From The Final Call Newspaper

A Champion of Truth and Justice The life and legacy of Archbishop Desmond Tutu

By Brian E. Muhammad, Staff Writer
- December 28, 2021

Desmond Tutu (Photo by Deborah Feingold/Corbis via Getty Images)

Desmond Tutu, the champion for human rights and justice worldwide and stalwart of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa has died. The leader often regarded as the “moral compass” and “voice of integrity” in the country that defeated White minority rule was 90 years old.

The renowned figure lost his battle with prostate cancer which he was diagnosed with in 1997. The official announcement was made by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa in a statement December 26. He lauded Mr. Tutu as a “patriot without equal” and a leader of principle and pragmatism who remained true to his convictions.

Desmond Tutu (Photo by Deborah Feingold/Corbis via Getty Images)

“The passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa,” said Mr. Ramaphosa.

He described Mr. Tutu as a man of extraordinary intellect, integrity, and invincibility against the forces of apartheid. But was also “tender and vulnerable” in his compassion for those who suffered oppression, injustice, and violence under apartheid and worldwide. Mr. Ramaphosa announced that all flags will fly half-mast in South Africa and at its diplomatic missions abroad.

A weeklong National Day of Mourning was declared, and memorials were planned. For five days his former parish, Saint George Anglican Cathedral is tolling its bell at midday for 10 minutes marking Mr. Tutu’s transition from life into death. The public is honoring the Archbishop with flowers and photos outside the gates of the church, his residences in Cape Town and Soweto, and significant sites of his work.

Mr. Tutu’s body will lie in state Jan.1 at Saint George’s and a requiem mass is scheduled the next day. Mr. Tutu’s body will lie in state Dec. 31 at Saint George’s and a requiem mass is scheduled the next day. Mr. Tutu’s ashes will be buried in a mausoleum within the cathedral. Many remember him as an icon, not only for Africa but the world.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam issued a statement of reflection on the legacy of Archbishop Tutu and what his life means.

“Although many milestones in the march toward freedom and justice have been reached, the one that ArchbishopTutu wanted most was the same that Dr. Martin Luther King wanted most, to see a genuine brotherhood of the races in a beloved community. Every day that we live we are witnessing new and older efforts to destroy the good that good men like Archbishop Tutu tried to establish,” said Min. Farrakhan. (See page 20-21 for Min. Farrakhan’s statement in its entirety.)

“He was a giant,” said Emira Woods, associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Ms. Woods said Mr. Tutu represented several legacies in his public service. “One of the many legacies… the divestment movement, to push in his leadership under the anti-apartheid era to kind of follow the money,” she recalled.

“He pushed boycott and divestment as a means of bringing the apartheid regime to an end,” Ms. Woods added. She told The Final Call Mr. Tutu proved his brilliance as a strategist and visionary when he seamlessly pushed the same boycott and divestment strategy in the struggle for environmental justice. In 2014 Mr. Tutu lent the power of his stature to fighting the fossil fuel industry, greed, and unfettered exploitation of natural resources.

Ambassadors of the Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust, Tutu Tygers, are seen in limited edition T-Shirts, designed by Patta, on the eve of celebrating Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 90th in in Cape Town, South Africa, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. Tutu turns 90 on Thursday amid recent racist graffiti on a portrait of the Nobel winner which highlights his continuing relevance of his work for equality. (AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht)

With a long legacy of struggle, Mr. Tutu was first and always an Anglican priest who made no secret of his deep dependence on the discipline of prayer, said the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born Oct. 7, 1931, in Klerksdorp, west of Johannesburg. He became an educator before entering St. Peter’s Theological College in Rosetenville in 1958. He was ordained in 1961 and in 1966 became chaplain at the University of Fort Hare.

He became bishop of Lesotho, chairman of the South African Council of Churches and, in 1985, the first Black Anglican bishop of Johannesburg. In 1986, Tutu was named the first Black archbishop of Cape Town.

The foundation said his faith “burst the confines” of denomination and religion and embraced all who shared his passion for justice and love. Mr. Tutu spent the closing years of his life increasingly devoted to prayer and contemplation, in the Milnerton home he and his wife shared.

U.S. Senator for Illinois Barack Obama, left, talks to former Archbishop Desmond Tutu, right, in Cape Town, South Africa, Monday, Aug. 21, 2006. Obama is on a two week African tour which started in Cape Town. (AP Photo/Obed Zilwa)

Father Michael Pfleger of Saint Sabina Church in Chicago told The Final Call that Archbishop Tutu was a consistent voice for freedom. The Chicago activist saw Mr. Tutu as a clergyman unlike many in religion today that sometimes compromise.

“He showed what the religious voice ought to be. All of us in clergy should ask ourselves the question, ‘am I consistent enough to be a voice of freedom?’” said Father Pfleger.

Mr. Tutu didn’t shy from world issues as vast as in Tibet, China, and persecuted Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. He also denounced the war on Iraq. He gave unwavering condemnation to Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people and likened it to apartheid South Africa.

“I have been to the occupied Palestinian territory,” Mr. Tutu once said. “And I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of apartheid,” he said.

CHICAGO – APRIL 4: Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson (L), Archbishop Desmond Tutu (C) and Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, attend Palm Sunday mass at St. Sabina’s church where Archbishop Tutu was speaking to the congregation April 4, 2004 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Such positions were not taken absent of the myriad of attacks by proponents of Zionism against Mr. Tutu. His name is on a long list of leaders falsely charged with being anti-semitic for just raising the issue of justice.

In a 2002 article Mr. Tutu penned called “Apartheid in the Promised Land,” he pushed back on critics of his principled position. “I am not pro- this people or that. I am pro-justice, pro-freedom. I am anti- injustice, anti-oppression.”

“People are scared in this country [the U.S.], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful—very powerful,” argued Mr. Tutu. “Well, so what? For goodness sake, this is God’s world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists,” he wrote.

A global figure for human rights, Mr. Tutu continued speaking out on a range of ethical and moral issues like illegal arms deals, xenophobia, and HIV/Aids.

As corruption charges and unchanged economic disparity between wealthy elites and an impoverished poor continued in South Africa, Mr. Tutu also became a harsh critic of the ruling African National Congress.
Flowers are placed alongside a photo of Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021. South Africa’s president says Tutu, South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist for racial justice and LGBT rights and the retired Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, has died at the age of 90. (AP Photo)

The world lost a rare change agent who was consistent across the board. “I think it was an unfortunate loss,” said Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of history at the University of Houston.

“Generally speaking, I think historians of various stripes will be kind to Desmond Tutu,” he said.

Mr. Tutu galvanized global support for the anti-apartheid cause. In 1984 he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his activism. By 1994 apartheid came down with the victory of Nelson Mandela in the first democratically held presidential elections of the country,

Mr. Tutu was asked by Mr. Mandela to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, created as a space to uncover the horrors committed during apartheid.

Later along with Mr. Mandela and other former elder statesmen and world leaders, he served in The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working together for peace, justice, and human rights. The group was made up of former presidents and diplomats.

South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu hugs author Maya Angelou as she delivered a tribute to him at the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding Award Ceremony, Friday, Nov. 21, 2008, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

“We are all devastated at the loss of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The Elders would not be who they are today without his passion, commitment and keen moral compass. He inspired me to be a ‘prisoner of hope,’” said Mary Robinson, chair of The Elders and former president of Ireland.

For others, losing such a caliber leader brings reflection and gratitude that one like him lived and contributed on the level he did.

“When someone has the kind of life and length of life that Archbishop Desmond Tutu had … thank the Creator of all things for having allowed his presence,” said Bill Fletcher Jr, past president of TransAfrica Forum.

However, it is important to guard against the misconstruing of Mr. Tutu’s legacy, Mr. Fletcher argued. Anytime progressive and radical leaders pass away, the establishment works to tone down their legacies to make them “safe” and acceptable, said Mr. Fletcher.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, right, reacts with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, left, during the launch of a Walter and Albertina Sisulu exhibition, called, ‘Parenting a Nation’, at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday, March 12, 2008. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

“We saw that with (Martin Luther) King,” he said. After he was assassinated, many people didn’t understand the militancy and radicalism of Dr. King because of a watered-down narrative explaining his significance.

