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Louis Farrakhan

American Genius Louis Farrakhan

By James Donahue

While most Americans have typecast Islamic people as possible terrorists since 9-11 and the subsequent events now pitting Christians against Moslem in open fields of warfare, we dare to devote space to the amazing genius of Louis Farrakhan. He is a man who has had a powerful impact on not only the Islamic movement but also the struggle for black equality in America.

Not many people know this, but Farrakhan, who was born Louis Eugene Walcott, was a child musical prodigy. He began studying the violin at the age of six and by the time he was 13 was playing with the Boston College Orchestra and the Boston Civic Symphony. When he was 14 he won national competitions and was one of the first black performers to appear on the old Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour.

In the 1950s Walcott recorded several calypso albums as a singer. He was dubbed “the Charmer” on those recordings. His most famous song was about Christine Jorgenson, who made headlines in those days after receiving what was perhaps the world’s first sex change. The title was: “Is She Is, Or Is She Ain’t?”

Walcott was moving up in the music world. But in 1955 while headlining the Calypso Follies in Chicago, a friend, saxophonist Rodney Smith, introduced him to the teachings of the Nation of Islam. After attending the annual Saviors’ Day event and hearing NOI Leader Elijah Muhammad speak, Walcott became a convert. It was after that when he dropped his old “slave” name and emerged as Louis Farrakhan.

Farrakhan’s career as a musician was sadly forgotten after Muhammad ordered all musicians in the Nation of Islam to abandon the music world. It was at this point that Farrakhan’s genius as a public speaker and spiritual leader emerged. Farrakhan quickly rose through the ranks to become a minister of the Boston Mosque. Soon after that he was appointed minister of the powerful Harlem Mosque and served there from 1965 to 1975.

We are all aware of the way Farrakhan’s career moved him into the public spotlight after this. He emerged as the National Representative of the Nation of Islam and an outspoken critic of American society.  He may always be best remembered for successfully calling forth followers for a one-million-man-march in Washington, D. C, in October, 1995. While it was impossible for anyone to get an accurate count, many news reports said that it appeared that the crowd that marched on the capital that day may have been very close to a million.

Farrakhan’s ability as an outstanding orator has an impact on all who hear him. But he also has been known for making controversial statements. He has his enemies and it should not be surprising that his words have been taken out of context by the media. Among his more interesting statements were that the H1N1 flu vaccine was “developed to depopulate the earth,” He also raised some eyebrows when he said Hurricane Katrina devastated the black community of New Orleans because a 25-foot hole was deliberately placed in a key levee, causing it to fail.

Farrakhan once used the phrase “gutter religion” in apparent reference to Judaism. He later said the term was taken out of context and that he was not belittling the Jewish religion.

A report on the CBS show 60 Minutes in 2000 suggested that Farrakhan was in some way linked to the assassination of civil rights leader Malcolm X. Farrakhan publically rejected the story and accused Mike Wallace of editing the material “in such a way to give viewers the impression that Farrakhan had a role in Malcolm’s death.”

In 1985, while in Mexico, Farrakhan said he had a vision of being carried up into a UFO where he heard the voice of Elijah Muhammad, by then deceased.

Because of declining health, Farrakhan has dropped out of the public limelight in recent years, although he makes occasional appearances.

After a 42-year silence, Farrakhan has taken up the violin once more. He made a concert debut in 1993 with the performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor. He has since performed a concerto by Beethoven and may have other appearances planned.