BY THE HONORABLE MINISTER LOUIS FARRAKHAN | LAST UPDATED: MAR 10, 2015 – 8:47:15 AM
[Editor’s note: As we remember and honor those who sacrificed life and limb on March 7, 1965 in the demonstration for civil rights known as the infamous “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama, The Final Call offers its readers the following message delivered by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in Selma on June 14, 2013 as part of the “Never Forget, Never Again Pilgrimage.” That day, a coalition of political leaders, community activists and members of the community, which included the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and The Nation of Islam, traveled through the cities of Columbiana, Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery where at each stop Minister Farrakhan spoke an inspirational message to encourage those to fight for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, at that time its present-day validity being argued in the U.S. Supreme Court (Shelby County v. Holder, 2013). The following article contains edited excerpts of the message delivered after the group crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, site of “Bloody Sunday.” All four messages are contained within a special CD-package and on DVD titled “Will There Be A Voting Rights Betrayal?” ]
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.
We thank Him for all of His prophets and the scriptures that they brought: We thank Him for Moses and the Israelite prophets who gave us The Old Testament, we thank Him for Jesus and the Apostles who gave us The Gospel and The New Testament, and we thank Him for Muhammad who brought to the world the Holy Qur’an. Peace be upon these worthy servants of God.
I am a student of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and I could never thank God enough for His merciful intervention in our affairs, raising up a Black man from among us and giving him a message that would restore us eventually to our former glory. As the scripture teaches in Deuteronomy 28 and Isaiah 41: “Thou shalt no more be the tail, thou shall be the head,” and “Thou shalt no more be forsaken for I, The Lord, am with you.” And so with God on our side, and The Time on our side, then all we have to do is be in accord with God and The Time, and most surely we will not have to say “we shall”; “we shall one day overcome.”
We are tired of singing about what “we shall” do! It’s time for us to do it now, so that those children who said they are powerful can show their power—if we don’t show cowardice in the face of our enemies and the impediments to our right to vote. As I walked Edmund Pettus Bridge, my mind was on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; my mind was on those who walked with him, and my mind was on the police and the tragic circumstance that led to a voting rights bill.
We have to understand that nothing worthwhile comes without struggle and without sacrifice. And the greatest men and women of history are those who are willing to give it all up, including their lives, to produce change for a future generation. So we are walking, and we are standing on the shoulders of those who went before us.
‘Our communion’: Jesus’ teaching of uniting disciples through his word (bread) and life (blood)
I was thinking about “communion” (when you go to church): I used to be an Episcopalian, and on the first Sunday of every month we would go and drink a little wine and take a wafer, and remember Christ. There is something about “communion” that Jesus gave to his disciples that would always make him present even though he was absent. …
In the Book of Matthew, Chapter 26, Jesus said, “This bread, this is my body: Eat this in remembrance of me”; and then after supper, he took the cup, and he said, “This is my blood that I shed for the remission of sins and for the new testament; drink this as oft as you can in remembrance of me.” He broke the bread and gave a piece to each one of his disciples. Even Judas was at the table, and took his piece. What is the meaning of that? As the scripture teaches “Man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the Mouth of God.” Jesus was telling the people, “Look, feed on my words. In my word you have life.” He didn’t give any of them the whole loaf; he gave all of them a piece, and that was to teach the lesson to the Apostles, “When you come together, I am with you.” You have your piece, and he or she has theirs, but we will never have “the loaf” until we all come together.
Then when he told them, “Look, drink this in remembrance of me”: We don’t drink blood; but Jesus was not talking about actual blood which carries the life and the disease of the organism that has blood, but blood as the essence, the fluid of life itself. So when Jesus told them “eat the bread,” he was also telling them, “Live the life that you saw me live in front of you. And if you eat my word, and follow my life example, I will never leave you. I will be with you till the end of the world.” Jesus said, in Matthew 18:20, “Where there are two or three of you gathered together”—but he didn’t say just “gathered together,” he said “gathered together in my name.”
Brothers and sisters, I want you to see that the real power is not you coming together, but the real power is coming together in the name of him whom God anointed and sent into the world to redeem humanity and reconcile us back to The Creator.
A true ‘disciple’ is a soldier in The Movement of Christ
If you are wondering, “Well, why are you saying that Farrakhan?” I walked across the bridge, locked arm-in-arm with my brothers and sisters. Some were here years ago; some participated and felt the whip and the lash, and the clubs and the dogs—but some of us never experienced that. I didn’t experience that. But today, walking across that bridge, I could feel what my brothers and sisters went through so that we could go to the poll and vote.
The enemy, (who were against my coming here to march with you) was in an uproar, saying: “You know, Farrakhan, you shouldn’t be in a civil rights group because you are a hater, you are a bigot; you are an anti-Semite!”
Alabama: How many White people have I lynched? Not one. But how many have you lynched, or sat on the side and watched being lynched, with glee in your face like you were having a picnic? That’s “hate.” I didn’t segregate the Black people of Alabama! I didn’t set up White drinking fountain/Black drinking fountain! I didn’t set up that in the bus we had to go to the back! I didn’t see any of the ancestors of those who condemn me standing up when we were suffering, saying to White America: “This is evil! This is unjust! And this will bring about recompense from God!” You didn’t talk then; you had nothing to say! But now that I come: What is wrong with my presence, that you are afraid that I am going to say something that will wake up Black people that you have deceived? You are afraid that I might say something to expose the wickedness and injustice of a system that gives you the right to vote, then with skill and artifice and chicanery, take it away from you!
