[Editor’s note: The following text is excerpted from the historic message delivered by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan at the Oct. 16, 2000 Million Family March.]

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

I, today I have written no notes. I thought that I should like to come today and stand before you and let Almighty God have His way with me and guide the words of my mouth and my heart, that I might speak to your minds and your heart, that we may have come in as many, but I pray that God will allow us to go out as one…

As I look at humanity, it is as though no prophet of God has ever appeared among us because, as human beings, we are filled with hatred for one another. We are destroying each other, and at this very moment in Egypt, the Palestinians and the Israelis are sitting down with President Clinton and King Abdullah of Jordan and President Mubarak of Egypt to try and work out a peace in that troubled area. We have witnessed, in the last 16 days, unparalleled brutality. We have witnessed, in the last 16 days, the destruction of religious houses, holy places belonging to the Jews as well as the Muslims.

Whenever we are so embittered that we would destroy places that are set up for the remembrance of God, this is a sign of madness. And the madness that we see in the Middle East has a basis. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us that the stars in the heaven justify our belief in God, and therefore the star has always been used to represent justice. So the Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us that where there is no justice, human beings begin to act savagely or have a sense of insanity because of the deprivation of this vital principle of life, the principle of justice.

There can be no peace in that troubled area that is a lasting peace unless that peace is structured on the principle of justice — justice for the Palestinians, justice for those who suffer in the world, justice for the poor and the weak, justice for the sick and the imprisoned, justice for those who have been locked out of society. Unless justice comes, there can be no peace. Even in this great nation, we will be at each other’s throats as long as the principle of justice and equity are denied.

So today, as I look at the children of Abraham — Muslims, Christians, and Jews — Abraham would be totally upset that we would recognize him as a father and God as a father, and then turn around and slaughter each other, as is going on even as we speak. God would be displeased.

In the Holy Qur’an, it teaches us, Abraham was not a Jew or a Christian; he was an upright man. So we cannot claim Abraham by blood lineage alone. We can only claim Abraham as a father if we live uprightly, as Abraham did, and worship nothing or no one but the one true God.

Not yet human
If you look at the human family — now, I’m talking about black, brown, red, yellow and white — we all seem to be frozen on a subhuman level of existence. I want you — I’m going to say it again, because I want you to think with me. I said, humanity seems to be frozen on a subhuman level. In Islam and, I believe, in Christian theology and Jewish theology as well, there are three stages of human development. The first stage is called the animalistic stage of development, and all of us have animal passions. But when we submit to animal passions, then we can do evil things to one another in that animalistic stage of development. But when moral consciousness comes and we have a self-accusing spirit, it is then that we become human beings. Right now, we have the potential for humanity, but we have not reached that potential, because we are functioning on the animalistic plane of existence. Allah says in the Qur’an, We created you into tribes and families that you may know one another and, parenthetically, not despise one another.

My question to you today is, what do we know of each other but the worst of each other? We have not yet seen man and woman as man and woman were created to be. We are a caricature of what God intended. If in Genesis He created the man and the woman in his own image and after his own likeness, he created us, then, to be reflections of himself, and David, the psalmist, said, “Ye are all God’s children of the most high God.” But look at our behavior. Satan has turned us completely around where we can say, “Ye are all dogs children of the most low Satan.”

My question to us as human beings is, whose children are we, and how will we know that we are children of God, except that our actions and our speech is a godly action and a godly speech, otherwise we have to say we have been devoured by Satan. (Cheers, applause.)

The poison of ‘I am better’
I respectfully say to you, my beloved brothers and sisters and members of the potential human family, that a poison exists and it starts with the thought that I am better than you because I’m black; or, I am better than you because I am white; or, I am better than you because I’m rich; or I am better than you because I am more highly educated; I am better than you because I have something that you don’t have. These are false yardsticks used by human beings to justify their ill treatment of one another.

In the Holy Qur’an, Iblis, which is another name or characteristic of Shatan, was told to bow down to a man that was made of dust. And Iblis refused to bow down. And God asked him, “Why didn’t you bow down when I commanded you?” And Iblis said, “Because I am better than he. I am made of fire, while he is made of dust.” Whenever you start thinking you are better because of some characteristic that you have that sets you apart from somebody else, this is the beginning of a satanic mind. I want you to hear me, because there is a yardstick that we can say one is better than the other; but it’s not your race, it’s not your color, it’s not your creed.

The thing that makes one human being better than another is our duty to God and our righteous conduct. …

Look at these beautiful flowers. (To staff.) Hand it to me, please. Now look at this. What is more beautiful than a bouquet of flowers, different colors, but growing out of a common earth, needing a common water, growing into a common atmosphere? Who would be stupid enough to say the rose is better than the orchid? You just won’t talk like that. Nature won’t let you say the rose is better than the orchid. The rose might be your preference, but who said it’s better? I think it’s ignorant. Don’t you?

Now look at the earth out of which we grow. There’s black earth. There’s brown earth. There’s red earth. Yes, there’s sand that is white, sand that is pink. And we who live on the Earth rejoice because we grow our food in the black earth, we make our bricks from the red clay, we put our foot in the sand when we go to the beach, and we’re not thinking of sand supremacy — (laughter) — or black earth supremacy; we’re just enjoying what God has given us, and we give Him the praise. …

God is the author of color. Why are you going crazy because you see color in the flowers, color in the rocks, color in the Earth, color everywhere you look, and color in the human family, and now we can accept the differences in rocks, in stones, in earth, but we cannot accept the differences of color and characteristics in one another. That says that the human being is sick.

