Let's Lift Our Heads Up: Part 6
Imam Warith Deen Muhammad
With the Name Allah, the Gracious, the Compassionate.
On Feb. 24, 1980, Imam Warith Deen Muhammad, leader of the World Community of Al-Islam in the West, delivered a stirring address on the subject of the African-American "Identity Crisis" in a nationwide, live radio broadcast. Speaking from Masjid Elijah Muhammad in Chicago, where more than 6,000 Muslims gathered for the address, Imam Muhammad urged African-Americans(Bilalians) to "lift our heads up" and put faith in God.
Following the Imam's hour-long broadcast directed to the general public, the members of the WCIW conducted an extended meeting on Community matters via telephonic connections -with scores of masjid communitiesaround the country.
According to the WCIW Council of Imams, this February meeting ends a near 50-year tradition of the Community in conducting a special February observance or convention during the last week in the month.
Following is an abbreviated text of Imam Muhammad's historic address. Continued from the last five weeks:
I've noticed around the masjid here, certain characters — and I know there is an identity conflict; they can't fool me — I've studied the neurosis for some time now and I notice some of them slipping about like slimy snakes. Others are walking very obvious — exhibiting such mannerisms or personality quirks that make your mouth--"What in the world is that?"
You see one standing in the shadows of the building with half of his face shaded by the brim of his hat pretending to read a newspaper. Another one slipping about the premises pretending to have some abnormality, pretending he has some mental disorder, (pretending) he's a secret agent. He's not crazy.
The Sister who comes out in that uniform down there on Madison and State, Randolph and Dearborn, and just snaps around, she wasn't always crazy...tribal or plantation identity crisis.
Dear beloved Brothers and Sisters, we have discussed identity problems, and we promised that we were going to talk about how the Community that was under the name Lost-Found Nation of Islam has contributed.
Let me just say this in summary — even though we did have this neurosis, this identity problem, and we found our new identity in uniform — in formality, in costume — we at least had a degree of independent-mindedness that most of us did not have. That degree of independent-mindedness gave us the environment, the conditions and circumstances needed for pushing us forward to do something for self with our own hands.
A Community of very poor people, a Community of very poorly educated people, grew into thousands and hundreds of thousands under the courageous leadership of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. I say courageous because when we look at his distinct significance, we see it in his courage because he didn't have superior power, he didn't have the academic achievement. He was only from elementary school — and didn't go very far in elementary school.
But what he did have was courage. He had the courage to say I can make it without Harvard, without Yale, without the City Hall, without the federal government; I can make it without the intellectual, I can make it without the professional — he had the courage to say that. He had the courage to get into business and had faith in his own limited knowledge and ability in his courage that he could make it prosperous.
I saw him myself work as a butcher when there was no skilled butcher around, I saw him butcher a whole cow; I'm talking about the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. I saw the Honorable Elijah Muhammad butcher a whole cow, and he never was a butcher, he never slaughtered animals. He got the chart, followed the chart and he butchered a cow —not once, but many times. He put nice, clean, decent cuts of meat on display and built a business.
I saw him serve in the grocery store, I saw him go to the market and order produce, I saw him build a grocery from the bottom. His education didn't go to the fifth grade elementary school; the man had courage, the man had faith in himself and his own individual worth, the man was fired up with a sense of greatness, so he was able to do with his five years of elementary school what many of your so-called professors haven't been able to do for 300 years. These are the facts we need to know and study to see where is man's superiority.
Does man have to wait for the college to come to him and give him his superiority? Does man have to wait for the government leadership to come to him and give him his superiority? No. Man has an inborn, native, natural superiority; he only needs faith in it and once he has faith in it he can accomplish things of great worth for himself.
That's a lesson that we have not just been told, that's a lesson, dear people, that we have experienced! However, in the second half of this talk we are going to deal with the other side of this problem, but I think that's enough for our radio audience today, and for our visitors. That's enough to let them know that there is a new vision on Earth, in America, and in this leadership. That there is a new sense for the problems that we face, there is a new way of interpreting the problems that we face.
There is a doctor on the scene who does more than just say you've got a disease, but he writes the prescription. That's what we want the people to know today, those in the radio audience and those who came to look at us.
At this point, I hope that we will see you at another time.