From The Final Call Newspaper

Hip Hop: Five Decades of innovation, influence and impact

By Charlene Muhammad, National Correspondent
- June 6, 2023

From Bronx block parties to global domination, hip hop’s influence has endured for half a century. In 2023, the world celebrates a genre that has not only shaped music but also impacted fashion, art, and social activism.

Fifty years ago, in the vibrant neighborhoods of the Bronx, New York, a cultural revolution was born. It grew to include the “five elements of hip hop,” emceeing (rapping), deejaying, break dancing, graffiti and beatboxing. It has evolved into a global phenomenon that has transcended racial, geographical, and language boundaries. Celebrations are in the works nationally and internationally.

Rap artist Sister Souljah speaks at a conference in New York City on June 16, 1992. Souljah made claims that U.S. Presidential candidate Bill Clinton wasn’t in touch with the problems of Black-America. Hip-hop star Doug E. Fresh is in the background. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“The detractors have been proven very wrong. Hip hop at its genesis was, in my opinion, a God-inspired phenomenon,” stated Student Minister Dr. Wesley Muhammad, an author, researcher and Ph.D. in Islamic Studies. He is also a member of the Nation of Islam.

Student Minister Muhammad thinks that hip hop’s turning 50 has unfortunately morphed from what began as a God-inspired phenomenon into one that is fake and controlled. The reason is, the power of hip hop is so large in that it shapes thought and life so, it’s very important who is riding this black stallion, he pointed out. “We have to get God back in the saddle of hip hop,” he stated.

The birth of a movement

In the early 1970s, hip hop emerged from the streets, fueled by the creativity and resilience of marginalized Black and Brown communities. According to many hip hop historians, the origins are traceable to a back-to-school party in the rec room of a Bronx apartment building in 1973.

Pioneers like DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa laid the foundation, introducing innovative techniques like breakbeats and turntablism, or scratching—the manipulation of sounds and samples to create new beats.

The energy and spirit of hip hop resonated with a generation hungry for self-expression, and a movement was born. The founder of the Five Percenters (a.k.a. the Nation of Gods and Earths) was Clarence 13X Smith (a.k.a. Father Allah), a former member of the Nation of Islam’s Temple No. 7 and is credited with taking aspects of the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad known as the Supreme Wisdom, to young people in New York. For many, during the late 1980s and mid-1990s, their first exposure to the voice of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan was hearing his speeches mixed over beats, or perhaps a reference in a rap song.

There isn’t another phenomenon that has shaped culture and society over the past five decades, on a global level to the extent that hip hop is, noted Student Minister Muhammad.

Flavor Flav, left, and Chuck D. of the rap group Public Enemy, pose for photographers upon their arrival for the MTV Music Awards at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, Sept. 8, 1994. (AP Photo/Malcolm Clarke)

“That’s why you know it’s God-inspired. Only God can make another god, and hip hop as a phenomenon is a being of power and force, like no other, certainly no other cultural or even intellectual phenomenon,” he told The Final Call.

“Its reach, its impact, is not just on Blacks, but on Whites. Most consumers of hip hop music commercially are White. So its influence in shaping thought, shaping culture, and shaping behavior is tremendous and I believe unparalleled,” he added.

The Golden Era

The 1980s and ‘90s were known as the Golden Era and there was a rise of iconic artists such as Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, N.W.A, and A Tribe Called Quest, who pushed the boundaries of lyrical storytelling and musical production. Hip hop became a powerful medium for addressing social issues, shedding light on the realities of urban life, police brutality, and systemic injustice.

Albums like, “It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back” by Public Enemy, “By All Means Necessary,” by Boogie Down Productions, “Illmatic,” by Nas, “The Chronic,” by Dr. Dre, “Ready to Die” by Notorious B.I.G. and many more became timeless classics. And though there were few in the beginning, women began taking their place and making their mark in the rap game, including MC Sha-Rock, Roxanne Shante, MC Lyte, Salt-N- Pepa and Queen Latifah,just to name a few.

The genre’s influence began to reach far beyond the streets of New York.

Rap artist/actor Ice Cube poses for a portrait in this Sept. 5, 2002, file photo taken in Los Angeles. Nine months after the Academy Award acting wins by Denzel Washington and Halle Berry, 2002 has turned out to be a good year for African-American actors and black themes in an industry perpetually rebuked for its lack of racial diversity. He scored with “Barbershop,” and had two other films, “All About the Benjamins” and “Friday After Next,” the third in his series of “Friday” comedies. All three movies were developed through Ice Cube’s production company, which the rapper-turned-actor started to broaden his roles.(AP Photo/Reed Saxon,file)

“Hip hop has always been there for me as a genre,” said Big Boy (Kurt Alexander) of the nationally syndicated podcast “Big Boy’s Neighborhood.”

“I was there when it was a ‘fad,’ ‘what is that you’re listening to,’ ‘it’s never gonna last,’” he said. He even tried to rap, to the point he received detention and almost got suspended for participating in cyphers and rapping, Big Boy told The Final Call. He even remembers what the audience used to look like, and that wasn’t a time when every radio outlet was playing some type of hip hop, as today, he said.

“If you were lucky, you got a mixture or something on the weekend … not stations dedicated to it. It was categorized,” stated Big Boy.

Seeing where the culture came from to where it is now, including concerts comprised of all Black and Brown people, to Beyonce and Jay Z at the Hollywood Bowl shows a striking change, he said. “That’s because of the way the crowd looks now, how it’s accepted. But hip hop has always been with me since my early days,” he shared.

Hip hop is a long way from the days he and his friend, Trevor, would walk to the Boys and Girls Club in Santa Monica, rapping “Rappers’ Delight,” Whodini and LL Cool J. “Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane, Special Ed, everyone had their own sound and it resonated across the world. Everybody stood out and there were no sloppy carbon copies,” said Big Boy.

It was a texture of something unknown to the masses, but Black youth knew how big it was and what it meant to them, Big Boy reflected. “We knew what it felt like. There was a time when you used to look hip hop. Where you wore a Kango (hat), Gazelles (eyeglasses), a break dance suit, Adidas, and someone could look at you and say, ‘They must listen to hip hop!’” said Big Boy.

“I love where it’s at, but I also loved when it was also like a private community too. I love sharing it, but I loved when it was our own.”