Mr. Fletcher expects the same will be attempted with Mr. Tutu, particularly his internationalism and stance on Palestine. “You can’t ignore Tutu … but what the larger establishment can do is rewrite it and blur out significant features,” he said.

Bishop Desmond Tutu is survived by his wife of 66 years, Leah, and their four children.

Final Call Staff Writer Tariqah Muhammad contributed to this report.

From The Final Call Newspaper

Redemption, reconciliation and potential power: A Los Angeles concert with Kanye West and Drake was much more than a night for music. It was a sign: We can be peaceful and progressive.

By The Final Call
- December 21, 2021

by Naba’a Muhammad and Charlene Muhammad

The Final Call

CHICAGO/LOS ANGELES—When Kanye West and Drake, giants in the hip hop and music industry, came together on stage in Los Angeles, it wasn’t just a cultural moment.

The concert was a sign of how music industry beefs can be squashed and how rich, powerful, talented and popular young artists can come together as an example of reconciliation and for a higher cause.

The “Free Larry Hoover Benefit Concert” at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was hailed by thousands as an incredible performance, music and message.

In this June 27, 2015 file photo, Canadian singer Drake performs on the main stage at Wireless festival in Finsbury Park,

The mega-stars called for the release of Larry Hoover Sr., the 71-year-old legendary leader of the Chicago-based Gangster Disciple street organization which he has worked to change to a movement for Growth and Development. Mr. Hoover Sr. has been incarcerated for more than five decades. Though eligible, a federal judge has denied his release from solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, in the extremely isolated ADX Supermax federal prison in Florence, Colo.

In this Aug. 30, 2015, file photo, Kanye West accepts the video vanguard award at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Photo: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File

“Basically this concert was a beautiful thing to spread awareness about my father and his situation on a global platform. I really didn’t know how we would get to this place where we got to,” Larry Hoover Jr. told The Final Call in an exclusive telephone interview.

“It’s just good to have the community behind this fight. Because without the world being behind this fight, they sweep it under the rug, and we haven’t had a chance to really give our narrative on who my father is and what he has done for his community and the things that he was trying to do,” he said.

“They always portray him in a negative light, and this was just the start of getting awareness out here; getting ourselves together in a position where we can fight, where we can help other people fight for prison reform. It’s just a beautiful thing,” Larry Hoover Jr. continued.

“And also it should lead the way for other artists to see how you can come together and make big things happen instead of being apart from each other and going through beefs and arguments that could lead to people losing their lives and jail time and things of that nature,” said Larry Hoover Jr. “So, it’s just a significant thing showing what can be done and hopefully leads the way for other great things to be done.”

His father was sentenced to multiple life sentences, but many agree with his son and want him released now. They see value in having Mr. Hoover Sr. out on the streets to help stop violence that continues to plague the Black community. Much of the violence today is actually purposely driven by groups, cliques, and gangs in their music.

The violence has played out in the world of hip hop with deadly beefs claiming the lives of artists and fueling conflict.

Iconic artists Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls were entangled in a conflict that would claim both their lives. Tupac Shakur died in Las Vegas in 1996 and Biggie Smalls was killed in Los Angeles months later in 1997.

Among other killings were the Rapper Drakeo the Ruler, who died Dec. 18 in Los Angeles, Young Dolph in Memphis, South Carolina rapper 18veno, New York rapper Pop Smoke and Chicago rappers Edai and FBG Duck. All were painful deaths.

As the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan asked during his closing address at a December virtual Nubian Leadership Circle summit, “Who’s feeding the filth over the radio that makes our young people rap in a foolish way?

“It’s not like the early rappers who rapped with knowledge of self, but today it’s filth, it’s indecency; it is debauchery,” he said. “It is the glorification of niggerism, the glorification of something that we should never call each other, ‘nigger,’ and make it seem like it’s something nice.”

From the early days of hip hop till now, the Minister has been a guide, a loving father figure who has worked to bring peace to the hip hop community. He is known for sharing his great love and wisdom with artists, and industry figures and mediating conflicts.

So Kanye West and Drake, who once had beef, performing together Dec. 9 was a watershed moment of possibility not just for two men but for a powerful, billion dollar, global music industry. As Billboard magazine noted, “It marked the first time Kanye and Drake were on the same stage since 2016.”

The event sold out the 73,000 seat venue, and also streamed live for freeto 93,000 on Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, and Twitch, and showed in select IMAX theaters across the country.

“Both me and Drake have taken shots at each other, and it’s time to put it to rest,” said Kanye, who has legally changed his name to Ye, in a video inviting Drake to join him on stage as a special guest to share their albums Donda (Kanye) and Certified Lover Boy (Drake), live in Los Angeles, with the ultimate purpose being to free Larry Hoover, Sr.

“I believe this event will not only bring awareness to our cause but prove to people everywhere how much more we can accomplish when we lay our pride to the side and come together,” said Kanye.

Gov’t condemnation and longtime gov’t plots

Federal authorities blasted the concert and any talk of releasing Larry Hoover Sr. The government condemnation wasn’t surprising and didn’t move many.

“I met with Ye to pass on the message from my brother Larry Hoover who said he would like to see peace between the two of them,” stated Jas Prince, CEO of the Houston-based Rap-a-Lot Records. He and its founder, J. Prince, discovered Drake. “I’m looking forward to all of us working together in unison to elevate our communities around the world,” read his social media post about his unplanned meeting with Kanye at Houston’s Rothko Chapel in November. Kanye, Drake and the industry executive later met at Drake’s home in Canada.

“It’s bewildering. I think if we put our heads together for five minutes, we could come up with 1,000—maybe more—causes that are more worthy to devote this kind of resources to,” said Ron Safer, the former assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago who led a prosecution team that convicted Larry Hoover.

Mr. Safer criticized the University of Southern California, who owns the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, and Amazon for airing it to the world, the ABC News reported.

Wallace “Gator” Bradley, a longtime friend, confidante of Mr. Hoover Sr., sees an old U.S. plot and strategy still at work. The Chicago-based activist worked hard for the 1990s urban peace and justice movement and peace treaties that spread across the country to stem fratricidal violence. Those who had once been in street organizations worked to increase peace and promote life.

They were largely condemned, generally left unfunded while others copied their model and used it across the country. Those still working to bring peace to the streets often struggle to get and obtain resources and are accused of wrongdoing, despite their good work and reform efforts.

Mr. Bradley is clear the lockdown on Mr. Hoover Sr. is tied to government targeting of Blacks in leadership and potential leaders regardless of where they have influence.

He and others see ongoing, constant surveillance, infiltration and other efforts as determined work in the spirit and mission of the nefarious 1970s-exposed FBI Counter-Intelligence Program designed to neutralize, decimate and destroy Black organizations and leaders to preempt “the rise of a Black Messiah.” Cointelpro was devoted to protecting U.S., national security and maintaining America’s social and political order.

Among its targets yesterday, in the 1960s and 1970s, under FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover were the Nation of Islam, the Black Panther Party, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), civil rights groups and others. Also targeted were American Indian, Chicano and Latino rights groups, progressive Whites, and Communists–essentially anyone who challenged injustice and demanded change.

Performers and entertainers have long been targets of U.S. government surveillance and control going back decades.

Mr. Bradley sees a highly spiritual and practical message in the successful concert. God sent an undeniable zero tolerance message about senseless shootings and killings through the global concert, he said.

“There’s a zero tolerance to the rape and abuse of women and children. There is a zero tolerance to the abuse and robbery of our elders and seniors,” Mr. Bradley added.

The world witnessed a unified blow for peace that didn’t come out of a vacuum but stems directly from Minister Farrakhan’s decades of guidance and warnings to Stop the Killing, the first historic Gang Summit in Kansas City, Mo., in 1993 to the Million Man March in 1995, the activist said.

