Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan spoke to high school students from Macon County and Tuskegee University students this morning about pursuing their dreams, but his speech became tense when he brought up his struggles and criticized the media.
Two student groups invited Minister Louis Farrakhan to visit Tuskegee University. As part of his three-day visit, he addressed Booker T. Washington seniors, university students and community members about the rights and wrongs in our society.
"God will bless you to achieve your desires," Farrakhan says.
In front of a young audience, Farrakhan gave his advice on how to achieve your dreams.
"How much time are you giving to the development of the real you," he says.
And his words made an impression.
"I enjoyed it," says Walter Hariscon, a senior at Booker T. Washington High. "Very inspirational and very motivational."
"He inspired me as a young black male," says audience member Robert Johnson. "He is probably a good role model."
But there were fiery moments when Farrakhan criticized the media.
"Why is this a media attraction! It is because Farrakhan is here!" he says. "They say his ideas. They shouldn't be told to these children."
Leading up to his visit to Tuskegee University, at least one Board of Trustee member and the Southern Poverty Law Center expressed their concerns about Farrakhan saying he spreads a message of hate.
"All whites are blue-eyed devils. That's part one of their foundation of beliefs, and the other part of their antisemitic ideas that they keep spreading is that Jews ran the slave trade," says Heidi Beirich with the SPLC.
Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam are on the SPLC's Hate Group Watch List.
"I want to go to this Southern Poverty Law Center," Farrakhan says. "This is not a hate group like the Klu Klux Klan. Hell if we were riding like the Klan, you would have a lot of respect for us!"
No Board of Trustees members were said to be in the audience Friday morning, and very few faculty members came out. Professor Muhjah Shakir says it's a shame more didn't show up.
"The truth sometimes hurts, but really his message is one of love and unity," she says.
In his closing remarks, Farrakhan gave the youth one last reminder: "Don't forget that you are of, not just from, but of God."
Farrakhan's last speech at Tuskegee University is Friday night from 6 to 9:30. It is open to the public.
Farrakhan has been the national leader of the Nation of Islam since the 1970s. He's known for his speech to the Million Man March in Washington in 1995.