Evolving sounds, subgenres and going mainstream

As the new millennium approached, hip hop’s influence exploded onto the global stage. Artists like Jay Z, Eminem, and Missy Elliott achieved commercial success while maintaining artistic integrity, bridging the gap between the underground and the mainstream. New digital technology and the rise of the internet allowed hip hop to reach audiences around the world, creating a truly global community of fans and artists.
DJ Kool Herc, the Jamaican-born DJ considered the father of hip-hop, shows off a photograph of himself in a magazine, next to JFK, Jr., recognizing the DJ as one of New York’s most influential people, during a Hip-Hop tour of New York, Saturday April 26, 2003. It was Herc, at parties in the early 1970s, who began playing the instrumental segments of songs over and over again while speaking in rhyme over them. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

As Nipsey Hussle rapped in “That’s How I Knew,” “It’s like a gold rush, it’s never been a time like this in our generation; It’s our equivalent of the Gold Rush with everybody movin’ to California; This technology has empowered everybody; And it’s giving people, you know, it’s as big as you wanna make it and, you know, it’s as far as you take it …”

Hip hop is now a multi-billion-dollar industry. According to, back in 2006, ABC News did a special report and announced that the hip hop industry was worth more than $10 billion a year. “By the time 2016 rolled around, the market grew to $15.7 billion. Year over year, the industry is projected to grow at a rate of $4.08 billion,” the website noted.

The 50-year journey has been marked by constant evolution and innovation. From the soulful beats of the ‘70s to the trap-infused anthems of the present day, the genre has continuously reinvented itself while struggling to stay true to its roots.

Subgenres like gangster rap, conscious rap, and mumble rap have emerged, reflecting the diverse voices and experiences within the hip hop community. Artists like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole are pushing the boundaries and redefining what it means to be a hip hop artist in the 21st century.

“I believe Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, are signs that you don’t have to be ratchet to be good as a rapper and you don’t have to be ratchet to be successful,” stated Student Minister Muhammad. He observed that “message rap,” is seemingly trying to have some success in the mainstream arena of hip hop. But the reality is there’s always been message rap, except it was confined to the margins, void of the production that major labels provided for mainstream, commercial hip hop, which itself had a message, but had the message of our enemy, he added.

Influence beyond music

Beyond beats and rhymes, hip hop has had a profound impact on various aspects of culture. Fashion trends influenced by hip hop icons like Run-D.M.C.’s Adidas tracksuits, the flamboyant style of Lil’ Kim, and the streetwear aesthetic of Kanye West have permeated mainstream fashion. Clothing brands such as Cross Colours, Karl Kani, Phat Farm and RocaWear and other “streetwear” lines grew out of the growing influence of the culture.

The culture has also impacted the big screen. Early films like, “Beat Street,” “Breakin’,”Krush Groove,” and many more introduced hip hop to the masses via Hollywood. Rap artists expanded their talents and skills to the acting arena including Ice-T, Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Tupac Shakur, Method Man, Ice Cube, Yasin Bey (aka Mos Def) and the list continues to grow.

Hip-hop artist Kurtis Blow stands in the Harlem neighborhood where he grew up in New York, Oct. 8, 2003. (AP Photo/Jim Cooper)

Outkast’s Andre Benjamin, left, and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton pose in New York, Oct. 30, 2003. Outkast’s newest album, the double CD set “Speakerboxxx-The Love Below,” has sold more than 3 million copies since its September release, has spawned the nation’s top two singles (the No. 1 “Hey Ya!” from Andre and “I Like The Way You Move,” from counterpart Big Boi) and has netted the band six Grammy award nominations, including album of the year, where they are favored to win at the Feb. 8 ceremony in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jim Cooper)

Graffiti art, originally a form of self-expression in urban neighborhoods, has become a recognized art form, exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide. Moreover, hip hop has provided a platform for social activism, empowering marginalized voices and shedding light on social and political issues.

As hip hop celebrates its 50th birthday, historians, artists and fans are reflecting on the genre’s remarkable journey from its humble beginnings to its status as a global cultural force. Observers marvel as it continues to defy expectations, challenge stereotypes, and give a voice to those often unheard.

Author, hip hop historian and journalist Davey D and others involved with hip hop in the 70s didn’t think it was going to last, he recalled. “But we were all so young,” he told The Final Call.

In hindsight, considering the totality of Black cultural expression, hip hop turning 50 shouldn’t be a surprise, Davey D continued. He views the genre as a continuum of Black people’s accomplishments, just under a different name. “It’s an oral tradition. We’ve always had that in our community, whether it was rhyming, syncopated singing, the dozens, signifying, testifying, all those type of verbal word games. Some of them test your skills, how clever you were, or how seductive you could sound, all that has been here before hip hop showed up,” said Davey D.

In addition, Black people have always had dance and move their bodies which was stifled during their enslavement as a way to get them to conform, he observed. But in their full naturalness, Black people have always danced, he said.

“If you look at the whole of history, at least here in the states, Black expression starts off being demonized,” stated Davey D. From Jazz to Funk and Soul music, hip hop has been demonized and continues to be, so as aspects of hip hop are considered classics, in hindsight, we shouldn’t be surprised that it’s 50 years old, he stated.

“It’s probably going to go another 50 and then some, because Black expression doesn’t die. It just manifests itself with slightly different angles and sometimes a different name.”

This is the first in an occasional series of articles by The Final Call examining and highlighting the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop. Final Call staff contributed to this report.

Grandmaster Flash gestures as he arrives at the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network’s first annual Action Awards benefit and dinner, Tuesday, Nov 18, 2003, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

R&B performer KRS-One reacts as he looks at his award during the Billboard R&B Hip-Hop Awards Friday, Aug. 6, 2004 in Miami Beach, Fla. KRS-One received the 2004 R&B Founders Award. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

Members of the rap group Run-DMC pose at the second Annual MTV Video Music Awards, Sept. 13,1985. Left to right: DMC, Run, and Jam-Master Jay. (AP Photo/Mario Suriani)

Rapper Busta Rhymes, center, poses while arriving for the first UPN’s The Source Hip Hop Music Awards at the Pantages Theater in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles Wednesday, Aug. 18, 1999. Lopes is co-hosting the show. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

Hip Hop artist Rakim performs during the third annual VH1 Hip Hop Honors awards show Saturday, Oct. 7, 2006 in New York. Rakim was honored during the show which will air Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2006.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Rapper MC Lyte is photographed in New York, Oct. 7, 2006. (AP Photo/Jim Cooper)

Crazy Legs of the Rock Steady Crew arrives at the Illegal Tender premiere at the Chelsea West Cinema in New York, Monday, Aug. 20, 2007. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