“This is a spiritual war that everyone has to realize is happening. No one saw that coming and were shocked that it happened. But that was global proportions and the man kept God first coming out his mouth,” he continued.

“A righteous tribute, and that’s not saying that not everybody else’s tribute is not righteous, but a righteous tribute for life is when Drake and Kanye stopped beefing with one another, because they realized other entities were driving their myths about the beef,” argued Mr. Bradley.

“It’s an honor to see two artists of this magnitude put focus on brother Larry Hoover, who could do more good out of prison than in. If the government was serious about bringing crime down, what better person to let out of prison to go back to Chicago to help undo some of the things that has been done in his name,” said Student Minister Abdul Malik Sayyid Muhammad, the Nation of Islam’s Western Region Headquarters Representative at Muhammad Mosque No. 27 in Los Angeles.

Minister Farrakhan wrote to former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger before the 2005 execution of reformed Crips leader Stanley “Tookie” Williams in the face of a worldwide movement to commute his sentence, saying how much of help he could be. “He’s reformed. He’s changed. Do not kill him, the same is true about brother Larry Hoover,” said Abdul Malik Sayyid Muhammad.

“And not only could he help Chicago, but if they let him out and allow him the latitude and the longitude to do his work, my God, not only will he help fix Chicago, but it will be a sound or shot heard around the world, that the world could benefit from what Allah has done for Larry Hoover, who has evolved,” he added.

Chuck Creekmur, founder/CEO, too was pleased by the unification forged with Jas Prince and his father J. Prince, the CEO of Houston’s Rap-A-Lot Records and a long time champion for Larry Hoover.

The hip hop editor would like to see the messages of more artists who are speaking consciousness and who are politicized match up with their causes to galvanize the masses. “For example, there are Free Larry Hoover merchandise, which is done by Balenciaga, and it’s extremely expensive so you know we’re not buying those items,” said Mr. Creekmur.

Mobilizing people and resources

Tickets for the production sold for $50-200. A reported $40 million was raised and some of the beneficiaries included non-profit organizations committed to helping ex-offenders and the incarcerated, including Chicago-based Ex-Cons for Community, Uptown People’s Law Center, and Hustle 2.0.

“There’s a very wide ranging audience because both Kanye and Drake have a very diverse audience, of course, seeing that 85-90 percent of hip hop music sales still come from predominantly Caucasian people,” said Enoch Muhammad, the founder of Hip Hop Detoxx, which uses a creative synthesis of writing, performance, music therapy, hip hop, and pop culture to teach and improve the lives of young people.

“From what I heard at the start of the concert, it’s more than just about Larry Hoover. It’s also really about the incarceration rates of Black and Brown and poor people in general, and just the unfair practices that have gone on for decades,” he said.

“Our people are so ignorant, they’ll ask you ‘Why Larry Hoover,’ but they won’t say a damned thing about the White man who brings the crack and the guns and things into our community,” commented Abdullah Muhammad, Nation of Islam National Prison Reform minister. “You’ve had this man in prison since 1972.

Then you wait all the way ‘til ‘97 and come at him talking about you federally investigated him and he’s making $100 million a year? If he was making that much money, as greedy as the lawyers and things in this system are, they would have taken that money and let him out of there!”

“Where’s the $100 million at? Ain’t none of the disciples that you say are still on the street got none of that money. They’re still struggling and trying to find out how to make an investment to take care of themselves and their family,” said the Chicago-based Muslim minister, whose mission is devoted to serving the incarcerated.

They don’t want us to have ‘redemption’

During a Revolt interview in December, Kanye shared how others, including wife Kim Kardashian, celebrities and artists like Jay Z and Meek Mill are fighting for criminal justice reform in different ways.

“That 13th Amendment needs to completely be eradicated,” Kanye said. It protects modern-day slavery under U.S. law that abolished involuntary servitude, except for those engaged in “illegal behavior.”

“When we shut up and dribble and we rap and we do all this, this thing is still in the Constitution,” said Kanye. “That’s the reason why it’s talks of me and Drake doing the concert to bring light to Hoover,” he said.

Mr. Hoover Sr.’s Growth and Development ideology is to help gang members turn their lives around by creating non-profits, providing jobs, giving back what they’ve taken from and helping to stabilize communities, many noted.

“That’s what they don’t want. They don’t want us to have a positive leader. They want us to not have the redemption,” added Kanye in the pre-concert interview.

Updates about the case can be found by following the Larry Hoover Project on Instagram, said his son, who is recorded thanking Kanye for championing his father’s fight for freedom on the song “Jesus Lord.”

“They came together for a cause bigger than themselves,” said Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad, National Assistant to Minister Farrakhan in Chicago. “We want all of our great organizers that are languishing in prison (freed). That brother has spent nearly 50 years in a federal institution, but he’s looking at a 150 to 200 years sentence in the state of Illinois,” he stated.

“These great men have learned something. Chief Malik or Jeff Ford, Larry Hoover, these are brilliant men. They are like political prisoners,” stated Ishmael Muhammad.

Before their imprisonment, approximately five to six street organizations, so-called gangs, existed in Chicago, but to date there are about 900, he noted, citing Chicago police stats.

“It’s a lot. Disorganized. All of those street organizations started with a righteous cause and got corrupted! But these men have learned, have grown, and have something to offer in the organization of our community and the organization of young men and women. So, we want all of our leaders that are languishing in prison to be free,” said Ishmael Muhammad.

“Kanye and Drake should be commended. That was very great, what they did. And it just shows you what our unity can produce,” he said during his lecture, “Redistribute the Pain—Jesus the Ultimate Revolutionary, Part 2,” delivered Dec. 12 at the Nation of Islam headquarters Mosque Maryam in Chicago.

“We’ve got to unite brothers and sisters. We must unite. That’s the only thing that will solve our problems. And unite behind the program of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” Ishmael Muhammad continued.

(Mustapha J.A. Muhammad contributed to this report.)

From The Final Call Newspaper

‘Our dollars can be a form of our resistance’: How and why we should redirect Black dollars this holiday season

By Michael Z. Muhammad, Contributing Writer
- December 14, 2021

Black Xmas, #BlackoutTuesday, 100 Days of Buying Black, Up With Jesus Down With Santa. These are just a few of the ongoing efforts Blacks around the country are implementing, supporting, and pushing as strategies in the fight for justice, self-preservation, and economic development.

The strategy of “redistributing the pain,” a term coined by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is one Black activists, religious leaders, organizations, and ordinary citizens are utilizing throughout the year with many efforts focused on the biggest shopping and spending time of the year, the Christmas holiday season.

Blacks in America continue to lag in most economic indicators facing gaps in homeownership, wages, education, business ownership, and more. Yet amid these very real and grim realities is that the message of empowerment, development and doing for self is also taking root among Black folks.

“We can’t talk about the many ways we resist oppression while simultaneously supporting it with our spending,” said Dr. Julianne Malveaux. “We can’t go running after corporate dollars to support our events while giving them a pass on the ways they support structural racism. We absolutely must use this holiday as a way to withdraw from our cooperation with predatory capitalism,” observed the noted economist and author.

Black people can “redistribute the pain” by refusing to spend their hard-earned money with corporations and businesses that uphold the U.S. system of oppression and White supremacy while simultaneously building their own economic, political, educational and community strength. After George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis last year corporations quickly issued public statements promising a commitment to racial justice and diversity and denouncing racism. Corporate promises were made, but there is little indication any substantive change has followed in the overall quality of life for the majority of Black people. Police killings, economic and health disparities and the status quo remain. But, the fight continues.

This marks the sixth year of the “Up With Jesus, Down With Santa” campaign introduced by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. During the Minister’s 10.10.15 address marking the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, the Muslim world leader quoted Dr. King stating, “We have to find a way to redistribute the pain.” He talked about going to businesses that benefited from Black dollars, and said, “We have to now withdraw our economic support so that those who give us pain can receive some pain in return.”

