As the Minister Louis Farrakhan recovered from an illness in Chicago, his top representative became the focal point for motivation, information and guidance during the 18th annual Million Man March celebration in Tuskegee, Alabama. “There were powerful forces that mitigated against his activity. Those forces were the bacterial infection,” said Ishmael Muhammad, the national assistant to Min. Farrakhan.
Mr. Muhammad, a rising spiritual star within the organization’s circle and son of the Nation of Islam’s late leader Elijah Muhammad, quickly stepped in to fill the void originally reserved for Min. Farrakhan, by offering financial wisdom to the crowd of 10,000. “Let us be taught how to spend and save by those of us who desire to see us out of poverty and want,” said Muhammad.
His speech passionately challenged the predominately African American audience to become more frugal consumers and to invest in their community. “Time force us to become more prudent in our spending,” said Muhammad. “Unnecessary spending, by trying to keep pace with the rich and wealthy of this country, has done more to put us on the path to be the prodigal son than anything else.”
According to a study by The Nielsen Company, black buying power is expected to hit $1.1 trillion in the U.S. by 2015. But African Americans, who make up 13 percent of the domestic population with 43 million people, are twice as likely to be unemployed as whites and more likely to be in debt. Muhammad calls it a crisis and says change starts with financial wisdom and controlling money that flows through the black community. “Nobody is going to help the black man. The black man is going to have to get up and do something for himself," said Muhammad. "Pull ourselves up by or own pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. Within a short amount of time we will see improvement in our communities.”