**FILE** The family of rapper Notorious B.I.G., shown clutching his awards at the Billboard Music Awards in New York, on Dec. 6, 1995, has asked a Los Angeles judge for permission to expand their wrongful-death lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles. Notorious B.I.G., born Christopher Wallace, was fatally shot in 1997 in a sport utility vehicle shortly after a party in Los Angeles.(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Rapper Tupac Shakur, right, speaks as fellow rap artist Snoop Doggy Dogg listens during a voter registration rally in South Central Los Angeles on August 15, 1996. Late Saturday night, September 7, 1996, Shakur and Death Row Records chairman Marion “Suge” Knight were shot in their car as they drove through the Las Vegas Strip area. (AP Photo/Frank Wiese)

The rap group Salt-N-Pepa joins arms as they march with a young girl in a Stop the Violence march in the Brooklyn borough of New York Sunday, Aug. 17, 1997. Salt-N-Pepa, from left, Cheryl James (Salt), Sandra Denton (Pepa) and Deidra Roper (Spinderella) were honored guests at the event. (AP Photo/Doug Kanter)

The rap music group, “The Fat Boys,” get together with NBA basketball great Julius Dr. J. Erving, background, at news conference on Monday, April 7,1987 in New York, to promote his new video “Dr. J’s Basketball Stuff.” The group consists of , left to right, Mark Morales, Damon Wimbley and Darren Robinson. (AP Photo/Wilbur Funches)

Queen Latifah poses following an interview in New York Sept. 27, 1996. Despite her first major film role in “Set It Off” and the popularity of her TV sitcom “Living Single,” Latifah’s roots remain deeply embedded in the rap music that turned the former Dana Owens into The Queen. (Wyatt Counts via AP)

Breakdancers, April 1984, New York, Brooklyn. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Break dancers in competition perform on stage in front of a large crowd.

American hip hop musician and rapper Roxanne Shante, wearing an outfit by Dapper Dan, circa 1989. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)”n”n

LOS ANGELES – FEBRUARY 5: HIP HOP 50 performance at THE 65TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS, broadcasting live Sunday, February 5, 2023 (8:00-11:30 PM, LIVE ET/5:00-8:30 PM, LIVE PT) on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+*. (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)

American Rapper Too Short (Also spelled Too $hort. Born Todd Anthony Shaw) poses for a portrait on August 19, 1998 in New York, New York. (Photo By Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

From The Final Call Newspaper

Tina Turner – A trailblazer and a life of resilience
By William P. Muhammad
- May 30, 2023

Remembering the iconic rock legend Tina Turner

Described as an unapologetically Black woman who overcame the indignities of rural poverty, the seduction of a meteoric rise to fame, and the scourge of domestic violence, the iconic Queen of Rock-and-Roll, Tina Turner, 83, made her transition from this life on May 24. Ms. Turner left to the world a legacy of personal transformation and redemption, after battling a long illness in Switzerland, her adopted country and home for nearly 30 years.

Born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, to a sharecropping family in Brownsville, Tennessee, she was sent as a young child to Nutbush, Tennessee, upon the separation of her parents, where she was raised by her grandparents and it was there, she began singing in church as a teenager.

Moving to St. Louis years later, to become part of the local Rhythm and Blues community, it was there she met Ike Turner, and in 1956, under the stage name Tina Turner, she began touring the “Chitlin’ Circuit” as the Ike and Tina Turner Revue until their hit single, “A Fool in Love,” made the pop charts in 1960.

“When I started singing, Ike had mostly male singers and I wanted to sound like they sound,” Tina Turner said in a 1972 interview on The Dick Cavett Show. “I’ve been singing all of my life, but when I started singing with him, I wanted to sound like them and like Ray Charles and all,” she said of her early music role models such as Mr. Charles and Sam Cooke.

Marrying Ike Turner in 1962, their rise to national and international fame increased albeit in a toxic relationship secretly marred by extreme domestic violence and physical abuse, ultimately leading Ms. Turner to file for divorce in 1976, and made final in 1978. Commenting on her 1986 autobiography, “I, Tina (My Life Story)” and the 1993 biopic, “What’s Love Got To Do With It,”

Ms. Turner said on the Australian television program, “A Current Affair,” that although Ike exposed her to the entertainment industry, which helped develop her natural born gifts and talents, she also described how her ex-husband’s troubled past, and addictions made him into a violent man who was a danger to both him and to others.

“The book was written because I was having a problem with every interviewer talking about my past, and with Ike, and I felt that if I told the story of what my life was like there, people would understand why I left, and then they all went crazy to want to know how I stayed there,” Ms. Turner said of their tumultuous years together during the 1993 interview. “Ike was a violent man when I met him, with his ladies before, his women before, I knew that he was a violent person,” Ms. Turner said. “He was a brutal man; he had some problems from childhood, and it sort of reflected in his life.”

Ms. Turner sold more than 100 million records worldwide and was one of the best-selling female artists of all time and won 12 Grammy Awards.

Tributes to the life and legacy of Ms. Turner came in from around the world. “Tina Turner was raw. She was powerful. She was unstoppable. And she was unapologetically herself—speaking and singing her truth through joy and pain; triumph and tragedy. Today we join fans around the world in honoring the Queen of Rock and Roll, and a star whose light will never fade,” former U.S. President Barack Obama said on Twitter.

Angela Basset, who portrayed Ms. Turner in “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” shared her reflections on Instagram. “How do we say farewell to a woman who owned her pain and trauma and used it as a means to help change the world?” Ms. Bassett shared.

“Through her courage in telling her story, her commitment to stay the course in her life, no matter the sacrifice, and her determination to carve out a space in rock and roll for herself and for others who look like her, Tina Turner showed others who lived in fear what a beautiful future filled with love, compassion, and freedom should look like,” her post continued.

“Her final words to me – for me – were ‘You never mimicked me. Instead, you reached deep into your soul, found your inner Tina, and showed her to the world.’ I shall hold these words close to my heart for the rest of my days.

I am honored to have known Tina Turner. I am humbled to have helped show her to the world. So on today, while we mourn the loss of this iconic voice and presence, she gave us more than we could have ever asked. She gave us her whole self. And Tina Turner is a gift that will always be ‘simply the best.’ Angels sing thee to thy rest…Queen.”

