Nation of Islam leader’s speech at U.S. university creates stir
Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan’s speech to hundreds at the University of California Berkeley on Saturday has created controversy for his statements about Jews dominating the slave trade.
Farrakhan opened the African Black Coalition Conference at UC Berkeley on Saturday, to bring together black students and educators around the issues from colleges across the country.
The 78-year-old minister advised students to depend on themselves in finding jobs and learn more about black history. He also discussed a controversial book that alleges Jews dominated the slave trade according to US - KTVU news agency.
He told students that in order to succeed you need to have good relations with Jews because they controls government and media sectors. When Noah Ickowitz, a UC Berkeley African Student UC Senator said “to me, that was just so hateful and horrible”, Farrakhan responded saying “this is not hate, this is actual facts.”
Outside the campus hall, some students passed out petitions expressing their discontent with Minister Farrakhan’s speech and presence on campus. “I believe the (Black Student Union) had every right to bring Farrakhan, but we are hurt by his words,” Ickowitz said to students outside the auditorium.
The minister condemned the opposition and even discouraged dialogue between Jews and blacks. “I personally don’t care if I ever get along if I’ve got to hide the truth to win a friend,” Farrakhan said to the crowd.
UC President Mark Yudof denounced Farrakhan as “provocative” and “divisive” following his speech at UC Berkeley.
“Farrakhan is known for his provocative, divisive statements with a long history of racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic speech,” Yudof said. “It was distressing in the extreme that a student organization invited him to speak on the UC Berkeley campus.”
“But, as I have said before, we cannot, as a society or as a university community, be provoked by hurtful speech to retreat from the cherished value of free speech,” Yudof told US - KTVU news agency.
But members of UC Berkeley’s Black Student Union said the overall message was inspiring. “What I got out of it was how we as black students can take our education and utilize it to build the black community back up,” said Stephan Montouth. “We’re looking at the minister’s statements in terms of how to empower the black community not all of the other controversial things that he may have said in the past.”