[Reference: Around this time, Birmingham (Alabama) Jewish Federation’s Executive Director Richard Friedman penned an article titled “Farrakhan’s Park Presence Insults Dr. King’s Legacy,” which he posted to his group’s website. In it, Mr. Friedman wrote: “One could easily imagine Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shaking his head today in sadness knowing that one of America’s most notorious Jew haters, Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan, had been enlisted by some black leaders to help lead the charge on an important issue pertaining to the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act. Yet, there was Farrakhan, a man who openly compares Jews to Satan, speaking not too far away from a tree planted in the park commemorating Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who perished in the Holocaust whose diary has inspired millions. …”]
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said they give you a law, and then they refuse to enforce it. So any time you have a law, and there is no enforcement of that law, you don’t have a law. During this “pilgrimage,” there was a sister who sang these words: “We’re not going back, and we’re not gonna’ let anybody turn us around.” But “slogans” won’t get it; “songs” won’t get it. It is what we are willing to do to make sure that our life blood and our sacrifice is not turned back; and that those who sacrificed that we had the right to vote will not be disappointed in us because we sang, we shouted, but we refused to work together to change the realities.
In the Book of Matthew, Chapter 16, verses 20-25, Jesus was telling those with him who could be considered a “disciple.” He said, “If any man …”—I like that. See, you can’t tell Farrakhan that he isn’t a disciple. I might not be in your church, or in your pew, but if you are not suffering for his name’s sake then you better check out whose pew you’re in; if you’re not going to jail, for his name’s sake, then you better check out who’s “got” you, because the road to Christ is not an easy road! If it were an easy road, everybody would be on it. So Jesus said, “If any man”—and that includes Farrakhan—“would be my disciple, the first thing he has to do is deny himself.” Question: How many of you are willing to deny yourself for the sake of a movement bigger than yourself?
Brothers and sisters, if you are not willing to deny yourself then you are not a “disciple.” So what do I mean by “deny yourself”? Study the Book of Mark, Chapter 1, where we read that Peter was a fisherman; and when Jesus met him, he was fishing. But Jesus laid something on him. … He said, “Now Peter, if you come and follow me you can put down your net. I’m going to make you a fisher of men.” This teaches us that Peter had to sacrifice what he was doing for his living in order to become a soldier in The Movement of Christ.
Jesus continued, saying: “But that’s not enough that you’ve got to deny yourself, Peter. You’ve got to pick up your cross.” It’s easy to sing about Jesus on the cross: “Oh, were you there when they crucified my Lord?”—see, Negroes are always somewhere around when somebody is being crucified … But the question is, “What did you do about it? What did you say about it?” There is a song that goes, “Must Jesus bear the cross alone, and all the world go free?” No, brother, sister! There is a cross for you, and there is a cross for me. Dr. Martin Luther King denied himself. Those Civil Rights brothers and sisters that walked across that bridge: They denied themselves! They picked up a cross; and for that, some of them lost their lives that we could go to a poll. Some of them were beaten; houses burned, firebombed. …
See, those are the real haters, Mr. Friedman*, that you should be talking about! Your brothers, who worked us on the planation from “can’t see mornin’ to can’t see night”; that’s why you’re rich and powerful, because you worked us! So don’t talk to me about “hate”—go look in the mirror, because you hate the fact that my people are growing to love me in spite of your wanting them to hate me!
Our time, our day, to do what must be done for a better future
We are not going to let voting rights die; but, I want you to be prepared for something: Every time we received an “amendment,” it had to be followed by a “civil rights action” (because they passed an amendment, but their brethren didn’t like it). So someone doesn’t like the fact that there is “Section V” of The Voting Rights Bill that gives state and local government enforcement powers, and so there are those who want to deprive you of that right by gerrymandering, by redistricting, by doing all the little tricks that the wicked one does to deprive us of a right that is, really, ours.
So as the owner of the country, I just want to say this to the detractors: You’ve got a hell of a nerve telling me where I can come, saying this is “your” Alabama.
We paid the price: Our blood soaks the soil of Alabama! We are drowned in the rivers and the lakes, and hung on the trees! So don’t you tell us you own this! Jesus said, “God will take the kingdom from you and He will give it to another”—and He didn’t just say “another,” He said “another nation that will bring in the fruits thereof!” So this is our time! This is our day! But we cannot allow our former slave masters and their children to dictate how we respond to one another. When you stand up, they’ll sit down. When we stand up, they’ll step aside! Because there is no power in the heavens above or in the earth below that can stop us from achieving what God demands for us if we get our own foot out of our own way. … It is the soldiers that are going to make it happen.
May God bless you. May God keep you. May God, with His love, surround us with His protection as we move forward. But if that Supreme Court knocks down the enforcement clause, what are we going to do? If they stand up, we are not going to lay down—we are going to stand up.
Thank you for reading these words. As-Salaam Alaikum (Peace Be Unto You).