Defining an era in music

** ARCHIV ** Weltstar Tina Turner in Toronto am 24. Jan. 2005. Turner erhaelt ihre zweite Goldene Kamera. Wie die Axel Springer AG am Donnerstag, 27. Jan. 2005, in Berlin mitteilte, wird die seit Jahrzehnten im Musikgeschaeft erfolgreiche Saengerin am 9. Februar von der Fernsehzeitung “Hoer zu” mit der Goldenen Kamera in der Kategorie “Pop International” ausgezeichnet. (AP Photo/CP, Aaron Harris)

Defining an era in music

Dr. Daphne A. Brooks, professor of African American Studies and Music at Yale University and an author, told The Final Call that she views Tina Turner as an inventor of modern rock-and-roll vocals that have evolved into what is now known as modern pop vocals. Tina Turner’s major hits would grow from: “River Deep, Mountain High” and “Nutbush City Limits,” recorded in her early years with Ike, and solo albums later in her career such as 1984’s “Private Dancer,” which included her hit song “What’s Love Got to Do with It” and 1986’s “Break Every Rule.”

“She really was the bridge figure between the sound of the classic blues queens,” Dr. Brooks said. “Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Alberta Hunter, the early rock-and-roll pioneers, and R&B pioneers of the mid-1950s, folks like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Big Mama Thornton, and when I say bridge figure, she took all of that history and then translated it into the modern moment in which rock-and-roll itself was becoming further amplified and electrified,” she explained of Ms. Turner’s energy, stage presence, and talent.

“So, she cultivated and innovated a kind of vocalizing that could stand up to that heavy electric sound and hold its own,” Dr. Brooks said of Tina Turner’s unique contribution to the genre. “In terms of inventing and vocalizing, performers across the board, White men, Black men, Black women, who came after her, could tap into a Tina Turner who paved the way.”

Describing her as a musically revolutionary voice for her time, Dr. Brooks added that her unique voice and performances helped to create and define an era in American music that captivated audiences both nationally and internationally.

Tina Turner smiles during an appearance in Toronto Monday, January 24, 2005. A fit looking Turner brought her pipes and legs to the city on Monday, launching a week-long promotional blitz for a new compilation CD. (AP Photo/Aaron Harris)

“One of the things that is so compelling about her is that she really wanted to lean into rock-and-roll’s evolving sound, in the late ’60s and in the ’70s, as a way of laying claim to something that was revolutionary in her own spirit,” Dr. Brooks noted. “In that sense, she became a really distinctive Black woman’s voice. She added a Black woman’s perspective and embodied audacity to the sound of rock-and-roll, calling attention to the fact that African Americans were the architects of the genre itself.”

Regarding her film performances, Tina Turner’s appearances were as significant as they were few. In a 1986 broadcast with Italian interviewer Serena Dandini, Ms. Turner described herself as preferring dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction roles over the stereotypical roles traditionally offered to Black women in the 1960s and ’70s, while referring to her 1975 film debut.

“I think the very first was ‘Tommy,’ I played the part of Acid Queen and when I took the part, I didn’t know I was playing the part of a hooker,” Ms. Turner said, recalling her character in what was both a musical and a rock opera movie. “I took the part because I got the chance to be this mad woman and when they gave me the needle (in a drug scene), I said ‘ah, I’m providing drugs!’”

Ms. Turner said in the interview that after playing the Acid Queen in “Tommy,” roles offered to her were mostly those of prostitutes and that she refused to take them.

“I didn’t want it. I didn’t just want to be on the screen just for the sake of being up there. I wanted to do something that people would remember me for, something that I would enjoy and be proud of,” she said. “I look back at Acid Queen now and sort of flinch when I see her, how horrible it was, but still, people liked it and they remembered it.”

Stating that her favorite movie role was that of Aunty Entity in the 1985 film, “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” Ms. Turner said her stereotype-breaking character fit her personality as a “warrior woman” and that she admired strong female characters in science fiction movies such as Sigourney Weaver’s character in the “Alien” franchise and the Sarah Conner character in the “Terminator” films. She also said she turned down the role of Celie in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “The Color Purple,” and said it reminded her too much of her past.

“I don’t want to sing in a movie. I’m singing. I have my own career as a singer,” Ms. Turner stated further. “I want to do something unusual. I don’t want to be involved with something as depressing as (The Color Purple), it reflects too much back on my life with my ex-husband,” she said. “I’m talking always with the press about my life, and I have to do a movie? I’m trying to forget the past, because it’s done, it’s over, I finished that part of my life. I’m not going to do a part that reminds me of what I’ve lived already.”

Referring to Tina Turner’s part in the post-apocalyptic “Beyond Thunderdome” movie with Mel Gibson, Dr. Brooks told The Final Call that her singing of the movie’s theme song matched the tensions and politics of the 1980s and the uncertainties of the latter days of the Cold War.

“In the version where Tina Turner appears, she is leading the disaffected masses, in the wake of apocalyptic disaster, and one of my favorite songs by her comes from her performance in that film, and it’s the theme song to that film: ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero,’” Dr. Brooks added.

“It’s worth remembering that that’s a song from 1985, so deep in the Reagan, Bush one era, here we have Tina Turner, the comeback global superstar, singing what is arguably her most important social justice song, about the importance of collectivity and assembly, and being able to come together in the face of authoritarianism.”

Regarding what Tina Turner’s life represented, beyond the fame and violence she had to overcome, Dr. Brooks agreed that parallels between her being trapped in an oppressive relationship and breaking free to find her own voice, and that of the Black American experience, is worth further examination. “We don’t do ourselves any good service on lingering on the horrors that Tina Turner faced, the best place to end up is luxuriating in the riveting art that she created for us and left behind,” she said.

—William P. Muhammad, Contributing Writer

Honoring the life of Jim Brown
By Charlene Muhammad, National Correspondent
- May 30, 2023

The passing of James Nathaniel Brown, known to the world as Jim Brown, has
left many saddened, but people finding comfort in his remarkable contributions
to humanity, including his athleticism, civil/human rights activism, films, and
peacekeeping discussed why he will always be remembered.

Former Cleveland Browns’ Jim Brown waves as he is introduced at
halftime during a Cleveland Cavaliers vs Toronto Raptors NBA
basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010, in Cleveland.
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

With profound sadness, his wife, Monique Brown, announced his
passing on Instagram: “He passed peacefully last night at our
L.A. Home. To the world he was an activist, actor, and football star.
To our family, he was a loving and wonderful husband, father, and
grandfather. Our hearts are broken… .” Mr. Brown passed away at
the age of 87 on May 18.

