THE MO'KELLY REPORT: My Introduction to Minister Louis Farrakhan By Morris O’Kelly E-mail to a friend | Printer friendly (October 11, 2005) There are some people, simply put, you might never meet in life. There are just some individuals, that unless life throws you a fastball over the center of the plate, you probably won’t get a moment to sit with him/her and dialogue. You’d like to, but some individuals are beyond reach for ordinary people like you and me. This past week I had the opportunity to attend a private reception for Minister Louis Farrakhan in Los Angeles. As you could imagine, he was one of those individuals who if you asked me last week, I would’ve answered that our paths would likely never cross. He’s not the most ‘accessible’ person and as a Christian he wasn’t necessarily a person I would specifically seek out. The dichotomy that is the perception of Minister Louis Farrakhan is more than just ‘intriguing.’ Depending on whom you ask, he is either alleged to be an Anti-Semite, an African-American savior, both or something, somewhere in between. The mere mention of his name often evokes passionate discourse regardless of where in that spectrum your perception may lie. Today I’m asking that you suspend any preconceived notions of the minister and listen with an open heart and assess what I’m about to say with an open mind. In this small gathering of 25-30 individuals, there were high-profiled African-American celebrities and executives of both television and cinematic fame. There were prominent sports and civil-rights icons. And no, it wasn’t solely African-Americans at this gathering. Out of respect for those who attended this special meeting, I will not name names…for some reasons both obvious and others not as quite. If they want to speak on their attendance, I’m sure they will in their own time and space. This is not about class roll call, but more about the lesson taught. This coming weekend marks the 10 year anniversary of The Million Man March and also the date of the approaching Millions More Movement. Most of us remember the show of solidarity on the mall in Washington back in 1995. It was impressive, regardless of your religious affiliation. It was admirable, irrespective of your political ideology. Lastly, it was massive, in spite of news reports detailing otherwise. Not since the civil rights movement of the 1960s had African-Americans gathered en masse specifically for the purpose of improving their place in America. The difference was that the focus in 1995 was placed squarely on our own communities. It was our house that wasn’t in order and it needed to be addressed first and foremost. Ten years later, not much has changed, disappointingly I might add. If anything, we’ve moved further down that dubious path of self-destruction. Minister Louis Farrakhan has asked for not only African-American men, but women, children of all races and religious affiliations to also join in this movement. Let me back up… I found Minister Farrakhan to be a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. In fact, one should separate the compound word in order for each part to be attributed its full meaning. I found him to be a gentle, man. Not that I expected any differently and not to cast aspersion on other African-American leaders whom I have met on occasion. I found there to be a level of sincerity and unbridled love for African-Americans in this gentle man both genuine and undeniable. From his handshake to his words of wisdom handed out; I would submit that my spiritual discernment was speaking truthfully and clearly to me in relation to Minister Farrakhan. Minister Farrakhan spoke for more than an hour to people in a room not larger than anyone’s apartment. He voiced his thoughts in hushed, measured tones; barely audible to anyone more than 30 feet away. There were no media outlets on hand and outside of The Mo’Kelly Report, you’re likely never to hear about it. It was a moment in history. Maybe in time, with wisdom and perspective I’ll better appreciate its magnitude. I won’t even try to repeat his specific words for they are his alone to share publicly when the appropriate time presents itself and far be it from me to try to match their intended inflection and intrinsic value. I will though try to convey their spirit and importance. The following is what I personally took away from that evening. We have failed… We have failed to adequately care for our children. We have failed to uplift the African-American woman and mother to said children. We have failed to teach our sons how to become men in the truest sense of the word, meaning caring and providing for both the woman and child. We have failed to protect the sanctity of marriage and all it entails. The word ‘we’ is key. It was not about parsing blame to those outside our community but more about our lack of organization as a people and community. The minister’s thoughts were expressed in a manner part history lesson and part motivational speech. He detailed how the original gains of the civil rights movement were a product of an organized community of African-Americans that forced change, not through any willingness of political leaders to appease us. In short, we ‘made’ the world change because through organization, we could not be ignored or denied. It’s a terrible fact; we’re disorganized on a community and even a familial level. To some, it’s stating the obvious but it’s never a message heard too often these days. We’ve lost our way. And the sooner we find it and clean our own house, the nasty weeds outside on our front lawn will likely die on their own. But, as they say…first things first. What I found most ‘disturbing’ in this gathering was the alleged response to the Millions More Movement by other African-American religious leaders. Religious leaders with names we all know. Religious leaders with TV evangelical ministries we’ve seen and even supported in a blithe manner. One of these responses even came from a well-known bishop of my own church affiliation Again, names aside…the questions