Symbols limit human potential
Every organization that’s here is represented by some symbol. As an Omega, you have your symbol. As a Delta, as a Kappa, as an AKA, you have your symbol. As an Elk, as a Moose, as a Lion, you have your symbol. As a Crip and a Blood you have your color. None of these things define you. All of these things limit you because your symbol and mine create divisions among us. I am a Christian, you say, but you are a Muslim. You wear your cross, I wear my crescent, so I’ll be over here and you’ll be over there. Wrong, wrong, wrong! (Applause.) That is wrong.

I am a Christian. Did you hear me? Farrakhan said, I am a Christian. I am a Jew. I am a Muslim. I am Pentecostal. I am of the Church of God in Christ. I am a Jehovah’s Witness. I am a Mason. I am a Shriner. I’m all of that and then some, because I refuse to let things limit me as to who I really am, and you should not allow that, either.

When I say I am a Christian, I delight in the cross. It means a lot to me. The cross is not a symbol of wood with a horizontal and a vertical bar; the cross is a symbol of the dual nature of the human being. He has a horizontal nature, which is animalistic. He has an upright nature, which is vertical. The cross represents our struggle to overcome the horizontal and grow into the vertical. …

The Star of David is two equilateral triangles, one pointing up, one pointing down. Six sides, six angles. The Bible says, Count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. But the man is God’s man, and the beast is also under the same number, because the beast is a man that has fallen down, and the God-man is a man that is looking up and gets instructions from above. And the fallen man is he who gets his guidance from the lower extremities. We follow our sexual appetite. We follow our lust for material things, for power.

The crescent represents equality. The star represents justice. The sun represents freedom. That flag is up above our heads, and the God who created that — He doesn’t let the sun shine on white people and miss black people. Does He? He doesn’t let the rain fall on the Native American and not fall on other members of the human family. God is just, and he’s no respecter of persons. It doesn’t matter what your color is, what your race is, with God it is righteousness that He is after.

And so, my family, these symbols must give way to that which God will bring and make new among us. I say to all of these symbols, they make us symbols, and we don’t have the substance of a human being created in the image of God. …

As I come to a conclusion, I want to address three problems.

Family life: Any policy, rule, regulation or program that does not promote the growth of the male and female, the sanctity of marriage and family, is a rule, a regulation or policy that is not a good rule, regulation or policy. The family is the basic unit of civilization; therefore, everything must be done to care for the family unit.

Two. None of us can become human beings and divine beings without knowledge. Therefore, the access to knowledge should be what government is spending money on, not more weapons. There is no nation on this Earth that can defeat America militarily. There is no sense of saying to the American people, “We need Star Wars because somebody is going to shoot a rocket at us.” They’re not insane; they know if they shot one rocket, you (U.S.) could shoot a hundred. So war and the threat of war is a pretext to take the taxpayer’s dollar and make more and more weapons, while the American people have insufficient education, insufficient teachers, insufficient qualifications to come into a modern society. This thing needs to be reversed.

Education is not a privilege. Education is a human right. In your education, you must exalt the woman. (Applause.) Any system of education that does not give us a healthy respect for the female is a failed educational system. Any system on this Earth that says that a woman is only for pleasure and procreation is a backward system, and any system that says the female are our natural partners in every act of the building of home, school, systems, and institutions of government, then we are properly educated. The woman is the cornerstone of the family.

I respectfully say, to everyone that’s here, all of our religious institutions need reform. (Applause.) I’m going to say it again. All of our religious institutions need reform. It is not God that has relegated females to this inferior position; it is our misunderstanding of the word of God. …

When Jesus was on the cross, most all of the male disciples had run away. Only one was there. That was John. But there were three women at that cross, and one of them was His mother. … When He was resurrected, according to Christian theology, the men were somewhere in the upper room, talking, but it was women that discovered that He had been raised. I ask you a question. Do you think any pulpit made by man is better or more important than a female created by God?

And if you love Jesus because, you say he died for you, then look at the female that has given birth to your son or your daughter. Do you know that when she lays down to give life to us, she experiences the same pain of death as the pain of giving birth? Look at the hours sometimes that she is in labor — one hour, two hours, four hours, 10 hours, 14 hours, 18 hours — and then she gives us life. Well, if you can love Jesus because he died for you and me, then you better grab your wife and the woman that gave birth to your children and hold her tight because she died for you and me, and she suffered in labor for you and me, that the human family could continue to grow and flourish.

Gain knowledge and fly
We (the people) can make a difference. So I want to ask you, in the words of (singer) R. Kelly, I really believe we’re going to have to fly. And when I say fly, the Bible say one day we’re going to take on wings. Wings doesn’t mean that you’re going to grow wings out of your back. Wings means that the wisdom and the knowledge of God and the understanding of the Word will give you power to rise out of the gravitational pull of the Earth, out into space.

If you have the wings of knowledge—when you have a book and you open the book, it looks like wings. The Bible is a book of heavy knowledge. Open it, and take on wings. The Holy Qur’an is a book; a healing for the nation. Open the book and take on your wings and fly away.

It’s only when you put on wings that you can rise above blackness, rise above whiteness, rise above color, rise above national origin, rise above ethnicity, rise above sexuality, rise above materials—when you take on the wings of knowledge, then you can rise above all the things that have kept us divided as a people.

God bless you all. As-Salaam Alaikum.

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