In the 1960s as a member of the Nation of Islam, Muhammad Ali
shared his reasons for refusing the draft during the Vietnam War
at a meeting of the Negro Industrial and Economic Union in
Cleveland on June 4, 1967. Jim Brown was among the professional
athletes (including Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Carl Stokes,
Walter Beach, Bobby Mitchell, Sid Williams, Curtis McClinton,
Willie Davis, Jim Shorter, and John Wooten) who stood with the
boxer who was outspoken on racism and issues that impacted Black

“My sincerest condolences to Monique and the entire Brown family.
I am here for you in friendship & forever,” tweeted Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,
the NBA Hall of Famer. He posted that when he was 20, Mr. Brown invited
him to attend the Cleveland Summit, which was Mr. Abdul-Jabbar’s first
public support for Muhammad Ali. “Jim’s dedication to the fight for equal
rights was a lifelong effort and something that enabled me to maintain our
friendship for over 50 years. The world and I will miss him greatly,” read
his tweet.

Former Detroit Lions running back Barry Saunders posted, “You can’t
underestimate the impact #JimBrown had on the @NFL. He will be greatly
missed. Additionally, his generosity and friendship with my family is a gift
that we will always treasure. Our thoughts & prayers are with the Brown
Family & @Browns fans at this time.”

Mr. Brown, was a Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame running back and was
inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971 and named to the NFL’s
100th anniversary all-time team in 2019.

The NFL extended condolences to Monique Brown and their family
in a statement from Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Jim Brown was a
gifted athlete—one of the most dominant players to ever step on any
athletic field—but also a cultural figure who helped promote change.

During his nine-year NFL career, which coincided with the civil rights
movement here at home, he became a forerunner and role model for athletes
being involved in social initiatives outside the sport. He inspired fellow
athletes to make a difference, especially in the communities in which they
lived,” said Mr. Goodell.

“It’s impossible to describe the profound love and gratitude we feel for
having the opportunity to be a small piece of Jim’s incredible life and l
egacy. We mourn his passing, but celebrate the indelible light he brought
to the world,” The Cleveland Browns said in a statement on Twitter.
“Jim Brown Forever,” tweeted the Cleveland Browns, who called him
a legend, leader, activist and visionary.

In this Sept. 27, 2014, file photo, Hall of Fame football player Jim
Brown meets with other participants of the Muhammad Ali
Humanitarian Award at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky.
A social activist most of his adult life, Brown has been encouraged to
see athletes make powerful societal statements and voice their opinions
in the wake of recent protests around the country.
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

“We lost a hero today. Rest in Paradise to the legend Jim Brown. I hope
every Black athlete takes the time to educate themselves about this
incredible man and what he did to change all of our lives. We all stand
on your shoulders Jim Brown,” said Lebron James of the L.A. Lakers
on Instagram on May 19.

“If you grew up in Northeast Ohio and were Black, Jim Brown was
a God. As a kid who loved football, I really just thought of him as the
greatest Cleveland Brown to ever play. Then I started my own journey
as a professional athlete and realized what he did socially was his true
greatness. When I choose to speak out, I always think about Jim Brown.
I can only speak because Jim broke down those walls for me,” the NBA
all-time leading scorer continued.

“I am so grateful that I was able to call you my friend. I hope I can
continue to honor your legacy with my words and actions. My prayers
to your family. I know they are all incredibly proud of everything you
did for our community! #LegendsNeverDie,” added Mr. James’ post.

Jim Brown with Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) at Sport Magazine
Top Performance Award on Jan. 19, 1966. (AP Photo)

Mr. Brown was a man who made his own decisions even if others did
not understand or agree with him and like all human beings, he was imperfect.
But his conflict resolution efforts, which he was fully committed to, saved
and impacted many lives.

Student Minister Abdul Malik Sayyid Muhammad, Western Region
Representative of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the
Nation of Islam, grew to know and love Mr. Brown through his
Amer-I-Can Life Skills Management Program, now being taught in
schools, jails, and prisons across the country.

“I learned a lot from Jim, in terms of how Jim related to the brothers and
sisters in the street, being that he’s the great, Jim Brown, legendary football
player and actor. Similar to Harry (Belafonte), he didn’t have that kind of chip
on his shoulder, thinking he was ever better than his people,” stated Student
Min. Muhammad.

According to Student Min. Muhammad, Mr. Brown’s interactions with gang
leaders and members left a lasting impact. By providing support and encouragement,
he empowered them to transition from a negative to a positive lifestyle. This
approach was incredibly influential and meaningful.

“That won me over! Because he had a powerful, powerful Amer-I-can program,
which actually became the catalyst and I would say the template for gang intervention
in Los Angeles, that started maybe a few years after Amer-I-Can,” explained
Student Min. Muhammad.

“He was like the go-to cat for all these brothers and sisters in the streets. They
trusted Jim and they could go to Jim for advice and it was just beautiful to see
that all these brothers and sisters in the streets—hardened, ex-criminals—
trusted Jim Brown because it’s hard to win the trust of the streets,” he stated.

Student Min. Muhammad expressed admiration for Mr. Brown’s exceptional
achievements, emphasizing that his unparalleled athletic accomplishments
during the turbulent 1960s, a time marked by significant challenges for Black
people, solidify his status as the greatest. Additionally, he acknowledged Mr.
Brown’s courageous stance as one of the first Black athletes to jeopardize his
career for the advancement of Black people.

Reportedly, in 1966, Mr. Brown announced his retirement to pursue
his acting career and other interests. After the 1965 season ended, Mr.
Brown was filming “The Dirty Dozen” in London, when Cleveland Brown’s
owner Art Modell issued an ultimatum by threatening to fine him if the
running back was late or failed to show up to training camp. He was only
29 when he stepped away from the NFL.

“I honestly like you and will be willing to help you in any way I can, but I
feel you must realize that both of us are men and that my manhood is just
as important to me as yours is to you,” wrote Mr. Brown, in a letter attributed
to him on website. He held a press conference to announce his
retirement from football, because of the future he desired for himself, his
family and his race, according to the letter. Andscape, formerly The Undefeated,
is a sports and pop culture website owned and operated by ESPN.

“Of course, I don’t think White America is going to remember him for that,
but I truly believe that Black America and people all over the world will
remember his stance on tyranny and injustice,” said Student Min. Muhammad.

“He was one of the first athletes to come from his lofty position into hell
and work with the downtrodden. It just reminds me of what Jesus said to
his disciples, when he talked about those who were in prison and you
administered not unto them. That’s what Jim Brown did, and so his legacy
among just the people in the streets became quite outstanding. He’s a hero
to them. He was a leader to them. He was like a big-time advisor to the streets,
so the streets will remember Jim as a revolutionary hero,” he added.

“I met Jim through Minister (Louis) Farrakhan, in 1989, through the
‘Stop the Killing’ tour,” stated Aqeela Sherrills, a co-founder of Amer-I-can.
“Minister Farrakhan came to town and galvanized thousands of the folks from
the city to come together around all of the killings that was happening in the city,”
said Mr. Sherrills, who said he grew up in the Jordan Downs Housing Projects,
and was a member of Grape Street Crips.

