By Shelley Rossetter and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers
event marked 15 years since the Million Man March was held in
Washington, D.C., which Farrakhan, a polarizing figure whose remarks on
Jews and whites have been considered racist, helped organize.
was a chance for black men to show the world a vastly different picture
from the one portrayed in the media, a Farrakhan assistant said.
Farrakhan reminded the audience, the work is still not done. The same
lessons apply now: atonement, reconciliation and responsibility.
choice of holding the Nation of Islam's convention in the bay area
underscores the organization's growing relationship with the Church of
Scientology, based in Clearwater.
Connected by shared interests
in improving literacy and ending drug abuse, the organizations forged a
bond years ago in which members of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam
were trained to administer Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's study
techniques and drug-treatment programs.
During the four-day
convention, Nation of Islam members had the chance to attend a "study
tech" workshop and buy books from World Literacy Crusade, a tutoring
program that uses the teachings of Hubbard.
relationship became prominent in 2006 when Scientology honored
Farrakhan, who was unable to attend, during its annual Ebony Awakening
awards ceremony at the church's Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater.
March, some Nation of Islam members including Farrakhan toured an
anti-psychiatry museum in Los Angeles run by the Scientology group,
Citizens Commission on Human Rights.
Farrakhan's reaction to the museum showed interest in what he saw.
the minister went through and saw the evolution of psychiatry, and then
he saw how they are using the law, and how they are using almost every
human emotion and making it into a disease, the minister said, 'I pray
to my Allah that he blesses me to destroy all of them because these
people are impacting not just black people but all of humankind,' "
said Tony Muhammad, a Nation of Islam representative.
The visit was reported on the Nation of Islam's website, FinalCall.com.
a taped Aug. 22 sermon also on the website, Farrakhan referred to
Scientologists as "our friends," sprinkled his talk with Scientology
terms and appeared to say he wants Nation of Islam members to study
Earlier that month, the website reported, a Nation
of Islam contingent visited Scientology's Clearwater campus and raved
about its stay at the Fort Harrison Hotel. Group members also said they
received "nerve assists" in which fingers are moved across the front
and back of a person's torso. Scientologists say the procedure gets the
body in communication with the "thetan" or spirit, relaxing muscles and
straightening the spine.
In his speech Sunday, Farrakhan made no direct references to Scientology.
said the media and the white race were some of the causes of the
oppression black people have suffered over the years. That can be
overcome, he said, with knowledge.
Once you free a human being from ignorance, he can no longer be a slave, Farrakhan said.
"Ignorance is the enemy of God," he said.
Shelley Rossetter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3374.