Statement to the Committee of the Concerned Students, Sedalia N.C.
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
Several students and teachers have written to me to get some clarification on the status of the college in Sedalia, N.C. With the knowledge of the community, I sent a request to Sister Zakiyyah Muhammad, who was appointed by the representatives on the Council of Imams to the position of assignment director of Education and convener of Clara Muhammad School principals, asking her to take charge of the situation in Sedalia and make a report to us on her findings there.
It seems that many of the students were alarmed by the request for them to terminate activities. I can understand that, but what they don't know is that Imam Hamidullah, who was head of the project there, operated independently. He has run out of funds and I'm sure he knew there were no other sources for funding. But he didn't make the students aware of the fact that the funds, the resources, were limited, that they would only be able to operate for a few weeks, and then those funds would be depleted. Obviously, he didn't bring that to the attention of the students at Sedalia.
He didn't invite our opinion, or feelings on the timing of inviting students there and setting up the mechanism for operating the college. I feel, and many others feel, that it was bad timing — that he rushed into this — and really there was a lot of groundwork to be done, a lot of planning and work that should have been done. Most of all, we should have been able to secure funds for operating the school for one year before asking students to come to Sedalia.
We didn't have the kind of communication we wanted, the kind of communication between himself and Imams in the community, and between himself and myself. We didn't have the kind of communication we wanted, and they shouldn't blame me for putting them out on a limb. They should understand the situation and just what developed there.
If they understand it, they will see that actually Imam Hamidullah is responsible for the direction of that project down there. He was aware that we didn't have funds to continue to put in there. At the rate they were using funds, if we had half a million dollars we would be out of money in less than a year.
First, there should have been a campaign to run the college for at least one year, then we could work the next year to make sure we have the money to run it for a second year before that money runs out. But that wasn't done.
When I asked Imam Hamidullah to run an ad in Jet (magazine) appealing to people for funds to run the college, he talked with some of his people and came back and told me he didn't feel that the idea was practical - - that it would cost us more than what we would get.
I was convinced that it would be practical, because I know that there are many thousands of Muslims who will never walk into Sedalia, never walk into the masjid here, who appreciate that project just like we do, and once they learn that our project there needs their support, they will donate to it.
I believe we could have raised many thousands of dollars if we had run ads in African-American publications such as Jet and others that reach many, many African-Americans.
I was thinking of a full-page ad. We would have had to pay a few thousand dollars but it would have been more than worth it, in my opinion. In the future we hope to make appeals on television like other people are doing.
You have to understand that a black college is a black college, and there are people who will support a Muslim college of the African-American people.
Another thing I would like to tell them is this — never did I give Imam Hamidullah any reason to believe that we were closing down in Sedalia. If they got that impression, they got it from him and he's responsible for it, not me.