As an activist/organizer trying to stop the killing, he and colleagues took about
30 young Black men to hear Min. Farrakhan speak, said Mr. Sherrills.

“We were all so moved. Fifteen hundred Crips and Bloods showed up that
day at the Sports Arena for that conversation and then Jim opened up his house
as a neutral ground for us to meet and have conversation,” stated Mr. Sherrills.

He told The Final Call that because of the meeting hosted by the Minister and
Mr. Brown, he had an opportunity to connect with them and represent his
neighborhood. Mr. Brown gave him his phone number and invited him to
visit his home any time he needed a break from the neighborhood, shared
Mr. Sherrills.

“Jim was the catalyst, one of the key financiers behind the movement early
on,” Mr. Sherrills continued. “Minister Farrakhan put out the call and Jim
showed up and became more like a mentor and a father to many of us in L.A.,
and then across the country,” he stated.

For Mr. Sherrills the thing that Mr. Brown will be most remembered for in
his life is his mentorship and guidance. “Jim was probably one of the most
brilliant cats that I’ve ever met. I’ve never been in a room with J. B. where
he hadn’t briefed us before we got there so that we could all be on the same
page in terms of the conversation, and then debriefed after every meeting,”
said Mr. Sherrills.

He described Mr. Brown as being far ahead of his time and said that in
the ’60s when the talk was about civil rights, Mr. Brown was focused
on human rights.

Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, left, and Miami Dolphins
running back Ricky Williams chat before a news conference Tuesday,
Sept. 23, 2003, in Miami. Brown and Williams announced that Williams’
foundation, Run Ricky Run, is now donating some of its proceeds to the
Amer-I-Can program, founded by Brown to help quell gang violence and
educate troubled youth. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

“Jim was there for me through all of my formative years and transformations
and I love him forever for the contribution that he’s made to my life, but also
to thousands. I traveled with Jim as his right hand for almost a decade to cities
all across the country and it was just an honor always to be in service to something
that was so much bigger than us and that’s the peace movement. And we see
where things are today as a result of his work and the Minister’s work.”

Mr. Sherrills highlighted an example of the evolving approach to addressing
street peace. He mentioned that under the Biden Administration, community-based
solutions are now acknowledged as complementary strategies alongside the police.
These strategies are seen as vital and worthy of investment to strengthen the
country’s safety infrastructure, said Mr. Sherrills.

“There’s about three or four of us, national thought leaders in the country who
were all trained by Jim, that are sitting at the table,” stated Mr. Sherrills, who
added that in 2021, he ran the White House Community Violence Intervention
Collaborative, a 16-city initiative to do a proof of concept, building the capacity
of community violence intervention as a complimentary strategy to policing in cities.

From there came the 2022 bi-partisan Safer Communities Act, which he
emphasized put $250 million into community violence intervention. “When
we started this work in the late ’80s, early ’90s, Jim financed this work himself,
with support from a few people! And now, we’ve got the federal government
… at the foundation of that is J.B.,” Mr. Sherrills added.

Marcus Bell met Mr. Brown in 1997, through Darren “Bo” Taylor, deceased
former Crip and gang mediator of Unity One gang intervention effort. Twenty-five
years later, Mr. Bell teaches the Ameri-I-Can program in Chicago with Melvyn
Hayward, co-founder with Ansar El Muhammad and Clinton Noble of Venice
2000 gang intervention and prevention.

In this Oct. 12, 1958, file photo, Cleveland Browns fullback Jim Brown runs
against the Chicago Cardinals for a touchdown in the first half of a football
game in Cleveland. Brown scored three touchdowns in Cleveland’s 35-28 win.
Brown led the NFL in rushing eight times and was league MVP three times;
finished with more than 12,000 yards rushing and 106 rushing touchdowns;
and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. And he did all this in only nine seasons before
retiring at age 30 to become an actor. (AP Photo/File)

“He’s a humanitarian. He stopped playing football and lacrosse and Jim Brown
just got into the community, which was on his heart,” said Mr. Bell. “It’s been a
big impact because if it wasn’t for Jim Brown, speaking for myself, a lot of these
communities would have had even more losses than what we had today, because
we took that (Amer-I-Can) curriculum to them. … I can honestly say if it wasn’t
for that curriculum, I’d probably have a life sentence or be dead,” Mr. Bell told
The Final Call.

News of his mentor’s passing literally took him off of his feet, said Mr. Hayward,
who is also chief program officer for Chicago CRED (Create Real Economic Destiny),
an anti-gun violence organization.

“Jim means so much to me and us as a people, and knowing that Jim has been
and was on the front line for over 50 years, representing Black people and our
excellence and what it means to be Black in America and how we give back to
one another and be consistent about our love in our education and our willingness
to atone and reconcile with one another, it really touched my life,” stated Mr.

Ansar El Muhammad reflected on Mr. Brown’s selflessness, care and humor.
Mr. Brown funded their organization at $2,000 a month, according to Ansar
El Muhammad, but one day he took them to meet a friend in Leimert Park.
The late great NBA great Bill Russell exited a shop, and Mr. Brown told them,
“Hey, Bill! These are the guys that you’ve been supporting for a whole year,’”
said Ansar El Muhammad, as he laughed at the fond memory.

Former Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown
presides over a meeting of top African-American athletes who supported
boxer Muhammad Ali’s refusal to fight in Vietnam on June 4, 1967.
Pictured: (front row) Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Lew
Alcindor; (back row) Carl Stokes, Walter Beach, Bobby Mitchell,
Sid Williams, Curtis McClinton, Willie Davis, Jim Shorter, and John
Wooten. (AP Photo/Tony Tomsic)

“I will remember Jim as more than an NFL player,” he said. The larger than life
figure would state that though it was great to be in the NFL and Hall of Fame as
an individual, the work being done through Amer-I-Can and organizing former
gang members and ex-offenders and working with them is more fulfilling than
anything he ever did in the NFL or Hollywood because he saw the transformation
in the lives of human beings who were disregarded as individuals and who otherwise
may never make it back into mainstream society,” added Ansar El Muhammad.

“He would say, ‘Hey! Gentlemen! It’s never too late to obtain a full, meaningful
life!’ That stuck with me,” he added.

According to The Associated Press, Mr. Brown is survived by his wife Monique
and son, Aris; daughter, Morgan, son, Jim Jr.; daughter, Kimberly; son, Kevin;
daughter, Shellee; and daughter, Kim. He was preceded in death by his daughter,
Karen Ward.

