4.01.2010

Heroes: The brotherhood of the Fruit of Islam in New Orleans…..my recent experience




Black Men United event in New Orleans on March 21

Some of us say from our lips “I want for my brother what I want for myself”, but it may not necessarily be in our hearts or manifested in our actions.

Well let me share with you an experience I had during my trip to New Orleans, Louisiana on March 20-22. I was flying into town to be a panel moderator at the 7th Annual International Human Rights Film Festival.

Before my departure from Houston on March 20, I received a call from Student Captain Jason Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 46 to let me know that a single FOI by the name of Charles Muhammad offered for me to stay with him in his apartment for the weekend.

Capt. Jason said the brother had a couch and I said “That’s all I need.” I thought to myself, there is nothing like true brotherhood. Let me tell you more….

I then received a call from Student Minister Willie Muhammad who informed me that fiery Student Minister Harold Muhammad was coming in town from Atlanta for the weekend as well so they were hosting a special mosque dinner for him that night. Historically, Min. Harold used to be the head of the mosque in New Orleans and Min. Willie is one of those who came under his tutelage. Min. Willie’s heart of humility and gratitude causes him to always show appreciation for those who paved the way for us. In this case it was Min. Harold, who was also invited to deliver the keynote address at the Sunday Mosque meeting.


Airport and Late Landing

So after these two phone calls, I was eager to get to the Crescent City to attend the dinner and embrace my brothers. Unfortunately, the unforeseen weather conditions caused me to get to the airport late so I missed my first flight, got bumped to a later one and the rain kept that flight delayed.

When I finally landed in the city, I was picked up from the airport by Fatima, who is the cousin of Jamil Joyner, a brother on lockdown involving an unjust case I also came to investigate for The Final Call.

She took me to the mosque….I missed the dinner! And Capt. Jason made sure to let me know of all of the different types of foods I missed! Lol…that was cold.

Then he shared with me some unexpected news. Bro. Charles, the brother I was going to stay with, decided to give me his entire apartment for the weekend while he went to stay with his parents across town.

What? No sir, please tell him he doesn’t have to do that”, I said. But the captain insisted that “this is how we treat our brothers in this city to show our love.’…then Min. Willie asked me to say a few words on Sunday before Min. Harold delivered the keynote. What an honor!

One little thing I noticed was that Min. Willie and Capt. Jason was cleaning up the mosque in preparation for the Sunday meeting and they’re the highest ranking NOI officials in the city. Good example.

We drove over to Bro. Charles’ apartment and his door was wide open because he was doing what seemed to be some cleaning in preparation for my arrival. “Wow” I thought.

I greeted the brother and again told him “You don’t have to do this brother. I am fine with sleeping on the couch.”

Bro. Charles wasn’t trying to hear it, he said “No sir brother—it’s my honor. You can have it as long as you want. You’re my brother. This is what we do.

Capt. Jason smiled and left. Bro. Charles even apologized for not having a chance to go grocery shopping for me and said he only had “water and some fruits.”….I said “that’s all I need. I am good with whatever you have.”




Bro. Charles Muhammad (R) out in the community. Photo by Cedrick Muhammad
He gave me the keys and left to go stay at his parent’s home. See, I knew Bro. Charles a little because he had resided in Houston for a short while before returning to New Orleans. Now I know him as an even greater brother, which is the best title.

Just weeks before this, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan stated that one of the highest forms of respect and honor shown in Islam is for someone to give you their bed to sleep in….and here I was witnessing it firsthand.

Non-stop Sunday

The weekend got even better.




The love of the brotherhood at Muhammad Mosque No. 46-Photo by Bro. Peter
Sunday morning (March 21) I was picked up by Capt. Jason for the mosque meeting. The spirit in how the Believers of the mosque greeted me was very sincere the moment I stepped out of the vehicle. When I went upstairs to the office adjacent to Min. Willie’s office, I immediately went to sit in a folding chair in the corner just to gather my thoughts. Capt. Jason then pointed at the glass desk with a huge chair positioned behind it and said “No sir Bro. Jesse, you can sit over here. This is where all of our guest speakers sit. You’re our brother. Please sit here.”

I thanked him but declined. I stayed in the corner with the small chair. Again, I said to myself “This is true brotherhood.”




Speaking at Muhammad Mosque No. 46 - Photo by Bro. Peter
I was blessed to say a few words to the audience centered around guidance from Minister Farrakhan in the book “Closing the Gap” by scholar Jabril Muhammad. It was in my short talk that I took the opportunity to tell the Believers there they would forever be my heroes because I witnessed their struggles and triumphs post-Katrina. They rebuilt in the face of adversity and haven’t missed a beat in my eyes. That’s the heart of champion. That’s faith in action. That’s love for a mission.