Each year the campaign encourages Blacks to not spend money from Black Friday through January 2 unless spending it with Black-owned businesses.

“You’re either going to treat us right, or we’re going to withdraw from you our economic support. …We intend to boycott Christmas but not Jesus. We choose not to spend dollars on Black Friday, Black Saturday, Black Sunday, Black Monday. We are not going to spend our money for the rest of that year with those companies that we have traditionally spent our money on,” said Min. Farrakhan.

In Dallas, Pastor Frederick Hayes and Friendship West Baptist Church introduced its campaign, “100 Days of Buying Black (100DBB)” which started September 23 and runs through December 31 to promote economic justice while supporting Black-owned businesses.

“For five years, we’ve provided an opportunity for Black entrepreneurs to promote and sell their goods and services at West Wall Street. In 2021, we’ve commemorated the 100th year since the Tulsa Race Massacre through events and advocacy. We will close out the year by observing the last one hundred days of this centennial Sankofa moment by promoting 100 Days of Buying Black,” notes the church’s website.

The website also includes links to a “West Wall Street Directory” containing information on local Black businesses and a downloadable “100DBB” spending tracker form for participants to note businesses they patronize and how much money they spend at each one. There is also a “100 Days of Buying Black” Facebook Group where members can post information and photos of Black businesses.

“We are seeking to encourage people across the nation to spend their dollars with Black-owned businesses for 100 days to increase the sales and growth of those businesses. Our goal is to continue the legacy of Black Wall Street by circulating our dollars within the Black community to strengthen our economic base,” notes

Strategic, targeted spending by Black people is critical, Dr. Malveaux told The Final Call as she shared a quote from her recent article entitled, “Consumerism is the Foundation of Predatory Capitalism.”

“I’m a consumer, just like you. I want to shower my friends and family with goodies. These days, I’d rather shower them with experiences and, if I must shop, I am shopping with Black-owned businesses. Our dollars can be a form of our resistance.”

For the 2021 holiday shopping season, Black Lives Matter is once again calling for #BlackXmas, a boycott of White companies to spend with Black companies. Among other recommendations the campaign is urging folks to #BuyBlack, #BuildBlack and #BankBlack. The campaign’s website also suggests donating to Black organizations that serve Black communities.

Over the years social media movements under hashtags such as #BoycottBlackFriday, #BlackOutBlackFriday, #HandsUpDontSpend, and #NotOneDime connected social justice efforts to spending.

Economic boycotts are not new to the Black community, especially in the 20th Century. “At the Christmas season during the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, Martin Luther King Jr. built on the ascetic tradition of previous American boycotts by calling on protesters to refuse to shop at downtown stores and to save their Christmas-shopping money,” writes Dr. Traci Parker in her seminal work “Black Christmas in American Department Stores.”

“In late 1963, after the deaths of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, and four young girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, the Actors and Writers for Justice, an ad hoc organization spearheaded by author James Baldwin, declared that Christmas that year would be a “Black Christmas,” she writes.

Student Minister William Muhammad, of Mosque No. 3 in Milwaukee cited a Muhammad Speaks newspaper report documenting such efforts in the city in the 1960s. The historic publication was published by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Eternal Leader of the Nation of Islam. “The boycott calling for a ‘Beautiful Black Christmas’ was launched against influential White merchants to force improvements to the near-subhuman living conditions Black people endured in 1967 Milwaukee,” said Student Min. Muhammad.

“We have to be vigilant as followers of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan reminding the public Up With Jesus! Let’s remind them of the injustice.”

According to Nielsen, which provides analytical data about the habits of consumers, there was no significant drop-off in Black buying power in 2020 which it estimates was at $1.57 trillion. There was “an overall increase in buying” however the new Nielsen report also found this year has prompted Black consumers to buy Black.

While the Covid-19 pandemic hit Black businesses particularly hard, a joint survey released earlier this year by Groupon and the National Black Chamber of Commerce found nearly 80 percent of Black business owners say their businesses are better off than last year but that nearly three of four Black business owners say investment in Black-owned businesses still trails White-owned businesses.

The wealth coach Deborah Owens takes it to another level. “We have to save ourselves” by marshaling our economic dollars, she told The Final Call.

“Christmas, I think it’s an opportunity to give the gift that keeps on giving. And that is education, a way to expose kids to investing, understanding how to build wealth. It is inherited knowledge, meaning someone has to pass it on to you to acquire it. Formal education does not teach it,” she said.

“I think that the greatest wealth of all, the most valuable asset of all, is the knowledge itself. We have been so focused on seeking acceptance and looking at politics as a way of garnering that acceptance. If you look at other cultures, you will see that a great deal of emphasis is placed on providing that financial and economic insight,” she added.

For Ms. Owens, the “Up with Jesus, Down With Santa” campaign represents and is an opportunity for Black folks to learn to channel buying power and convert it into economic power as a means of spreading real pain against people in power who are against the rise and success of Black people. “This is the point I want to make. The most important asset to acquire is the knowledge of how to build wealth,” added Ms. Owens.

“Whenever Allah’s (God’s) servant makes a call and gives guidance, it goes deep into the hearts and minds of our people. They make adjustments, they make corrections,” observed Student Min. Muhammad, referring to the guidance and wisdom of Min. Farrakhan. He believes Blacks are becoming more conscious about who they’re spending their money with now. “So, instead of spending it in the White community, they’re looking for a Black business,” he said. (Final Call staff contributed to this report.)

From The Final Call Newspaper

Unyoked from a colonial master, Barbados faces the challenges, opportunities of full governance

By Brian E. Muhammad, Staff Writer
- December 7, 2021

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS - NOVEMBER 29: Barbados President-elect, Dame Sandra Mason arrives at the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony at Heroes Square on November 29, 2021 in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Prince of Wales arrived in the country ahead of its transition to a republic within the Commonwealth. This week, it formally removes Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and the current governor-general, Dame Sandra Mason, will be sworn in as president. (Photo by Toby Melville - Pool/Getty Images)

The last vestige of British colonialism has been removed from the Caribbean island of Barbados. The former slave colony which initially gained independence in 1966 unyoked itself as a bastion of British imperialism and chose a full and complete freedom.

Before Caribbean heads of states, officials, England’s Prince Charles, and the Barbadian people, Barbados became the world’s newest republic.

Dame Sandra Mason, 72, was sworn in as its first president after being voted in by Parliament in October. Previously, Ms. Mason was Governor General, the surrogate of Queen Elizabeth II, whom she replaces as head of state.

For many the move to become a republic was long overdue.

“We should’ve gone straight to republic, instead of independence,” said Sam Clarke, former chairman of A Better Life For Our People, a Barbadian Diaspora organization, based in New York.

Mr. Clarke said he didn’t subscribe to “worshipping the queen” and the monarchy system. Europe had a common arrangement with its colonies upon “independence” of holding influence. In the Caribbean, it is seen in the systems of governance, jurisprudence, and education.

Forming a republic has long been debated in Barbados. A 1970s commission concluded the idea lacked public support. In 1998 another commission recommended Barbados become a parliamentary republic. In 2005, legislation was passed to hold a referendum, which never happened. Until now successive governments promised but failed to achieve the goal.

With the election of President Mason coupled with Prime Minister Mia Motely, two women now lead the small nation of 287,025 people. The presidential post is largely ceremonial with limited constitutional powers. The prime minister is the governmental authority.

“We the people must give the Republic of Barbados its spirit and its substance,” said President Mason. “We must shape its future. We are each other’s and our nation’s keepers. We the people are Barbados,” she reassured.

With military grandeur, the Royal Standard flag of the queen that symbolized European domination was lowered. Exactly at midnight Dec. 1 on the 55th independence anniversary, Ms. Mason pledged her allegiance to Barbados, not to Britain and its queen. The flag of a free Barbados was hoisted high. An added caveat was singer and business magnate Rihanna was proclaimed a national hero—an important distinction.