From The Final Call Newspaper

 A ‘family affair’ at The Salaam Restaurant

By Anisah Muhammad, Contributing Writer
- May 16, 2023

CHICAGO—OnMay 11, The Salaam Restaurant in Chicago was brimming with good energy, laughter, jazz music, and singing reminiscent of the women who sang smooth soul songs of past eras. Family, friends, and helpers of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan gathered in the joyous atmosphere in commemoration of the Minister’s 90th birth anniversary.

Minister Farrakhan has offered his life to his teacher, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and he has lived his life in service to humanity. Two years into the Nation of Islam, in 1957, he wrote the song “This is the One” and sang it for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s 60th birth anniversary, on October 7, 1957. The song provides an inner look into Minister Farrakhan’s heart then and now. As the song played at The Salaam Restaurant, a reflective look came over Minister Farrakhan’s face.

“They tell me he (the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) cried when he heard that song. It’s so easy when you love to write about what you love and who you love, and I love Elijah,” Minister Farrakhan shared at the conclusion of the song. “A lot of people say stuff, but they don’t back it up. But my word is my bond. I love that man, and I will give my life for him and for the God that taught him and for the people who they came to save,” the Minister expressed. “May Allah bless you all. Thank you so much.”

Minister Farrakhan’s friends, family and helpers sang happy birthday to him and gathered around him for pictures, as he soaked in the moment. The Minister had touched everyone in the room in some way.


“All I can remember back in the day is just him being in love with the people, and the people always came first,” shared Minister Farrakhan’s son, Abnar Farrakhan. “And he made sure that he reminded us as a family about the believers and those who sacrifice for us to have the things that we have. We’re so grateful for the believers, and we’re so grateful to have him in our midst still. It’s a family affair.”

One of his fondest memories of his father is the talent shows that used to be held at The Final Call Administration Building which is located next door to The Salaam. “He would sit there and listen to us sing and do things at the talent show. He was always supportive of the youth and us doing things at the mosque,” Abnar Farrakhan said.

Atlanta resident Rosemary Lee shares grandchildren with Minister Farrakhan and his wife of nearly 70 years, Mother Khadijah Farrakhan.

“I had the pleasure of meeting him and his wife some years ago right after they married, and I can say that I’ve never met any better people, any kinder people and who always had something good to say. I’ve loved them. They accepted me into the family, and they treated me like family,” she shared.

Her daughter, the Minister’s daughter-in-law, Toni Farrakhan, described the Minister as supportive and a role model who set the standard for her children. “Words can’t even express what he means to me,” she said. She commended him for the wisdom and the nuggets he has dropped in helping to shape her life and her role as a wife and mother.

“He’s incredible. I love him, I love him and I love him,” she said. She also cherishes the personal moments and conversations she has had with him. “Those moments are more precious to me than anything,” she added.

Friendships, love and gratitude

Those in attendance at Salaam were treated to a stunning atmosphere of beauty inside the upper and lower floors of the South Side edifice. A delicious buffet-style dinner was served which included: eggplant parmesan, baked salmon, herb-baked chicken, green beans, navy bean soup, rice, garden salad, curried lamb, carrot fluff, and of course bean pie for dessert. Birthday cake also was distributed to guests. People greeted one another, smiled, hugged, laughed, took pictures and enjoyed the fellowship of being in the presence of a divine man who has impacted so many.

The Minister and Father Michael Pfleger, senior pastor at St. Sabina Church on Chicago’s South Side, have cultivated a 30-year relationship of friendship and brotherhood.

“He is my brother and my friend. I see him as a messenger of love and a messenger of truth and as the physical witness of what it means to be free, and to teach us all to be as free, as loving and as truth-seeking as he is,” Father Pfleger expressed.

“The biggest challenge I think for all of us is not just to admire the Minister, but to try to emulate him in our own lives. And I just thank God for keeping him all these years, and we’re here tonight to celebrate his birth anniversary but also his life, his testimony.”

The longtime activist priest cherishes the moments when he would go to Minister Farrakhan’s Michigan farm and the two of them would ride on a golf cart to the far end and just sit and talk.

“Just two brothers sharing their heart, their tears, their laughter and totally free. I never have to worry about holding back from the Minister, nor he with I. And those moments of just brother to brother, not at an event, not something at the mosque, not at St. Sabina, but just to be able to sit down as a brother and just share … and be encouraged and listen to his wisdom,” Father Pfleger shared.

Frank J. Williams, a Chicago housing advocate and realtor, longtime neighbor of the Minister and a friend to the Minister’s family, expressed his love and gratitude.

“We used to have morning walks together. He didn’t know me, and I didn’t know him. And we were dealing with different religions. And I really didn’t know about the Nation. So, he was able to share, as we deal with our morning walks, so that I’d understand a lot better the dynamics of the religion. Because as you know, the press has always attempted to throw a cast upon (him), you understand? But I love him. I love his family,” he stated.

Ina Carter’s father was a follower of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, though he wasn’t a registered Muslim. He would buy and bring home copies of the Muhammad Speaks newspaper. As a young woman in her 20s, Ms. Carter started attending the Nation of Islam’s Saviours’ Day events.

She recognized the Minister as one of the great Black leaders highly respected in the Black community. “There are the few people in the Black community that listen to the rhetoric from the White media that don’t care for Minister Farrakhan. But I tell you, he’s highly—if you mention his name in any circle that you’re in—people just, they respect him highly. I have never heard anyone not respect him,” she said. “It’s been a pleasure just to see him turn 90. I just pray I get there.”

Ms. Carter described how the Minister helped her daughter on a college tour. “I said, what do you give a man that’s 90? What do you give a man that has everything?” she questioned. She decided to gift the Minister a reading of her daughter’s background, as her daughter graduated from college the day after the Minister’s birth anniversary.

“None of us can predict where life would be without him and I would not wish to know,” said Student Minister Abdul Arif Muhammad, the Nation of Islam’s General Counsel and member of the N.O.I. Executive Shura Council.

One of the most touching moments in Student Min. Arif Muhammad’s Islamic life was when the Minister invited his parents to a private dinner in Baltimore, the city where he was born and raised. “That event of meeting with my mom and my dad lifted them to make them feel that they were special and that their life had meaning, because to meet such a great man as the Minister and have him sit with them in a dinner, a private dinner, was a magnificent, magnificent gift to me and to them, and they never forgot it,” he shared.

