ATLANTA—“God is in The Bluff,” a long ignored part of a city once called the New Mecca for Blacks, but it’s no spook or spirit, it’s live men, women and even children on a mission to resurrect this neighborhood known for drugs, violence and poverty.
The phrase was coined by Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad, head of the local Nation of Islam mosque and its Southeast Region, who works in tandem with Reverend Timothy McDonald. A fruitful Muslim-Christian relationship is making the community a decent place to live—following a directive from Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan from the movement’s headquarters in Chicago and in major addresses in Detroit and Chicago earlier this year.
Speaking at a special meeting webcast from Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad passionately shared the work of the 10,000 Fearless Men & Women in his city, which is credited with bringing more change in months than in 50 years.
“The thing we have to do is obey the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” said the former Nation of Islam Supreme Captain pushing the rebirth of The Bluff. The Minister called for 10,000 Fearless to restore Black communities last year during and in the run-up to the successful Justice Or Else! 20th anniversary gathering of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C., last October.
Blacks are suffering regardless of their religious affiliation, observed Rev. McDonald, who spoke April 5 at the same special meeting in Chicago.
Min. Farrakhan shared his joy at the work underway in Atlanta and called for it to spread across the country. Brother Sharrieff Muhammad was given a command and found a way to produce the desired results, said Min. Farrakhan.The details about the assignment were not given but the commitment to do the work was there, he continued. You are more equipped to do things than you think, the Minister told Muslim members watching via the internet. Faith is required to do great work and Jesus admonished his disciples to have greater faith, Min. Farrakhan added.
When you are doing something others will come to help—even Caucasians eager to avoid God’s chastisement will assist, but you have to do something, he said.
Don’t be afraid to stand up in my name, Min. Farrakhan continued. Brother Sharrieff Muhammad was not afraid and is having success and God did not come for us to be unsuccessful, he said.
In March over 160 volunteers from 30 organizations worked beautifying The Bluff using paint and other supplies and equipment donated by Home Depot of Southwest Atlanta. The work is based out of the 10,000 Fearless Headquarters of the South, a home purchased in The Bluff. The English Avenue Community, commonly known as “The Bluff,” has the highest crime rate in Georgia.
In 2005, Student Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad established People United For Change Inc., which partners with 10,000 Fearless Men & Women to bring free resources to the community at the headquarters housed at 801 Joseph E. Boone Blvd., in Atlanta.
People United For Change Inc., Home Depot, 10,000 Fearless, Muhammad Mosque No. 15, the Atlanta LOC for Justice or Else! and Sankofa United Church of Christ, under the leadership of Reverend Derrick Rice, united to create “Making Our Community a Decent Place to Live” Day March 18 in The Bluff.
But the movement started by simply following the instructions of Minister Farrakhan: People United for Change and the 10,000 Fearless Men & Women of the South moved into the community together and started to help fix up houses. They started beautifying the neighborhood by painting houses, improving landscaping and even fixing siding on homes. Karriemah Muhammad went to hardware and paint stores asking for donations. A visit to Home Depot in Southwest Atlanta led to store manager Jeff Stallings joining the effort.
Student Minister Sharrieff shared how he told those offering to help that there would be no strings attached to any donation or assistance. They are not used to Black men standing up like men, he said.
As the environment improved, there was a decision to hide dilapidated homes behind a wall with a mural, he recalled. City officials fought the wall but eventually tore down the blighted structures. When city employees asked who gave permission for the wall and the mural, Student Minister said he responded: “God did!” Then he asked city officials: Who gave permission for neighborhood neglect to run rampant?
While providing free food and clothing, it became clear some in need or even homeless were military veterans, said Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad. The group’s Ambassador for Veterans Affairs, Michael Duncan, did intake and discovered vets were having problems getting services, he said. Refusing to take no for an answer, or be given the runaround, led to a meeting with Veterans Administration officials and connections to ease the suffering of those who served this country, said the Nation of Islam student minister. He was joined in the meeting by Mr. Duncan.
In that meeting, Min. Sharrieff Muhammad added, Veterans Administration officials were told flat out that “Farrakhan’s man in Atlanta” was who they were dealing with. It resulted in promises to streamline veterans and promises for a follow-up meeting if the sit down didn’t yield results.