Barbados’ new President Sandra Mason, center right, awards Prince Charles with the Order of Freedom of Barbados during the presidential inauguration ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados on Tuesday Nov. 30, 2021. Barbados stopped pledging allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday as it shed another vestige of its colonial past and became a republic for the first time in history.(AP Photo / David McD Crichlow)

Amidst the regalia of Barbadian cultural expressions, the birth of the Republic of Barbados came nearly 400 years after the British enslaved Africans and ruled the island as an English slavocracy. British territories were so vast, it was boasted that the sun never set on the British Empire. Today Britain and its ideological offspring of White world supremacy and descendants are in decline and a caricature of her former self.

“A proud nation has shed the shackles of being Britain’s first Black slave society, to become the first country in the Caribbean in this twenty-first century to declare that the time has come for full nationhood,” said Sir Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor of The University of the West Indies, in a statement.
Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley, left, and President of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason, right, honour Rihanna as a National Hero, during the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony, at Heroes Square, in Bridgetown, Barbados, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. Barbados has stopped pledging allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II as it shed another vestige of its colonial past and became a republic for the first time in history. Several leaders, dignitaries and artists, including Prince Charles, attended a ceremony that began late Monday and stretched into Tuesday in a popular square where the statue of a well-known British lord was removed last year amid a worldwide push to erase symbols of oppression. (Jeff J Mitchell PA via AP)

“This move is going to have a very important impact on the Caribbean community,” said David Commissiong, Barbados Ambassador to CARICOM regional bloc of nations. Amb. Commissiong expects the “Barbados example” to cause a “domino effect” on eight remaining CARICOM member nations still tied to Britain.

The change is in line with other nations that severed ties with Britain: Mauritius (1992), Dominica (1978), Trinidad and Tobago (1976), and Guyana (1970). Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea are among nations that still regard the queen as their head of state. Barbados will remain part of the Commonwealth, an alliance of 54 former British colonies.

Charles, the Prince of Wales, represented his mother Queen Elizabeth II at the inauguration. He acknowledged the “appalling atrocity of slavery,” which he said, “forever stains our history.”

Prince Charles said the transatlantic slave trade represented the “darkest days of our past,” and the “creation of this republic offers a new beginning.”

However, while the freedom trajectory of Barbados is celebrated and Prince Charles recognizes Britain’s history of bloodshed and subjugation of Black people, some are asking what about reparatory justice.

Barbados is in a key position to push the demand for reparations which is part of its national policy. Barbados also chairs the Prime Ministerial Subcommittee on Reparations at the regional bloc CARICOM. Analysts explained that being free of the British monarchy positions Barbados to eventually hold the royal family to account.

Some attribute the Black Lives Matter protests that engulfed several nations worldwide as an element of the change. But issues have been building up for 50-plus years since Caribbean nations declared independence from Britain, analysts explained. Although there is agreement for the transition to a republic there are serious challenges facing Barbados.

A serious challenge is redistribution of wealth to meet the needs of ordinary Barbadians. Big business has belonged to Whites since the years of slavocracy. Because of this and with pageantry marking the new day, some see it as still symbolic.

“It’s symbol without substance,” commented Abdul Rahman, business owner and Barbados Study Group Coordinator for the Nation of Islam.

“We have a beautiful flag … national anthem but at the end of the day, that independence declaration has not translated to true independence for the people,” he said.

Student Minister Rahman added the economic umbilical cord to Europe has not been severed.

Trevor Prescod, a Barbados member of Parliament, told The Final Call the move will not bring revolutionary change to the country. He sees it as part of a “continuum” of a long struggle since slavery.

Constitutional changes and economic challenges will have to be met, said Mr. Prescod. He expects serious external influences to meddle, like the United States, which has historically opposed self-determination in the Caribbean. Mr. Prescod predicted the United States would impose itself on the affairs of Barbados as she has done in Haiti, Cuba and opposing Grenada’s revolution.

Understanding the pattern, most people who govern Barbados feel gradualism is the best path for development, he said.

From The Final Call Newspaper

‘Trust God because God won’t fail you’ A mother’s faith and the mighty fight for justice for Ahmaud Arbery

By The Final Call
- November 30, 2021

Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones his hugged by a supporter after the jury convicted Travis McMichael in the trial of McMichael, his father, Greg McMichael, and neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga. The three defendants were found guilty Wednesday in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

by Naba’a Muhammad and Brian E. Muhammad

The Final Call @TheFinalCall

There is nothing perhaps as deep and as lasting as a mother’s love, a mother’s pain and a mother’s determination to defend her child even in death. Wanda Cooper-Jones devoted such commitment to a quest for justice for her youngest son. She called her boy “Quez,” short for Marquez—his middle name.

“Today’s a good day,” Ms. Cooper-Jones told The Final Call in an exclusive telephone interview, hours after those responsible for her son’s death were convicted of murder.

Quez is known to the world as Ahmaud Arbery.

Ms. Cooper-Jones fought when there were no signs anyone would be held accountable for her son’s killing. Prosecutors in Glynn County, Ga., where her son died had already refused to file any charges. She found strength and resilience in her faith.

Ahmaud Arbery

“I have my struggles from day to day … I had many, many trials early in my younger life,” Ms. Cooper-Jones shared. “There was nothing I could send to God, that he didn’t fix it for me.”

“And then when Ahmaud was murdered, I prayed and I prayed and I knew God would come through for us, ” the mother of three continued.

Ms. Cooper-Jones admits it took a while to get to this point of a victory. “I never saw this day,” she said. But she clung to faith in God’s timing and something “good” eventually happening.

She still takes it day by day. She has a message for mothers dealing with similar horrific losses. “Keep pushing, don’t give up hope, continue to pray, continue to trust God because God won’t fail you,” said Ms. Cooper-Jones.

She is trying to stay strong for a federal civil case against her son’s killers, Travis McMichael, 35, his father Gregory McMichael, 65, and neighbor William Bryan, 52, who were found guilty of murder and other related charges on Nov. 24. All face mandatory life sentences and separate federal charges, including hate crimes and attempted kidnapping on the streets of Satilla Shores, Ga., on February 23, 2020.

Earlier this year, she filed a civil suit against the McMichaels, Mr. Bryan, several county police officers, former Glynn County Police Chief John Powell, and former district attorneys Jackie Johnson and George Barnhill.

The suit charges the district attorneys and police covered up what happened to her son. It charges the killers “willfully and maliciously conspired to follow, threaten, detain and kill Ahmaud Arbery.”

The lawsuit has not been heard in court yet. The federal trial is scheduled for February 2022.

“We conquered that lynch mob,” said Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud’s father, addressing those gathered outside the Glynn County Courthouse after the verdict.

Many felt jubilation and relief with the guilty verdict rendered by 11 White and one Black juror.

The outcome was never guaranteed with defense attorneys lobbing appeals to race at jurors through complaints of “intimidating” Black ministers in the courtroom, ugly depictions of Ahmaud in defense lawyers’ closing arguments and references to how people in Scintilla Shores, a predominantly White community, looked out for one another and kept one another safe. Ahmaud was described as an intruder whose presence and visit to a house still under construction violated the community.

It was 74 days before any arrests were made, and only after video of the shooting went viral.

With the police slayings of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman in Louisville, Ky., and George Floyd, a Black man murdered by a White cop on a Minneapolis street, protests grew. Ahmaud’s name was added to the list of Black martyrs whose lives were taken by Whites in America.

Lynching in America

“Some people likened the murder of Ahmaud Arbery to a modern-day lynching, but I see it as simply a lynching,” said James Simmons, a human and civil rights attorney. “They saw fit to chase him down—in the old term, coon hunting—and gun him down,” said Atty. Simmons.

Lynching is defined as a killing by three or more people claiming extrajudicial reasons to kill. Ahmaud, a lone, unarmed Black man on a jog, was illegally confronted by armed White men in South Georgia. Historically that is a lethal combination.