Student Minister Abdul Waliullah Muhammad of Mosque No. 8 and his wife, Waliyyah Muhammad, traveled from San Diego, California, to be with the Minister on his birth anniversary.

Student Minister Waliullah Muhammad first heard Minister Farrakhan at 20 years old on a college campus in 1982. He credits the Minister with giving him life and purpose. “My mother gave birth to me, but the Minister gave me life; life being to know God and to work to live according to His laws and His statutes,” he said.

He noted how Minister Farrakhan gives life to those in business, politics, on the streets, in the pool room and in the boardroom.

As a little girl, Waliyyah Muhammad would always say she would help Jesus. She found him in the Minister, she explained. “I pray to Allah that He writes me down in history as a helper of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” she expressed.

One of her fondest memories is having Minister Farrakhan over for dinner at her home in San Diego in 2012 and hosting him for five days. Her husband recalled the moment the Minister gave the two of them their holy names, during the late rapper Nipsey Hussle’s funeral service in 2019.

The Biblical Jesus was a giver of names, a role Minister Farrakhan has been fulfilling, in giving Black people back their original names of Arabic. He named Sister Qamar Muhammad after Surah 54 of the Holy Qur’an, Al-Qamar: The Moon.

When he gave her the name, he read a few verses from the Surah, gave her the purpose of the name and spoke on a woman he had met in Libya with the name. She described the moment as very special and one she reflects on whenever she’s going through something.

“I don’t know any aspect of my life where he has not impacted me. He has really shown me how to have life and how to live life just to the utmost and the path that I’m supposed to be on,” she said. “It’s crazy because when stuff happens, he has already given us the examples, the stories, of how to overcome everything there is. Not that there won’t be troubles and issues and trials and tribulations, but to keep our focus on Allah. And he has just given me life.”

Nneka Muhammad expressed the debt of gratitude she owes the Minister for her almost 25 years of marriage to Michael A. Muhammad and for her 21-year-old daughter. She had lost her first child during pregnancy, and there was a time when she questioned if she would be able to have children.

“We have that one daughter because of the Honorable Minister Farrakhan,” she said. “When I became pregnant with my daughter, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, within that week of me finding out, announced that he was going to pray for all of the wombs of the women at the Million Family March, and I was in that number.”

The Minister’s prayer carried her through her pregnancy.

Her husband, Michael A. Muhammad, shook the Minister’s hand the day before he entered the Nation of Islam’s processing class. After exchanging greetings, he said to the Minister, “Thank you for showing me what a free man looks like. I hope to be that way one day.”

“He shook my hand and looked me in my eyes, looked at me doubting myself, and said, ‘Don’t worry, brother. you will,’” Michael Muhammad recalled. “And so, this was prior to even coming into the Nation.

And through the Nation and through my learning the whole process of doing for self, things of that nature, we have become a successful business partner, striving towards that freedom of doing for self. And so his word is bond in every way, shape, or form. I just love him for that, just for giving me the heart, showing me the heart, the spirit, the courage to be free.”

A servant to humanity

While most people expect to receive gifts marking the day they were born, Minister Farrakhan spent his birth anniversary giving to and in the service of others. He sponsored and gifted 1,000 meals to be freely distributed in Chicago on his birth anniversary. The meals were cooked and prepared by the M.G.T. (Muslim Girls’ Training), the Muslim women of the Nation, and distributed to the community by the F.O.I. (Fruit of Islam), the Muslim men.

Michael Muhammad was one of the men who helped in the effort. He described going into a warehouse full of migrants—men, women and children who were in need.

“To see the joy that was in those immigrants receiving the food from the Minister. They were so joyful. They were so peaceful. They were so happy. And it also leveled me and humbled me to say, whatever we think we’re going through, somebody else is worse off,” he shared. “But to reflect on who he (the Minister) is and what he does for all of humanity; that’s big; that’s priceless.”

Memphis-based Nation of Islam Student Minister Demetric Muhammad, who is a member of the N.O.I. Research Group, grew up in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta. He cannot imagine what his life would have been like if his journey did not intersect with Minister Farrakhan’s ministry.

“There was no other leader, movement or any type of Islam that was in my area,” he said, thanking Allah for Minister Farrakhan and those the Minister commissioned to spread his work across America. “My life really begins from that moment until now,” he added.

Ilia Rashad Muhammad, also based in Memphis and a member of the Nation’s research team, described how his life is tied to him listening to and following Minister Farrakhan.

“He is that beacon of light that gives life. So as long as I am connected to him and follow that guidance, that light, it has blessed me with life. I’m indebted to Allah for this beautiful human being,” he shared. “He represents the life, the mercy and the grace of God.

He represents that clock that lets us measure the time that we’re living in. Our lives, our livelihoods and the quality of our life is all tied into how we respond to him.”

The Minister has inspired Saaudiah Muhammad, a licensed clinical social worker, to be more hands-on when helping people. The Minister’s words to her in or around the year 1997 in a meeting with the lieutenants have stuck with her. “He gave me the most beautiful blessing of saying I was beautiful. And I’m like, ‘Awww,’” she recalled. “That will forever be etched in my mind.”

Robert Muhammad, who works in the Nation’s national secretary office in Chicago, stated that the Minister’s direction and guidance have allowed him to maximize his potential as a human being. He also described Minister Farrakhan as a model of what’s needed to resurrect Black people.

“If it weren’t for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, we wouldn’t have any type of model at all to present to the people in a way that would help liberate them and bring them out of mental death that our open enemies have put them in,” he said. “He represents that beacon of light in the world not only for Black people, but for humanity as a whole.”

Dr. Larry Muhammad, former director of Muhammad University of Islam, described Minister Farrakhan as a friend and brother. “I cherish and hold on to those moments and opportunities where I’ve been able to be with him and spend time and learn from him. Have some humorous times, because the Minister is very humorous and always lifting people up,” he said.

Khaleelah Muhammad learned from the Minister what it means to fully submit to the Will of Allah and to sacrifice everything for the overall good of humanity. “I am a justice advocate, and it is because of him that I know what justice is. And it is through him that I have friendship in all walks of life. I am grateful!” she expressed.

Minister Farrakhan had been a good friend to the late Lafayette Gatling Sr., a renowned funeral director on the South Side of Chicago, and his wife Marguerite Gatling. Their daughter, Marquita Gatling, described the Minister as a man of stature, regal, always down to earth and always welcoming.

To sum up the voices of the people, Minister Farrakhan is a 90-year personification of love and service. He has reached into the hearts of the multitudes and has pulled them out from under Satan’s filth. This article offers just a small glimpse into the lives he has touched over 90 years.