Theology and Religious Studies Professor Andre C. Willis on the long, noble and heroic career of the Hon. Minister Louis Farrakhan. This powerful testimony begs the question that if the Minister has for so long a period of time, defended his people, should not his people rise to defend him?
The best of the legacy of Farrakhan is twofold. First, he has demonstrated a deep understanding of and shown an unswerving courage to publicly detail the lived reality of anti-black racism. There is simply no Black person in the world that has — over so many years — been as consistent, as unrestricted, and as forthright in defending the humanity of Black people throughout the world against its attackers. This is partially due to the power of black institutions: Minister Farrakhan does not rely on white financial support. It is also due to a sense of discipline and commitment inscribed in his practice as a man of faith. Demonized by some and ostracized by many, Farrakhan’s story has been one of “staying the course” for racial uplift.
Second, Farrakhan’s captivating speaking style and scriptural knowledge have made him, undoubtedly, one of the great religious orators of our time. His entrancing public speeches, which never lose track of race, are crafted at the intersection of the religious and the political. Farrakhan, in the style of the eighteenth century “Great Awakening” speakers, unapologetically deploys the sacred texts of Christianity and Islam in his public witness. Yet these “religious” speeches are deeply politicized and they rely on different religious traditions. Thus, they stand in a class all by themselves. Further, his visual appeal, stylized voice and phrasing, as well as his effective use of silence are incomparable. When Biblical and Qur’anic scholars begin to attend to the body of his work, this aspect of his legacy will stand even taller. (Willis 2012)