about Minister Farrakhan and his intentions were predictable. But given from ‘whom’ they originated, I was more than disappointed. I was embittered. Prominent Christian ministers have openly questioned whether Minister Farrakhan was the ‘right’ man to lead this movement. They have privately questioned whether this is simply a fund-raising opportunity for the Nation of Islam under the guise of atonement and accountability in our communities. Are you kidding me? Talk about ‘hypocrisy’ of biblical proportions! We have an African-American man who is not bound by or in bed with either the Republican or Democratic political ideology and is going forth in the name of uplifting African-Americans. Yet and still, ‘we’ are wondering whether ‘we’ should collectively get on board? We have an African-American man who doesn’t subscribe to photo ops with the president or ostensibly submit to influences un-related to the business of ‘God’ and there are African-American Christian leaders who will not get on this bus? I personally have not agreed with everything that the Nation of Islam stands for, but I can not and will not argue with their results in rehabilitating and rebuilding African-American men and the communities in which they live. The results speak volumes and are inarguable. The Nation is a necessary and viable component of our African-American community and conscience. To say otherwise would be disingenuous and truthfully…disrespectful. That’s coming from a Christian. As for the Christian ‘concerns’…for all the ‘questionable’ moral and financial behavior that has historically existed in the African-American Christian-themed church (i.e. Baptist, AME, Pentecostal etc.) this is reprehensible and a telling contradiction. We can look outside our windows in any city in America and see that ‘we’ are in trouble. We can turn on our television sets, watch these same televangelists one hour on one channel and then the next hour watch our people drown or waste away in New Orleans on another. Most importantly, we should be able to readily identify that although our Black ‘mega-churches’ are housed in sanctuaries larger than ever before, our hearts are also smaller and hardened more than ever before. It’s this type of greed, distrust and envy (i.e. Willie Lynch letter) that Minister Farrakhan spoke about and is indicative of our collective inability to organize effectively. The message is far more important than the messenger. I wish Christian leadership would exemplify more of this type of bold and radical ‘faith’ in conducting the business of the Lord and less time in photo shoots with prominent political figures. What is gained being pictured side by side with the president on any occasion if this same president is lackluster and lethargic in saving our people? We must be exceptionally clear as to who truly is friend to us and who is merely fodder for us. We as African-Americans must understand that not all of our ‘brothers’ are our friends and there is a friend that sticks closer than any brother. “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” - Proverbs 18:24 If you can’t get behind what the Millions More Movement stands for, then I can’t get behind you. I implore everyone OF faith or who has their life guided BY faith to USE their faith. Lean not unto your own understanding and step out on faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” - Hebrews 11:1 If we are ‘good’ Christians and mix our faith with our knowledge of ‘the word’ the spirit of worry should not be in our hearts. The question need not be asked whether Minister Farrakhan is the ‘right’ person to lead this charge. That’s not our job and surely should not be our focus. Let us do thy duty that is best and leave unto the Lord the rest. We as African-Americans sit in our pews and tithe weekly without specific knowledge where or to whom the money will ultimately go. In comparison this should be of little difference. This message is far more important than our respective petty differences that have stumped our spiritual and socioeconomic growth for decades. Until another ‘leader’ steps forth with a better national agenda and plan of action, the multitude should get in line and be ready to serve for the greater good. Back to the meeting… After Minister Farrakhan spoke, the various entertainment celebrities and icons each asked their questions as to this national agenda. In some cases, individuals expressed their cynicism as to whether ‘we’ will ever get it together. This meeting was substantial in its importance. It demonstrated to me and one-another that we still care deeply about the direction of African-Americans and (wink, wink) there are folks in high-places who will continue to work on our behalf behind the scenes. There is ‘hope’ as they say and there are workers moving about with diligence and also divorced from any spotlight. There will be more meetings like these I suspect which will lead to something more than just talk. If anything, it reaffirmed the importance of the Millions More Movement and detailed how ‘this time’ there’s a plan in place after the march. We’re moving forward with organization in the hope of positive change. You may not attend the march on the 15th; you may not even send a check in support. If your spirit does not resonate with this movement, then do or ‘do not’ as you must. But please ‘do not’add to the confusion, distrust and envy which as been the bane of our existence as African-Americans. Someone has at least been willing to put himself in harm’s way and lead the way. The least the rest of us can do is get in line…or get out of the way. Morris W. O’Kelly is a Producer/Editor of the Tavis Smiley Show on Public Radio International. The content of the Mo’Kelly Report reflects the views of the writer only and are neither specifically shared nor implicitly endorsed by The Smiley Group, Inc. or associated companies. He can be reached at [email protected] and welcomes all commentary. Speak Out Currently, 6 comments have been made on this story. View Comments or Post Comments.