NAACP keeps Farrakhan on summit guest list

March 01, 1994|By James Bock and Michael A. Fletcher | James Bock and Michael A. Fletcher,Sun Staff Writers

The NAACP's chief executive said yesterday that Louis Farrakhan was still on his guest list for a black leadership summit despite new anti-white remarks by the black separatist leader and another anti-Jewish speech by an aide.

"Invitation to the summit should not be seen as endorsement," said the Rev. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, based in Baltimore. "Our purpose is to get the leadership to the table."

Dr. Chavis would not comment directly on the latest remarks byMinister Farrakhan and Khallid Abdul Muhammad, the aide the Nation of Islam leader demoted Feb. 3 but praised Sunday as a "warrior" after Mr. Muhammad again called Jews "bloodsuckers."

"We are opposed to anti-Semitism, racism and racial discrimination. That's why we were founded 85 years ago," Dr. Chavis said.

But he said he wouldn't be drawn into continual repudiation of TC the Nation of Islam. He said he wanted to personally express his "concerns" to Minister Farrakhan.

Dr. Chavis said Minister Farrakhan would be invited to the NAACP-sponsored summit this spring -- for which no date or place has been set -- because he had support among blacks. That support is evident both in poor neighborhoods and on campuses such as Morgan State University.

The Nation of Islam leader embroiled himself in more controversy Sunday by telling 14,000 supporters in Chicago that God created whites for an evil purpose -- to torment blacks. At the same rally, vendors sold audio tapes of a previously unpublicized speech by Mr. Muhammad in Baltimore on Feb. 19.

Speaking to 400 people in Northwest Baltimore, Mr. Muhammad repeated many remarks of a now-infamous speech he delivered in New Jersey on Nov. 29. In that address, he called Jews "bloodsuckers of the black nation," labeled the pope a "no-good" cracker and urged black South Africans to kill whites.

After the Anti-Defamation League publicized the New Jersey speech, Minister Farrakhan demoted his aide but defended his "truths."

Yet since his demotion, Mr. Muhammad has made a series of speeches on behalf of the Nation, including a scheduled appearance last night at Trenton, N.J., State College.

The effect of the 6-week-old controversy has been to make Mr. Muhammad a "national celebrity," said George N. Buntin Jr., executive director of the Baltimore NAACP.

"Before all this, I never heard of him," Mr. Buntin said. "Now he's a household name. In this [African-American] community, it has back

fired. Support for Louis Farrakhan, Muhammad and the Nation of Islam is rising dramatically."

Mr. Buntin says many blacks dislike the Nation's inflammatory language, but that the anti-Jewish rhetoric has tapped a "strong feeling in the black community that Jews made a lot of money off our poverty."

"When I was a child, most stores in the neighborhood were owned by Jewish people. Today most stores are owned by Asians. There's a lot of frustration about that," he said.

However, Roger Wilkins, a veteran civil rights leader who was the first to denounce the Kean College speech, said Minister Farrakhan's following "isn't any larger than it was five years ago. . . . This is like taking a magnifying glass to a gnat's behind. Like all good demagogues, Farrakhan can raise a crowd and move people. But except for his core following, it doesn't have any practical effect in the real world."

When the Nation of Islam student organization meets at Morgan State University, usually no more than 10 people show up. But that is little indication of Minister Farrakhan's standing on campus.

Morgan students interviewed yesterday stressed the Nation's pro-black stance and brushed off its anti-Jewish ideology.

"In many ways, Louis Farrakhan is the hope for the black community," said Deidra Proctor, a senior English major and the reigning Miss Morgan State University.

Ms. Proctor, who considers herself neither racist nor anti-Semitic, said she likes the Nation's emphasis on self-help and its refusal to let non-black groups curb its rhetoric.

Born Hamilton, a telecommunications major, said Minister Farrakhan was "teaching the black man to have knowledge of himself."

Jamilah Davis, an accounting major, said Minister Farrakhan and his aide's tough words are justified by the condition and history of black people in America.

"Yeah, his rhetoric might be harsh," she said. "But when the scales are far out of whack, you sometimes have to go hard the other way to put them in balance."

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