By Katrina Muhammad @KatrinaMuhammad - The Final Call
DETROIT—For the first time in history the Million Man March Anniversary will take place in Detroit, Michigan, at the newly-named Aretha Franklin Amphitheater, previously known as Chene Park. On October 14, thousands of Muslims from the Nation of Islam (NOI), family members, friends and supporters are expected to converge in the city which will be a homecoming for the 88-year Islamic movement
This October marks the 23rd Anniversary of the Million Man March and Holy Day of Atonement. The mosque community as well as residents of the City of Detroit are very excited about the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and Nation of Islam returning to the city of its founding.
The historic event is expected to take place with weekend long activities starting on Friday, October 12 - Sunday, October 14. The keynote address by Min. Farrakhan will take place on Sunday, October 14.
Pastor Maurice Hardwick greets members of NOI Executive Council.
Key leaders in Detroit, community activists and organizers, clergy, civic leaders, entrepreneurs, educators, government officials, entertainers, Muhammad Mosque No. 1 Believers and other hard-working residents attended a town hall planning meeting about the Holy Day of Atonement at the only Black-owned hotel in Detroit in the Roberts Riverwalk Hotel newly-renovated Grand Ballroom.
It was a beautiful atmosphere with a view of the waterfront. The energy in the room was filled with excitement and anticipation of the discussion. Once the entire Nation of Islam Executive Council walked in the room to take their seats and start the Sept. meeting, the room filled to standing room only with approximately 300 people in attendance.
Student Minister Troy Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 1 in Detroit welcomed everyone. Student Min. Troy Muhammad and members of the leadership team made calls to invite the community to have a seat at the table of planning activities and to receive their blessing by helping the man of God.
A divine movement in an historic city
“The response of the city was the response based upon the love and the heart of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. It’s a response based upon the coming of Master Fard Muhammad in 1930 because so many Believers were affected by the coming of Master Fard Muhammad that you can’t identify a family that doesn’t have a Muslim member in the family, so we are already familiar with those teachings,” he explained.
Though Chicago is the international headquarters of the Nation, and is where its flagship Mosque Maryam is located, Detroit is where the NOI was founded and established, July 4, 1930 with the appearance of the Great Mahdi Master Fard Muhammad. It was in Black Bottom Detroit where Master Fard Muhammad met, raised and cultivated thousands of Black men, women and children—among them, his top student, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Over the recent years, the Nation has hosted its annual Saviours’ Day Convention, commemorating the birth of Master Fard Muhammad in Detroit—the last gathering in the city coming in 2017. However, this is the first time the city will host the anniversary of the 1995 Million Man March called by God through Min. Farrakhan.
“When one comes teaching those teachings, it resonates with the people here, the words of the Honorable Louis Farrakhan resonate with our people here in Detroit, there is no question that the people will come out based on his name. I’m appreciative that they came out and I thank the people of Detroit for attending this meeting on behalf of the Minister,” Student Min. Troy Muhammad continued.
“People know that he donated 90,000 Final Call newspapers—and that cost, and that he wants to do a free event for the city of Detroit and everyone wants to do their part to alleviate the burden for the Minister. We chose the Riverwalk Hotel for this meeting because it is the only Black-owned hotel in the city, and because Mike Roberts is a strong supporter of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. If you want to attend this event and you live in Detroit, contact Muhammad Mosque No. 1.”
Min. Farrakhan gifted the City of Detroit with a special commemorative editions of the newspaper featuring the iconic Aretha Franklin, who called Detroit home. Ms. Franklin died Aug. 16.
Stu. Minister Ishmael Muhammad, National Assistant for Min. Farrakhan introduced each NOI Executive Council member and shared very important words about the history of the Million Man March and why Detroit is a special, spiritual and important city as Mecca to the Muslim followers of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad.
"It gives me great joy to come back home, personally, because it’s the city of my mother. And this is where we buried my mother,” he said, reflecting on his mother, Tynnetta Muhammad, wife of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad.
“This is the city of my father, the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. So, I have roots here, and each time I come, to be honest, I start realizing more and more that I really am connected to Detroit even though I wasn’t raised here. But more than that, this city is such a sacred city, and it has so many great men and women in this city,” said Student Min. Ishmael Muhammad.
If Detroit is resurrected and rises in truth the whole of Black America will rise from Detroit, he explained. “It’s a sister city to Chicago. Detroit and Chicago when they rise, the whole of Black America will rise. So, I am excited that we have been connecting with Detroit over the last five years; three Saviours’ Days in Detroit over the last five years, and now to come back in the month of October which is the month of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad’s birth, and of course the 23rd anniversary,” he continued.
“I’m still grasping what this all means because the Minister is moved by a higher power, so it is not an accident that Allah (God) has put in him the spirit to come here, to distribute 90,000 copies, that means this city is loved by the God and He is making Detroit to know how much He loves Detroit through Brother Farrakhan.”
The Minister has a heart that is a heart after the heart of God, Stu. Minister Ishmael Muhammad stated.