“I worked in this community 32 years ago,” said Mr. Duncan. He often felt alone, opposed by housing officials and felt indirect threats from police. He is a disabled vet, but after Barry Muhammad invited him to join the 10,000 Fearless, he found allies. “Now, it feels good to be in an environment where you are not the only one trying to do the work. I know this is God’s work. I believe that when you allow your hands, your mouth and your strength to be a tool for his purpose, he will lead you, he’ll take over,” he said.
His evaluation of veterans logs their vital needs, branches of the service and their benefits denials. Many were in the VA database but were mistreated, ignored or turned away before Mr. Duncan started literally walking individual veterans through the bureacracy. It was traumatizing for these men and women being rejected after serving their country, he explained.
“At the time that I served it was during the U.S. invasion of Grenada. And if they were sending you there, you could not say you weren’t going. They’d put you in jail. Under their rules during a time of war, they could hang you for treason,” Mr. Duncan shared. “You have men who were subjected to that kind of treatment, who have rights who are entitled. So we are walking people back through this system and we are demanding access on their behalf to get them what they deserve.”
The Bluff restoration effort has included fixing roofs, putting up new fences, picking up trash, landscaping and creating a peace garden. Health screenings, food giveaways, conflict resolution and training to join the 10,000 Fearless are held at the 24-hour center. The headquarters also provides counseling, youth programs, culinary arts and other training. An “Occupy the Corner” initiative involving several groups trains to patrol The Bluff. The training suite is named after a longtime Nation of Islam pioneer, Minister Abdul Rahman Muhammad.
An April health fair, led by the Mosque No. 15 Ministry of Health and Human Services and Alternative Health Practitioners, was held at the 10,000 Fearless headquarters. The focus was health education and alternatives to traditional medicine. Passersby and residents waded through sidewalk tables and displays, had their blood pressure taken and were engaged in conversations about health. Louis Muhammad, Saabirah Muhammad and others are responsible for community outreach.
Lavania Morris, 63, was born and raised in the Bluff. For 15 years, she has needed dentures. “The impact of 10,000 Fearless on me and in the community is a godsend. Let the church say amen,” she exclaimed. “It’s a nice program they have done wonderful work and a miracle for me,” as she proudly, showed off a toothless smile. “Sometimes, I help here with the food and clothing and whatever, and it feels good to work on our community first and make it proud and beautiful. Brother Sharrieff is so loving and kind. Brother Farrakhan taught him well,” she said.
“He (Brother Sharrieff) sent a man to make a mold for my mouth and he made me teeth and they are being given to me at no cost,” she added. “The sisters, Kenetta and Alicia Muhammad, have fitted me with outfits. I have always been dreaming on showing my culture. But the impact the brothers and sisters have had on me and this neighborhood has been so loving, so strong and I thank God.”
Chicago native Haroun Shahid Wakil lives in Atlanta and works with 10,000 Fearless through The Street Groomers, a collective of former so-called gang members working on freedom for U.S. political prisoners and those forced to live in exile. Mr. Wakeel frequents The Bluff headquarters. He assists with community patrols and educates residents about political prisoners. “It’s a bunch of guys that come from the streets—the GDs, the Stones, the Vice Lords—that decided to come together over common issues. Right now we are trying to get Imam Malik and Larry Hoover out, they both are political prisoners. But the work of the 10,000 Fearless, the fixing up and cleaning up is very positive,” he said.
Gerald Rose of the Atlanta-based New Order National Human Rights Organization stopped by for an impromptu meeting with Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad and to lend support for the rebuilding work. “This is my first time over here, but I heard of the efforts toward saving this community. So I physically wanted to come over here and thank Minister Sharrieff and offer my support. I have known him for quite a while,” he recalled. “I come to congratulate him and to meet with him over how we can continue our work together.”
Reginald Ward, a 58-year-old Bluff resident, took a break from distributing food and clothes in front of the 10,000 Fearless headquarters. He lives on the streets and sleeps in nearby woods. When it rains, he rests on the front steps of a nearby church. He sat along a sidewalk, eating a bell pepper and watching people pick through donated clothes. He had just laid out the clothes for display.