Tears streak down the cheek of Ahmaud Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones after the jury convicted Travis McMichael in the Glynn County Courthouse, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

Georgia is stained with White racial terror and a lynching tradition second only to Mississippi in numbers between 1877 and 1950, according to the Equal Justice Institute. “For more than six decades, as Southern Whites used lynching to enforce a post-slavery system of racial dominance, White officials outside the South watched and did little,” an EJI report observed.

There was fear Ahmaud’s killers, who pursued him in pickup trucks and trapped him before Travis McMichael shot him to death with a shotgun, would be protected by the White power structure and legal system. Without the mother’s vigilance, the death video, protests, media coverage and anger nationwide, it’s unlikely that the case would have ever gone to trial.

“This is the beginning of an era of new justice that we can continue to use as a blueprint,” said Porch’se Miller, a national civil rights activist from Atlanta.

“As you know 99 percent of the time it comes back with an unfavorable verdict—justifiable homicide,” said Cephus “Uncle Bobby” X Johnson of the Love Not Blood Campaign. He advocates for families seeking justice for loved ones lost to police or community violence.

Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery, talks with the media outside the Glynn County Courthouse on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, are on trial for murder and other crimes in the February 2020 slaying of her 25-year-old son. (Sean Rayford/Pool Photo via AP)

Though “extremely surprised” and “grateful” about the verdict, he hadn’t had a lot of faith in the jury make up as he sat in the courtroom. He is the uncle of Oscar Grant III who was killed by a California transit cop on New Year’s Day 2009.

“The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said with change, there is two elements, danger, and opportunity,” said Odis Muhammad of the Nation of Islam study group in nearby Brunswick, Ga. “What is happening in America and the world is the grip of White supremacy has been loosened and is falling.”

Things happening in Georgia illustrate an unraveling of White power, he continued. “When their world begins to disintegrate in front of their eyes, desperate moves are necessary,” said Mr. Muhammad. He added that Whites feel, “We gotta do some things to put y’all (Blacks) back in check, we have to make sure that we are the dominant force and that you all respect that.”

“As the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, ‘this man will go down fighting’ with his last breath,” said Odis Muhammad.

National pressure, local change?

“What we’re seeking is real change … with the police department … the justice system locally,” commented Allen Booker, a Glynn County commissioner who knew Ahmaud as a young man working for his father in landscaping.

National attention added pressure for local change, he said.

Ahmaud Arbery’s father Marcus Arbery, center, his hugged by his attorney Benjamin Crump after the jury convicted Travis McMichael in the Glynn County Courthouse, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in Brunswick, Ga. Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, and a neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan were convicted of murder Wednesday in the fatal shooting that became part of a larger national reckoning on racial injustice.(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, Pool)

“I think that transparency is our friend,” said Mr. Booker. “It’s not something happening backroom or underhanded that you’re trying to seek, but real justice,” which ultimately “comes from God,” he added.

The commissioner and others have worked to reform the county justice system. They organized to remove discredited Police Chief Powell. They fought to get rid of former District Attorney Jackie Johnson. She was arrested in August for telling two police officers not to arrest the McMichaels over the killing.

Ms. Johnson was indicted on violating her oath of office, a felony, for “showing favor and affection” to Gregory McMichael and failing “to treat Ahmaud Arbery and his family fairly and with dignity.” Gregory McMichael was a former cop and worked with Ms. Johnson as an investigator for the Glynn County district attorney’s office.

Mr. Booker hopes positive change will come with the appointment of Jacques Battiste, the county’s first Black police chief, and his deputy, Ricky Evans, who is also Black.

Gains attributed to the Arbery case include Georgia repealing a citizen’s arrest law, and a new law barring non-law enforcement from detaining people. Georgia also became the 47th state to enact a hate crime law.

But more needs to be done. “The federal government still has not passed federal anti-lynching legislation, despite over a hundred years of advocacy for it,” noted Atty. Simmons. If the federal government were serious about stopping racist activity it would pass police reform, anti-lynching and voting rights protections, he said.

“That’s three guys … White men. That is not covering the country,” added Atty. Simmons. “There are still people from sea to shining sea that want to engage in this activity.”

History and old hatred?

Atty. Simmons wouldn’t be surprised if lynchings and racial animus increase. Although, there were convictions in Georgia, there was the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot three White men, killing two, during police protests in Kenosha, Wisc., last year. The White right and White terror organizations supported the young White male.

“There is so many Ahmaud Arberys’ in small towns like this all around the United States,” said organizer and activist YoNasDa Lonewolf, who lives in the South.

Local government didn’t care about the case, she noted. It was the movement of the people that kept the spotlight on and led to the trial and the verdict, the activist added. “We cannot flip the supremacy that is happening if we don’t speak up. We cannot be silent anymore,” said Ms. Lonewolf.

There was widespread joy, tempered joy across Black America with the convictions and declarations from some Blacks and Whites on the right that the system worked. Few were declaring a new day in the United States.

“Generations of Black people have seen this time and time again, with the murder of Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, and many others. The actions and events perpetrated by the McMichaels and William Bryan leading up to Ahmaud’s death reflect a growing and deepening rift in America that will be its undoing if not addressed on a systemic level,” warned the NAACP.

“We must fix what is genuinely harming our nation: White supremacy. To address and begin to repair the harm and trauma caused by centuries of racism, violence, and murder, we need stronger federal and state actions to address and eliminate outdated racist policies, like citizens’ arrest.”

Odette Flemming, who lives in the St. Louis area which has its own ugly racial history and where protests and rebellion erupted after the 2014 police killing of unarmed Black teen Mike Brown, was plainspoken. “These guilty verdicts are a direct result of the digital age. If no video footage had ever emerged, Ahmaud Aubrey’s family would never have even seen the inside of a courtroom,” she said.

“There is nothing Black people can do to minimize these attacks since they are unprovoked. Therefore, as long as we are dark skinned people in America, we are potentially at risk of being the victim in an unprovoked attack. That is the American reality that remains hidden and is forgotten every time an innocent life is taken and the White majority culture seeks to justify the death by digging for the imagined past sins of the victim and never the predator,” she said.

Cedric Rashad is a 73-year-old successful businessman. Born in Mississippi, now living in Mazatlán, Mexico, he picked cotton as a little boy, lived through Black and White drinking water fountains and other indignities.

“I’m so disappointed in how people have become so open with their bigotry, this America has not changed much since I was young,” he said. “We have become so polarized as a country and thought we would be accepted, especially when Barack Obama was elected. But that just pulled the scab off a sore that’s been infected for a long time. I see this country moving backwards not forward.”

J.A. Salaam contributed to this report.

From The Final Call Newspaper

Plots, Deceptions and Lies of a Wicked Enemy U.S. government conspiracy further exposed amid exoneration of innocent men wrongly convicted in murder of Malcolm X

By Starla Muhammad, Managing Editor
- November 23, 2021

Malcolm X is shown addressing rally in Harlem, New York on June 29, 1963. (AP Photo)

“… even if it be the weight of a grain of mustard-seed, even though it be in a rock, or in the heaven or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Surely Allah is Knower of subtilities, Aware.”

—Holy Qur’an 31:16

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”—Bible John 8:44 KJV

Lies and liars continue to be exposed and the treachery of the U.S. government’s deadly actions in targeting, infiltrating and attempting to destroy the Nation of Islam (NOI) is once again being brought to light.

Muhammad Aziz a suspect in the slaying of Malcolm X, is escorted by detectives at police headquarters, after his arrest, in New York, Feb. 26, 1965. Aziz, previously known as Norman 3XButler, one of two men convicted in the assassination of Malcolm X, is set to be cleared after more than half a century, with prosecutors now saying authorities withheld evidence in the civil rights leader’s killing, according to a news report Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. (AP Photo, File)

Finally, after 55 years, a New York judge on Nov. 18 exonerated Muhammad Aziz and Kahlil Islam, two of the three men convicted of murdering Malcolm X. Both men had always maintained their innocence and the FBI and New York Police Department knew from the beginning the two were not involved and were nowhere near the Audubon Ballroom that fateful day in1965.

