Farrakhan expected for leadership summit here June 12-14

June 07, 1994|By James Bock | James Bock,Sun Staff Writer

Black separatist Louis Farrakhan, civil rights leader Jesse L. Jackson and Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Kweisi Mfume are expected to attend an NAACP-sponsored black leadership summit that begins Sunday in Baltimore.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which is based in Baltimore, has yet to release a list of the 70 to 100 participants in the 2 1/2 -day conference, which is designed to promote black unity.

But aides to Mr. Jackson, head of the National Rainbow Coalition, and Representative Mfume, a West Baltimore Democrat, confirmed that the leaders would attend some of the sessions.

Minister Farrakhan's Nation of Islam has not announced that he would attend, but the Wednesday edition of the Final Call, the black nationalist group's newspaper, hinted strongly that the controversial leader would come to Baltimore.

In a column that defends the Rev. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., the NAACP's chief executive, for reaching out to Minister Farrakhan, James Muhammad, the newspaper's editor, wrote:

"In America, blacks want to solve their problems by bringing the family together, airing out our differences, and setting our own agenda. We'll begin this process on June 12-14. Whoever has a problem with that is not a friend of black people."

But the same column criticizes what Mr. Muhammad calls "the incredible control whites, particularly Jews, have had over the NAACP and other black groups. . . ."

While praising the NAACP's overtures to black nationalists under Dr. Chavis' leadership, the Nation of Islam has continued to scorn mainstream civil rights groups' ties to whites.

The Nation of Islam teaches that whites are "devils" created 6,600 years ago by a mad black scientist. Leaders of the black separatist group have repeatedly made anti-Jewish remarks.

Jewish groups have scheduled two events to protest Minister Farrakhan's expected presence.

Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, a progressive Jewish monthly, will lead a protest outside NAACP headquarters at 2 p.m. Sunday. He contends that by dealing with Minister Farrakhan, the NAACP tends to legitimize his message.

People Against Hate, a Baltimore group, is sponsoring a talk by Rabbi Avi Weiss, president of the New York-based Coalition for Jewish Concerns, on "Hatred and the Nation of Islam" at 8 p.m. Sunday at Ner Tamid congregation, 6214 Pimlico Road.

Larry Cohen, a leader of the group, said: "We're disappointed they invited, in our opinion, a racist and anti-Semite. . . . When he preaches hatred, you're giving him credence when you invite him as a peer."

If Minister Farrakhan comes to Baltimore, he may join Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke for breakfast. The mayor is scheduled to hold a Monday breakfast at the World Trade Center for all participants in the National Summit of African-American Leaders.

"This is an effort on the part of the mayor to support the NAACP because their national headquarters are here in Baltimore," said Lee Tawney, an assistant to Mr. Schmoke. He said the breakfast would be open to all summit participants.

In a March speech in Baltimore, the Nation of Islam's top spokesman in Washington, Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad, attacked Mr. Schmoke for having advocated the decriminalization of drugs. He said the mayor "needs to be attacked and either reformed or run out of town."

A Farrakhan appearance would heighten security concerns, particularly after the May 29 attempt on the life of Khallid Abdul Muhammad, Minister Farrakhan's former national spokesman. Mr. Muhammad was shot in the legs during an appearance in Riverside, Calif. Police have charged a former Nation of Islam member with trying to kill him.

"I know Farrakhan does carry his own security force with him, but I'm sure that once the contingent comes to Baltimore we'll make arrangements to ensure the safety of all participants in the conference," said Officer Robert Weinhold, a Baltimore police spokesman.

The summit will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday with a session at NAACP headquarters in Northwest Baltimore's Seton Business Park, according to a schedule released yesterday.

The schedule includes a mass meeting at 7 p.m. Sunday at Bethel A.M.E. Church in West Baltimore; the Schmoke breakfast; closed plenary sessions Monday and Tuesday at NAACP headquarters; a "town hall meeting" Monday evening at Dunbar High School in East Baltimore; and a final public session Tuesday afternoon at NAACP headquarters, 4805 Mount Hope Drive.

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