A call for community
One of many Detroit residents who attended the gathering expressed excitement and heart felt sentiments about Minister Farrakhan coming to Detroit.
During the town hall meeting, Student Min. Ishmael Muhammad stated that the purpose of the community gathering was to announce a call for help from the community to work together in the spirit of love and unity, a theme of the Million Man March. Attendees applauded, and many began announcing their desire to support the event and help the Minister and the Nation.
Other members of the NOI Executive Council including Berve Muhammad, Student National Secretary; Leonard F. Muhammad, longtime aide to Min. Farrakhan; and Mustapha Farrakhan, Student Supreme Captain and son of Min. Farrakhan addressed the town hall.
“Generally the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan recognizes this is our Mecca and to come back home to where it all began and the first time for the Day of Atonement address here is just befitting. The spirit moved him and it is apparent already that Allah and His Christ are guiding him,” said Berve Muhammad.
People shared testimonials of gratitude for the 90,000 Final Call newspapers and many stood up to express how Islam and words of Min. Farrakhan saved their lives and pledged their assistance in bringing the Holy Day of Atonement to Detroit.
Several city officials and Detroit Police Department representatives stood up and boldly professed that whenever Min. Farrakhan comes to Detroit, “we roll out the red carpet for him because we know who he is.” Many enthusiastically shouted their thanks to God and agreed wholeheartedly.
Fraternity and sorority members were also present. Lanre Musa Lee of Omega Psi Phi said bringing Holy Day of Atonement to Detroit is fantastic and something that is needed in light of high crime and violence plaguing Black communities.
“Definitely, the Nation of Islam has my support and also the support of my fraternity of the brothers of Omega Psi Phi, Incorporated. Anything I can do to assist in the endeavors of the NOI and to better our community as a whole I’m all for it.”
“I think it was a loving expression of brothers and sisters coming together for some greatness, because God we do some greatness in this city and throughout this country. I love Minister Farrakhan and I went to the Million Man March and I’m 62 years old. God is about love,” said Keith Williams, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party.
“This is a great time to have the event here because the people in Detroit have suffered a lot, they have gone through a lot of ups and downs, where people have had money and where Detroit has had a down turn where people have struggled,” said Eric Sabree, Wayne County treasurer.
“I think that there are very strong people here, very resilient people, and with the Million Man March and Atonement, we have to look at ourselves with the Million Man March anniversary. It will help us look at ourselves and see how we can strengthen ourselves and take control of our community like we should,” he added.
One of the original organizers of the march 23 years ago also attended the meeting, Reverend Joann Watson. “This was magnificent, what an outpouring of love and respect and investment in our collective future. What a wonderful way to honor the Minister’s coming. We love Minister Farrakhan. We love him and honor him and thank him for choosing this location one more time, one more time,” she said.
She and others helped organize men in Detroit to attend the march. “I did not go, we helped brothers go, we sent our money off and packed lunches for them. I continue to meet with a group of men that formed a Million Man Alumni on the bus ride back home from D.C. I meet with them every Thursday, we are the ones organizing Black business bus tours. Many of the things the men planned to happen has happened. The Million Man spirit is alive,” said Rev. Watson.
Members of the NOI Executive Council at Detroit community leadership meeting, including: Front row l-r; Leonard F. Muhammad, Imam Sultan R. Muhammad, Student Minister Dr. Ava Muhammad, Student Minister Ishmael R. Muhammad, Attorney Abdul Arif Muhammad. Second row l-r; Student National Secretary Berve Muhammad, Student National MGT Captain Sandy Muhammad, MGT Captain Emeritus A’ishah Muhammad, Student Protocol Director Thomas Muhammad, Student Minister Dr. Wesley Muhammad.
Many other Muslim leaders were present at the town hall and very pleased with the announcement. Imam Mikail Stewart Saadiq stated, “This is a wonderful gathering, and I’m grateful to Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Executive Committee for bringing all these leaders together from different faiths, people that care about the condition of Black people, and the City of Detroit.”
Imam Saadiq added the event will bring a good spirit into the city. The Million Man March was transformative, he explained. “It did a lot for me as a young person even though I wasn’t able to attend because of exams, I was very young at the time, and I still feel the effects on my person and also my direction towards becoming an imam and loving Islam, and my people.”
Pastor Paul Fudge who opened the meeting in prayer said he was honored to be a part of the leadership and community town hall.
“It is something that our city needs; it’s something that we as men need, the women need. We just need this unity. Detroit is in position now where there is a lot of gun violence, killings, our own Blacks killing each other, and we need a healing now,” said Pastor Fudge.
“I believe that Minister Farrakhan is anointed by God, and yes I’m a Christian and he is Muslim but I still believe he is anointed by God, and it is just his time to come here and give us a message of hope and it is just what we need and I’m looking forward to it. There was just so much power in this meeting tonight. I was just sitting there absorbing it, and now it is time for this power that has come together to now manifest!” (Final Call staff contributed to this report.)