Minister Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who has long expressed anti-Semitic rhetoric, is increasingly reaching out to members of the New Black Panther Party, perhaps the largest organized anti-Semitic black militant group in America. Farrakhan's outreach to the New Black Panther Party demonstrates that he has not abandoned his hostile attitude toward the Jewish community and that his efforts to portray himself as a mainstream Black leader are a sham.
During his annual Saviours' Day address, Farrakhan announced that Malik Zulu Shabazz, the anti-Semitic National Chairman of the New Black Panther Party, will co-convene the Nation of Islam's 10th Anniversary Million Man March (MMM) in Washington D.C. on October 16, 2005.
The NOI and the New Black Panthers also have been jointly organizing slavery reparations events.
Shabazz has spoken publicly of his being tapped for the role as MMM co-convener. In a speech at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh on February 17, 2005, Shabazz spoke of his role in the march. He also used the appearance as an opportunity to vilify Jews, saying that the Talmud teaches that "black people are cursed" and Jewish rabbis "set the stage for the African holocaust."
Since Farrakhan announced his decision to ask Shabazz to co-convene the MMM, the New Black Panther Party has scheduled organizing events for the march throughout the county, including town hall meetings in Brooklyn, New York, and at Weequahic High School in Newark, New Jersey.
Anti-Semitism by Proxy
By including Shabazz in the upcoming MMM, Farrakhan will be able to tone down his rhetoric while presenting an anti-Jewish message at the event. At the MMM 5th Anniversary event in DC in 2000, which was billed as the Million Family March, Farrakhan substantially toned down his rhetoric while other speakers talked about the "Zionist controlled media" in this country, which supports a "Nazi like State" in Israel.
Regardless of the role Shabazz ultimately plays at the MMM, Farrakhan's outreach to Shabazz already represents a significant development in the relationship between two groups that once competed with each other.
In 1998, Khallid Muhammad, the deceased former leader of the New Black Panther Party, organized the first Million Youth March in Harlem to showcase his emergent group as an alternative to other groups interested in guiding black youth, specifically the Nation of Islam. In fact, the march was scheduled to coincide with the NOI-backed Million Youth Movement, an event that similarly tried to gather black youth in Atlanta.
Muhammad and Farrakhan had been at odds since November 1993, when Muhammad, then a member of the NOI, delivered a notoriously anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, homophobic and racist speech at New Jersey's Kean College.
Farrakhan responded to the controversy by removing Muhammad from the group's leadership, although the NOI leader noted that he faulted only the form, not "the truth," of Muhammad's remarks.
Muhammad never truly regained a place in the NOI leadership and he would later say that although he still considered himself a member of NOI, he was essentially banned from all NOI mosques.
Since Muhammad's death in February 2001, the NOI's relationship with the New Black Panthers began to improve under Shabazz's leadership. Shabazz has appeared with the NOI on several occasions, most notably at reparation events.