“We are moving today to vacate the convictions and dismiss the indictments of Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam for the assassination of Malcolm X on February 21, 1965. But I want to begin by saying directly to Mr. Aziz and his family, to the family of Mr. Islam, and the family of Malcolm X, that I apologize for what were serious, unacceptable violations of the law and the public trust,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. in front of Chief Administrative Judge Ellen Biben at the New York State Supreme Court.

Khalil Islam, center, is booked as the third suspect in the slaying of Malcolm X, in New York, March 3, 1965. Islam, previously known as Thomas 15X Johnson, one of two men convicted in the assassination of Malcolm X, is set to be cleared after more than half a century, with prosecutors now saying authorities withheld evidence in the civil rights leader’s killing, according to a news report Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. Detective John Keeley is at right. (AP Photo, File)

A 43-page Joint Motion to Vacate Judgements of Conviction and Dismiss Indictment laid out several critical points. A nearly two-year investigation by attorneys for Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam, the Manhattan district attorney’s office and the Innocence Project revealed that prosecutors for the FBI and NYPD withheld key evidence that would have led to the men’s acquittal had it been turned over.

The third man convicted, Thomas Hagan (also known as Talmadge X Hayer and Mujahid Abdul Halim), was arrested at the Audubon that day, confessed to his role in the assassination and later stated during the 1966 trial that Mr. Aziz (known then as Norman 3X Butler) and Mr. Islam (known then as Thomas 15X Johnson) were innocent and not involved.

All three men were sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. Mr. Aziz, now 83, was paroled in 1985. Mr. Islam, who died in 2009 at age 74, was paroled in 1987.
Muhammad Aziz, center, stands outside the courthouse with members of his family after his conviction in the killing of Malcolm X was vacated, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in New York. A Manhattan judge dismissed the convictions of Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam, after prosecutors and the men’s lawyers said a renewed investigation found new evidence that the men were not involved with the killing and determined that authorities withheld some of what they knew. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

“I apologize on behalf of our nation’s law enforcement for this decades-long injustice, which has eroded public faith in institutions that are designed to guarantee the equal protection of the law. We can’t restore what was taken from these men and their families, but by correcting the record, perhaps we can begin to restore that faith,” said District Attorney Vance.

The DA’s inquiry was prompted by the many questions raised in the Netflix documentary series, “Who Killed Malcolm X?” released in 2020 which chronicled the research and investigation of Abdur-Rahman Muhammad about the assassination.

“The recently unearthed evidence of Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam’s innocence that had been hidden by the NYPD and FBI not only invalidates their convictions, it also highlights the many unanswered questions about the government’s complicity in the assassination—a separate and important issue that, itself, demands further inquiry,” said Vanessa Potkin of Innocence Project.

The U.S. government’s records show through its FBI Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) under director J. Edgar Hoover that it sent informants and agents into the ranks of the NOI to foment tension and division among its members. When Malcolm X split from his teacher and benefactor, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, eventually starting Muslim Mosque Incorporated and the Organization of Afro-American Unity, law enforcement infiltration of all three organizations did not cease.

The U.S. government has had the NOI in its crosshairs since the group’s founding in Detroit in 1930 by Master Fard Muhammad, Allah in Person, the Great Mahdi and Teacher of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Both men were arrested, jailed and viewed as a threat for their Teaching of Black independence and self-determination.

Abdul Akbar Muhammad joined the Nation of Islam in New York in 1960 under Minister Malcolm X. That is where he met and worked with Mr. Aziz. He told The Final Call he and “Brother Norman 3X” worked together in the early 1960s. Both were tasked with assisting in training Muslim brothers in the FOI (Fruit of Islam) class. Mr. Aziz used to teach the men martial arts, shared the longtime NOI pioneer.

“I know personally that the brothers were not there at the Audubon Ballroom,” said Akbar Muhammad, who today serves as international representative for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. In a previous conversation he had with Mr. Aziz, Min. Akbar Muhammad said Mr. Aziz told him when law enforcement personnel came to his home days after the assassination,

“they went in his closet and pulled out a coat and told him to put that particular coat on,” he shared. “He didn’t understand that. You know, he was there with the police officers who were arresting them. … The last time we talked, he told me that ‘they wanted me to put their coat on,’ so that they could identify, somebody would identify that coat.”

Evidence points to U.S. gov’t

The exonerations of Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam is another step toward the full exoneration of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Minister Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, said Student Minister Wesley Muhammad. Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam were framed to frame the Nation of Islam and authorities knew Malcolm’s assassins were not from New York but were from New Jersey, declared the researcher, author and lecturer who holds a PhD. in Islamic Studies.

“There was a reason even though the New York Police Department and the FBI knew in early March, not a week after Malcolm X was gunned down at the Audubon Ballroom, it was known that the source of the hit squad, if you will, was not New York but was New Jersey,” explained Student Min. Wesley Muhammad.

Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam were FOI from New York’s Temple No. 7 (as the mosques were called at that time). Confessed gunman Mr. Halim had been a member of Temple No. 25 in Newark however was in “F-Time”, explained Wesley Muhammad.

This means he had been put out of the temple, was not in good standing and was not active or permitted to be part of the Nation’s activities or community.

“There was a reason this government, the prosecutor’s office, the New York Police Department, and the FBI, there was a reason they insisted on making this a Nation of Islam New York operation and so they framed two well-known New York FOI when they knew that the mechanics, if you will—that’s the intelligence community’s name for shooters, in cases like this—the shooters came out of Newark but the actual identity of the shooters linked the operation back to the New York Police Department and the


FBI,” the NOI student minister explained.

Of the three gunmen at the Audubon that day, the shotgun shooter who fired the fatal first shot at Malcolm X was identified years later as William 25X Bradley of Newark. Mr. Halim later pointed the finger at Mr. Bradley (later known as Al-Mustafa Shabazz) as one of the men involved. In 1978, Mr. Halim gave the names of four men who he said were his accomplices, yet officials did not reopen the investigation of the murder. Mr. Halim was released in 2010 and is still living.

In the Netflix documentary, Abdur-Rahman Muhammad’s investigation also came to the same conclusion, that Mr. Bradley was the shotgun shooter. For years, late attorney William Kunstler also worked to reopen the case, arguing that Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam were not guilty.

There was no political will to bring justice to this case, Abdur-Rahman Muhammad told Marc Lamont Hill, host of Black News Tonight airing on the Black News Channel. “It allows us to begin the process to interrogate the government; to find out just what was involved here. Why was there such prosecutorial misconduct and why as we’ve shown in our series was there such a desire to protect the man that they knew to be the shotgun assassin, William X Bradley?” asked Abdur-Rahman Muhammad.

Mr. Bradley died in 2018 and said he was not involved in the assassination. He has been described as an “enforcer” for Temple No. 25 in Newark and was featured heavily in the Netflix special, but Student Min. Wesley Muhammad said one key detail has been omitted.

“William 25X Bradley was a Newark, New Jersey, Muslim, only as a cover. He was an employee of the New York Police Department. He even had an office at the Harlem station, so he was undercover in Newark. So, his role in the assassination was not on behalf of the Newark Mosque No. 25 but was on behalf of the New York Police Department!” declared Student Min.

Wesley Muhammad. Leon 3X Davis, who was also later identified as the gunman with the Lugar, was caught at the scene of the crime but his identity at the time was protected, explained Student Min.

Wesley Muhammad. “There was no reason to protect the identity of a shooter of Malcolm unless you are protecting an asset. Leon 3X Davis, a Newark shooter but a protectee of the New York Police Department. Why was he protected? Well certainly because he was a protected asset. His gun disappeared. William Bradley’s gun disappeared. The refusing to open up the files, release key files, the disappearance of files and the disappearance of the weapons all are part of the cover up, I believe.”

