that night with tears streaming down our eyes had joy in our hearts that the impossible had happened.

But after the victory comes heavy responsibility.

I wrote a book 15 years ago called, “A Torch-light for America.” Everything that’s going on now and solutions and whatnot, is in here. It may need tweaking because it’s 15 years old but the principles are all here. After the Million Man March, we were criticized and rightly so. Maulana Karenga, who is one of our premiere thinkers, Haki Madhubuti, Conrad Worrill and others, we sat together and came out with a document to guide the men of the Million Man March. Brother Ron you were a part of that I believe. Jesse Jackson was the only speaker at the march who spoke on the evil of the penalty of crack cocaine versus powdered cocaine. The very next day, Congress passed a law giving those with crack cocaine possession heavier sentences than those with powdered cocaine. We lost because we were not together.

One man’s vision was too much for others.

We had to pull people together, dragging them, when if they had come to the table when we first invited them to plan for the march, we would have had the blessing of their minds. What keeps us from getting in a room and stop playing ego games, as our people are dying in the streets?

Barack Obama, I read something maybe a week or so ago, that an interview was done with him right after the Million Man March, he was there and listen to Barack’s critique. Barack said, “The only thing that was wrong with the Million Man March is that they did not present an agenda around which we could organize those two million men.” He was right. What does that tell you? Visions are only valuable when you have the right people to fill the vision and make it flesh. We cannot continue to move like we are moving, you over there, me over here, he’s over there, she’s over there; we need each other more today than ever before.

I say I’m a Muslim. Eighty-five percent of the men that came to the march were Christians. Some of the Christians said, “How could this Muslim call and Christians respond?” What is wrong with you? How could I call and two million men answer if God wasn’t behind the call? We are blinded by our egos. We are blinded by our self-hatred. We are blinded by envy and jealousy, tearing down each other because we don’t see the value and the struggle of anybody who comes in front of us to lead us.

Barack is our blessing. Barack is America’s blessing. Barack could be the world’s blessing. He’s the most popular Black man to ever arise among us, take it or leave it. I’ve never seen anything like this, have you? This is a phenomenon. It’s God’s hand there. Then if his hand is there, where’s your hand? Where’s my hand? Where’s our hand?

If Barack opens up two and a half million jobs, his goal by 2011, over 10 million Americans are al-ready unemployed, according to the latest statistics. Where will you be if he opens up two and a half mil-lion jobs, with us dropping out of school, not pre-pared? Can we take advantage of any opportunity that he opens? No. If he produces five million jobs in making a green economy, how many of us will be qualified to take advantage of what that young man can produce.

Don’t knock this man, I’m telling you. He’s not you. He’s not me. He’s not us. God made him special for a special reason and a special mission.

He was maneuvering through a minefield. Evidently, he maneuvered correctly.

He’s gathered around him people we may not like them. What do we know? Good judgment is needed everywhere. Leave him alone. Watch him. Don’t be an impediment. Watch him.

I wrote something in this book called, “A Torch-light for America,” fifteen years ago, “It’s about the mentality of Black leadership. Black organizations and leadership must focus on self-help. We should create a forum in which we can convene regularly to discuss the troubles of our people and develop solutions that we can execute on our own. Each Black organization and every Black leader has a role in the upliftment of our people, and we must recognize and respect each other’s role and learn to work with those with whom we may be at variance ideologically. We should consider establishing a united front for the purpose of converging our efforts to meet common objectives over one, three, five and ten years.”

We need reparations but do you think we can go like General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, and lay our case out? We’re not organized enough. We’re not together enough to make government hear. While Barack is carrying the cross of America, which is heavy, we’ve got our own cross to bear.

Every one of us has a responsibility in this hour and the responsibility is greater on leadership. We, who are clothed and fed by the people that make our lives easier, should not let easy life put us to sleep. The people are feeding us so we can think when they are not able to think because of the problems of debt. We have a responsibility and we must not shirk that responsibility in this hour.

Don’t you ever think that the Civil Rights Move-ment is irrelevant right now, Black Nationalism is ir-relevant. We only become irrelevant when there’s no need for what we give anymore and as long as there’s injustice in America, there’ll always be a need for a Reverend Al Sharpton and a Reverend Jesse Jackson and the NAACP and the Urban League, but we must never forget the crushing needs of our people.

Muslims, you’re going to work. We’ve got to get our people and we’ve got to work with others. Don’t think you know it all. There are people sitting up on this stage that we can’t even tie their shoes when it comes to economic development. James Turner, of Cornell, Haki Madhubuti, Baba Hanni-bal Afrique, helped me when I had no help. Black police officers came to me in every city. They pro-tected my life until the word could produce soldiers. I come into this city here’s my brother, Ray Nagin, with a hard job. He needs our support but we’ve got to be like Barack, not afraid to bring people around us that disagree.

We are so silly if somebody disagrees with us all of a sudden they’re our enemy when they could be our best friend. We need each other. I pray that we will change the state of the Black world. It can start from New Orleans if we make a commitment not to have more conferences but to have some real sit-down sessions. The time is now. Let each one of us agree to accept our responsibility to be better than what we are.

Thank you for listening and may God bless you as I greet you in peace, As-Salaam Alaikum.