Farrakhan Delivers Saviours' Day Address in Chicago
Posted: March 3, 2008
Approximately 20,000 people attended the Nation of Islam's (NOI) annual Saviours' Day event in Chicago on February 24, 2008. Louis Farrakhan's keynote address, which lasted nearly two hours, did not include blatant anti-Semitic comments that have marked his past speeches.
Farrakhan spent most of his address, titled "The Gods at War – the Future is All About Y.O.U.th: Youth Organized and United to Help," praising Presidential candidate Barack Obama. Farrakhan pointed out that NOI founder, Fard Muhammad, also had a white mother and black father, and described Obama as "a herald of the messiah… like the trumpet that alerts you that something new, something better, is on the way."
Farrakhan did not officially endorse Obama, citing concerns about "the enemy" making him "a litmus test" for "any black person who strives for betterment for elevation in the society." Farrakhan added, "I don't want to say anything that would hurt that brother [Obama]. And I don't want them to use me or the Nation of Islam."
Unlike past speeches featuring hateful statements against Jews, Farrakhan mentioned Jews only briefly, when he told a story about Jewish man refusing to obey the word of Jesus if it meant sharing his wealth with the poor: "Jesus said well then go take all your goods and go sell them to the poor. The man said, Well Jesus I'm glad to meet you. And as some of the young boys says, I'm out of here. Don't trouble me with sacrifice."
Despite indicating in 2006 that he would relinquish his leadership role with the NOI after nearly 30 years due to illness, Farrakhan said that he "spent most of  working on the inside of the Nation," adding that he could no longer do so when "so much work needs to be done on the outside."
Farrakhan was introduced by Ishmael Muhammad, Farrakhan's assistant minister at Mosque Maryam in Chicago, who is among the likely contenders for NOI leadership. After Farrakhan's address, Muhammad stated that Farrakhan had reassumed his leadership duties of the organization and defended Farrakhan's past record of bigotry: "He's not anti-Semitic. He's not a hater. He's not anti-white and not homophobic… He's anti-wrong, anti-injustice and anti-inequities." Muhammad is a son of former NOI leader Elijah Muhammad.
Fontaine Muhammad, Deputy General Manager of the NOI's publication The Final Call, led a prayer at the event. Other speakers included Abel Muhammad, the NOI's Latino student minister, and JoAnn Watson, Detroit City Councilmember who in August 2005 joined Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in presenting Farrakhan with a "Spirit of Love" award.
Farrakhan was also joined on stage by Revered Sun Myung Moon, who has given money to the Louis Farrakhan Prostate Cancer Foundation and whose followers have taken part in several NOI events over the past several years.
Ashahed Muhammad, assistant editor of the NOI's publication The Final Call, spoke to press afterwards regarding the reported $25,000 the organization received in donations over the course of the weekend. "People don't give their money if they don't believe in you and say: Whatever you decide," he said. "Because of [Farrakhan's] vision, he is able to do what we can't do for ourselves. They are making a statement that I am willing to invest in the survival of our nation." Muhammad's anti-Semitic book The Synagogue of Satan, which is heavily promoted by the NOI, was sold during the event.