Nation of Islam leader may speak at Morgan State University in the fall

April 05, 2014|By Carrie Wells, The Baltimore Sun

Morgan State University is working with a group that intends to bring Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to speak on campus this fall, a university spokesman said Saturday.

Spokesman Clint Coleman said a local Nation of Islam chapter, the Student Government Association and the Collegiate 100 of Morgan State University were organizing the event, planned as a two-day affair with panels and lectures with Farrakhan as the keynote speaker. Coleman said the organizers were originally looking at a date this month, but due to issues with scheduling and venue are now working to set a date in the fall.

The schedule change led to rumors that university officials had canceled the planned event, Coleman said.

"Some members of the community got the impression that we had denied Mr. Farrakhan's organization the opportunity to speak," he said. "That just wasn't the case."

A message seeking comment from the Nation of Islam's headquarters in Chicago was not returned Saturday.

Farrakhan, whose critics have called him anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic, continues to make public appearances across the country and at other college campuses. Farrakhan, 80, spoke at Bowie State University in 2012.

The Nation of Islam's stated goals are empower black people and encourage their independence. Adherents follow a strict moral code and do not smoke or use tobacco. The Nation of Islam teaches that white people are a race of devils created by an evil scientist named Yakub.

Some of Farrakhan's most historically controversial comments were made at Morgan State University in the 1980s. In 1983, he said in a speech on campus that homosexuality among black men was the result of incarceration and a lack of positive male role models. In 1985, he said in a speech at Morgan that Judaism was a "dirty religion."

Coleman said that the organizers wanted to hold the event at Hill Field House, but that the groups decided it would be cheaper to have it at Murphy Fine Arts Center because they would not have to rent chairs or sound equipment. The Murphy Fine Arts Center was booked through the spring but is available in the fall, Coleman said.

cwells@baltsun.com

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