The Newark connection to the assassination had to be “bleached out” because it proved the connection and link to the NYPD and FBI’s involvement, he explained. Eugene Roberts, a Black NYPD intelligence unit agent assigned to infiltrate Malcolm’s OAAU organization and eventually became his head of security, was also at the Audubon that day.

A history of duplicity

In February of this year, a press conference at the Malcolm and Betty Shabazz Center in New York was held outlining a confession by Ray Wood, an undercover NYPD officer and infiltrator of Black organizations, which cast additional light on the government’s hand in the killing of Malcolm X and prompted renewed demands that all files related to the killing of the Black nationalist leader—especially the full FBI files—be made public.

Daughters of Malcolm X and his wife, the late Dr. Betty Shabazz, were present. Mr. Wood said a federal agent directed him to go to the Audubon Ballroom and observe something that would happen. He said he watched as the fatal shooting took place and the FBI and the NYPD were involved. A letter from Mr. Wood, the onetime undercover agent was released, and he shared how he was assigned to infiltrate Black organizations throughout New York City. Mr. Wood died in late 2020 and his memoir, “The Ray Wood Story: Confessions of a Black NYPD Cop on the Assassination of Malcolm X,” was released earlier this year.

Since the early 1990s and beyond, Minister Farrakhan has called for the release of all government files about the death of Malcolm X.

During the exoneration hearing, DA Vance stated his office obtained dozens and dozens of reports, from the FBI and NYPD’s BOSSI unit. “These records include FBI reports of witnesses who failed to identify Mr. Islam and who implicated other suspects. And, significantly, we now have reports revealing that, on orders from Director J. Edgar Hoover himself, the FBI ordered multiple witnesses not to tell police or prosecutors that they were, in fact, FBI informants,” he told the judge.

According to Min. Akbar Muhammad, the objective of BOSSI was to put people inside the NOI who would spy and cause disinformation and confusion within its ranks. “They know that they did all of this, and it was the deathbed confession of one of the men that they were using (Mr. Woods) in terms of accusing the Nation of killing Malcolm. Allah (God) is the best knower. It all comes out now and we will just see how it unfolds.”

Dr. Wesley Muhammad argues the reason the government refuses to open the files into the assassination is because it will clearly show the government’s hand. Telephone records, the weapons used, and other critical evidence has been destroyed or disappeared and files that have been made public are heavily if not completely redacted.

“This is really just another example of how the Black community has been horrendously impacted by COINTELPRO. We’re talking about an effort to prevent the rise of a Black Messiah, the FBI, took outrageous action to arrest and convict and cover-up what they themselves were doing! Afterall, this was a cover-up from the FBI and agents that they had within the Nation of Islam,” said Attorney Nkechi Taifa, a longtime human rights activist.

Demetric Muhammad, author of the book, “But Didn’t You Kill Malcolm?: Myth-Busting The Propaganda Against The Nation of Islam,” stated he had mixed feelings on news of the exoneration. While he is happy for Mr. Aziz and the families of both men that their names have been cleared, there is a clear argument that it was long overdue.

“There’s an old saying that justice delayed is justice denied. So, I hope that what follows from this admission from the Manhattan DA, is that a grand effort be made to help make the families of these two brothers whole … they certainly are well-deserving of monetary compensation for having given many years of their lives up to incarceration and having their families broken apart as a result of that,” said the Memphis-based student minister who is also a member of the NOI Research Group.

An apology is not enough

For journalist Doshon Farad, who was outside the courthouse and caught glimpses of Mr. Aziz as he left the hearing, said this case is just one of many involving Black men and women in prison for crimes they did not commit or who are still locked up when there has been evidence if not to exonerate, to at least grant them a new trial.

There are cases across the country of Black and Brown political prisoners that need to be made known, explained Mr. Farad. “This is another case in my judgement of the criminal, criminal injustice system.”

While the Manhattan district attorney apologized, critics argue it rings hollow. Lives have been destroyed, families needlessly suffered, and pain has been inflicted on innocent parties.

Mr. Islam’s son Shahid Johnson was thankful but also saddened. “The fact that the family suffered, growing up with concerns of fear, of people coming after us … those kind of things you can’t get back,” Mr. Johnson said after the hearing. “Normality was gone when I was 10,” he said. “Right now, this is great, but not so great at the same time,” he added.

Min. Akbar Muhammad said he last spoke with Mr. Aziz about six months ago and that all he was concerned about was one day clearing his name.

“I mean, you can’t just have an exoneration. I mean, this was these people’s lives! Decades taken away. What is the compensation? Where is the reparations that is due? Where is the healing that we need for our communities?” asked Atty. Taifa.

“When will the FBI stand charged for their actions? Not one FBI agent ever served time for counterintelligence activities? Not one. So, we can’t just sit down and say, ‘Okay, folks have been exonerated.’ The FBI needs to be put on trial! It’s a good feeling that finally, ‘justice’ has been done … But it’s not enough,” she continued.

“It’s not enough and until we really start dealing with what the genesis of what all of this was—the illegal actions of a U.S. government through its tentacles, i.e. the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there won’t be any true justice.”

Vindication of the Nation of Islam

While there are those who will still accuse and blame the NOI for the assassination of Malcolm X—even as more evidence is revealed vindicating the 90-year-old movement, its Eternal Leader the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and His National Representative and Chief Student, Minister Farrakhan—those efforts are collapsing on weak ground.

This deliberate lie of NOI involvement has caused pain not just on the families of the men wrongly accused but on the families of Elijah Muhammad, Min. Farrakhan, Malcolm X, as well as the Nation and Black America in general. It was by design, argued Min. Akbar Muhammad.

“All of the young students who were tossed between their love of Minister Farrakhan and their love of Malcolm as the patron saint of liberation struggle, these students were torn. They loved Malcolm, and they love Minister Farrakhan, and the enemy was showing them that Farrakhan and Elijah Muhammad were enemies to our people, and so forth, and they planned all that and worked it for years. As Allah (God) would have it now, it comes to the surface, that we had nothing to do with the death of Malcolm. And that it was all planned and laid out,” said Min. Akbar Muhammad.

Ameen Johnson, left, and Shahid Johnson, sons of Khalil Islam, speak during a press conference outside Manhattan court, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in New York. A Manhattan judge dismissed the convictions of Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam, after prosecutors and the men’s lawyers said a renewed investigation found new evidence that the men were not involved with the killing and determined that authorities withheld some of what they knew. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

“We need to make use of this kind of development to put it within our narrative of our complete innocence. But the Manhattan DA, and mainstream media are using this story to basically say, the Nation of Islam is guilty. We just arrested and imprisoned the wrong members of the Nation of Islam. That’s their narrative,” said Student Min. Demetric Muhammad. However, the popular and official narrative that the NOI killed Malcolm X is unraveling, he explained.

Student Min. Wesley Muhammad, also a member of the NOI Research Group and serves as a National Laborer, agreed. “They framed these well-known New York Muslims, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson at the time, well-known Muslim FOI out of New York and to seal the Nation of Islam killed Malcolm X narrative,” said Student Min. Wesley Muhammad.

“It’s right that we start with an exoneration of those two New York FOI but they were framed not just to do injustice to them. The whole purpose of their framing was to frame the Nation of Islam and in particular the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad for the murder of Malcolm X. So, the next step is a public exoneration of the Nation of Islam and an apology for all the efforts that this government entered into in order to frame the Nation for this crime,” said Student Min. Wesley Muhammad.

“Our narrative, which is not a narrative for propaganda purposes, it is just the truth is that the U.S, government is responsible for the assassination of Malcolm X,” noted Student Min. Demetric Muhammad.

The enemies of the Nation of Islam whip up this false narrative for another reason, observed Student Min. Wesley Muhammad. “They use the murdered Malcolm X against the living man that they fear, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. The government’s posthumous investment in Malcolm after killing Malcolm, they invested in his legacy so heavily, not because of Malcolm X but because of Louis Farrakhan.”

(Final Call staff contributed to this report.)