Student Minister Harold Muhammad

Student Minister Willie Muhammad



All photos above by Brother Peter

Then I sat down to hear the thunderous keynote address by Min. Harold on the subject of “The Judgment”. When he concluded, I went to the back to embrace him. It was then that he started giving so many encouraging words to me and about those of the younger generation. I could tell in his tone that he loves to see the young soldiers shine! (Note: You can read more about Min. Harold at http://www.haroldmuhammad.com)

Wait, there is more.

I hopped in the FOI detail that was escorting Min. Willie to a “Stop the Violence” event that was being held at the Craige Cultural Center. He delivered a passionate short talk to the crowd and I could tell he and the brothers in the mosque have built some tight alliances in the community. The people were showing love!! Barbers were cutting hair for free in support of stopping the violence…..Black men came together in one of the most crime-ridden cities in the country. I know you didn’t know, so I had to tell. (smile)









Afterwards the brothers were kind enough to roll with me over to the Zeitgeist Center where I was scheduled to moderate a panel about the state of violence and community response as part of the closing sessions of the PATOIS film festival. It was productive. The FOI even participated in the discussion. (Note: I am going to blog more about these two events in separate posts)

Following that, I was taken out to dinner by Min. Willie and Capt. Jason for some food and a few hours of dialogue. These two brothers are f-u-n-n-y and I admire their teamwork as a dynamic duo in this army.

When I got back to the apartment, I was in for another surprise. Tell me why the place was filled with groceries? Bro. Charles called me to say he just could not let the weekend go by without making sure I had plenty to eat and reiterated “You can have the apartment as long as you need.”

All I could say was “Thank you brother---Allah is going to truly bless you beyond measure.” He also shared with me a new endeavor he has embarked upon and for his kindness I offered to market any and everything he is doing.

Monday: On the grounds investigating

This day was dedicated to further investigating the NOPD cover-ups post-Katrina as well as the unjust case of Jamil Joyner. This time I was picked up by Bro. Vincent X, who is a former co-defendant in the same case. We had talked several times prior to my arrival and I could detect he was a soldier to the core.

I was correct.




Brother Vincent X

Bro. Vincent took me to interview several people who could bear witness to the beautiful character of Jamil and why they know he would not do the thing that he was convicted of: shooting a NOPD officer.

Fatima also came along to film footage as Bro. Vincent took me through the incident at the same Chevron that it occurred at in 2005. I got a lot of information I will be reporting on in an upcoming edition of The Final Call Newspaper. Until then you can read more about Jamil Joyner’s case at http://www.jamiljoyner.com

From there, Bro. Vincent and I went over to the Danziger Bridge, the site where the NOPD shooting cover up took place in 2005. As I went over the bridge I was imagining those corrupted cops murdering two of our people and injuring four others while lying about it to the point of even conspiring to plant false evidence!

I got angry.



Parnell Herbert and Lawrence Martin

We then met up with local activist Parnell Herbert and Lawrence Martin, who directs NOLA.TV, a web-based news station. I interviewed Bro. Parnell about on the ground moves being made by organizations in response to the developments plus background information on other victims at the hands of the NOPD. Mr. Martin filmed the entire interview and it may air soon.




Then it was time for me to head to the airport. Bro. Vincent was gracious enough to drop me off. We greeted one another “As-Salaam Alaikum” and he departed.

Since the New Orleans airport security line was stretched for miles (exaggeration) I had time to reflect on what I had just experienced. I remembered what attracted me to the Nation of Islam the most and it was seeing Black men loving one another, working together, and moving in the community as one solid wall.




That’s the FOI.

Then I thought about when I first joined and it didn’t matter that I only had one grey wool suit that I wore to every meeting while rotating different bowties and shirts. It didn’t matter because I was in a brotherhood that encouraged me to just keep that one suit sharp as a tack, my white shirts crisp and Allah would bless me with a new one soon.




That’s the FOI.

I thought about how I was heavily recruited in college to join fraternities and the masons. Although I respected them I humbly declined because I knew I had already found a brotherhood. A universal one.



That’s the FOI

This trip to New Orleans reminded me of the words written in 1 John “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren”.

Thank you Min. Willie, Capt. Jason, Bro. Charles, Bro. Vincent, Fatima and all of the FOI & MGT of Muhammad Mosque No. 46 in New Orleans.

My heroes.

P.S.--If you're in New Orleans reading this blog, the Mosque is located at 4201 Downman Road....but I promise you that you won't be a "Down man" after you leave there....corny joke but you get the point. (smile)