Huntsville faith leaders mobilize before Farrakhan visit

Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, will appear at Alabama A&M University on April 10, invited by the campus’ poetry club and student Democrats.

Farrakhan has a long history of anti-Jewish and anti-white comments, as well as hostility to the gay community. In a speech last month in California, he said Jews have “an agreement with hell and covenant and death” in controlling the U.S. government and media. He also refers to the Jews of today as imposters with no historical ties to the land of Israel, states that Jews controlled the slave trade and drain money from the black community today.

Representatives of Interfaith Mission Service, Temple B’nai Sholom, the Jewish Federation of Huntsville and North Alabama and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Advocacy and Youth Services met with A&M President Andrew Hugine on April 3. They told Hugine that Farrakhan’s visit should be balanced with a forum. Hugine said such a forum, like Farrakhan’s appearance, would have to be sponsored by a student group.

In a statement days before the meeting, Hugine noted that “this administration did not extend an invitation,” the university is not sponsoring or funding the event, and “views which may be expressed during this upcoming event do not reflect or embody the views of Alabama A&M University.”

IMS President Rev. David Freeman said the panel would turn Farrakhan’s appearance into a “teachable moment” and “could identify ways that people are identified in negative, hurtful ways.”

B’nai Sholom Rabbi Elizabeth Bahar said Farrakhan has every right to speak, and the student groups have a right to invite whoever they wish, but it is “unconscionable” for Farrakhan “to be given the honor to speak at Alabama A&M” and “does not create a welcoming and inclusive environment.”

Bahar noted the controversy comes at a difficult time for mobilizing the faith community — she is wrapped up in preparations for Passover, which begins tomorrow night, while area ministers are busy with preparations for Easter.

On March 30, the Alabama Democratic Party issued a statement distancing itself from the talk, and noted that the student Democrats are not affiliated with the national or state Federation of College Democrats.

Bradley Davidson, executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, said “While we agree with A&M President Dr. Andrew Hugine’s stance that students be provided the freedom to open a dialogue with speakers from across the political spectrum, the Alabama Democratic Party has not been involved with any event at Alabama A&M University.”

The Final Call, the NOI newspaper, said supporters are refusing to be “bullied” into cancelling the program, and referred to opponents as “elements bent on interfering in the affairs of Black people.”

Kris Taylor, president of the A&M poetry club, told WHNT-TV that “There is positivity coming from this. I don’t believe (Farrakhan) is going to come here and bash the Jews.”

Wayne Snodgrass, president of the Greater Huntsville Interdenominational Ministerial Association, told The Final Call he plans to attend and refused requests to speak out against Farrakhan. Final Call also reported that some local pastors emailed the A&M administration in support of Farrakhan’s appearance.

The talk is scheduled to be webcast at