“I have stroke on the brain, an enlarged heart, and emphysema. Smoking has destroyed both of my lungs. I have an enlarged prostate and vein damage in my legs. They are in constant pain. The doctors have to perform ultrasound just to get a pulse from my feet,” he told The Final Call.
“But God is my deliverer,” he said. “This has been a destroyed community. I see them working for us and I do what I can to help. I read the Holy Qur’an and the Bible and I find them both saying the same things. Our people need each other. It’s about choice. These people have done a lot” in a few months, he said.
“They are teaching us that God is real and without him, we don’t have anything. And we haven’t had anything for a long time, until the 10,000 has come. So, I spend a lot of time on the corners where the brothers be and I tried to teach them and show them what I know and tell them to help ourselves here. I thank God. He is real,” Mr. Ward said.
Joy Muhammad, 11, is youth ambassador for the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee and goes after young people in The Bluff. “The Joshua Generation is the forefront of the Nation and we are going into the community and will hear and obey the instructions of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. The goal is to go into the community with our modest clothing, and we will talk to the young girls and do community events together,” she said.
The success in The Bluff is an example of what can happen when egos are checked at the door, said Rev. McDonald, pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church and chair of the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee of the Justice Or Else! movement. In 1995, Rev. McDonald served as Atlanta LOC head for the Million Man March.
Future plans call for technology centers and bringing in Black businesses to keep money circulating in the community, he said.
“Islam is a religion of peace and it has been demonized by the likes of Donald Trump and others who play on the xenophobic paranoia of our White brothers and sisters,” said Rev. Anthony Motley, pastor of Lindsey Street Baptist Church for 35 years. “We welcome the Nation of Islam into the English Avenue community. The Nation of Islam has an excellent track record for taking Black males and ministering to them and giving them a sense of hope and discipline and dignity and introducing them to God through the Muslim faith, and we applaud that.”
ATLANTA—An inspiring effort is underway to make “The Bluff,” a neglected Black community, a decent place to live following the instructions of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam in major addresses in Detroit and Chicago earlier this year. That mission was also one of the aims of his call for 10,000 Fearless to restore Black communities in organizing last year and at the successful Justice Or Else! 20th anniversary gathering of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C., last October.
ATLANTA—Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad and Rev. Timothy McDonald were honored by Concerned Black Clergy for their work in the neighborhood known as The Bluff through the work of the 10,000 Fearless.
The Bluff, which sits in the shadow of a new major sports stadium and a short distance from the gleaming structures of the city known as the Black Mecca, suffers from problems of blight, crime and drugs that might be associated with older cities in the North and the Midwest. Its challenges include a reputation and reality of being home to an incredible problem of heroin addiction.
The 10,000 Fearless headquarters of the South is located in The Bluff and represents the first and perhaps most developed effort to create and mobilize a group committed to ending violence and making Black neighborhoods decent places to live. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has called for 10,000 Fearless men and women willing to stand between the guns and the violence that ravage Black communities and to act as on-the-ground agents of change. He made the call the during organizing for the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March and at the Justice Or Else! gathering in Washington, D.C. last October. The event drew an estimated 850,000 to 1.1 million people despite no support from major, national Black civil rights groups and no media support or corporate sponsors.
The small, one story home in The Bluff where the realization of the Minister’s vision originated is a beehive of activity and innovation. From improving and painting the home and those on either side and beautifying the area to conflict resolution, medical screening and free food services to serving as a refuge for those seeking some kind of relief or counsel, the 10,000 Fearless home has begun to ease the pain of a suffering people. There are other activities and partnerships as well—such as Home Depot playing a role in donating supplies and helping to restore the headquarters.
The biggest problem may be the need and services are quickly outgrowing the well-used space in the heart of a community in need of healing and development.
The joint Muslim-Christian effort also illustrates the breadth of cooperation and unity envisioned by the Minister and needed to move Black America forward.
The award, which sits in the 10,000 Fearless headquarters, was the highest Concerned Black Clergy could bestow. It was presented June 17 during the group’s Annual Salute to Black Fathers Awards Dinner at the Atlanta Airport Marriott Hotel. The evening’s theme was “Salute to Black Fathers: Fathers in the Good Fight of Faith” and coincided with Father’s Day celebrations.
Rev. McDonald and others recited Concerned Black Clergy’s history in protecting the Black right to vote, fighting for jobs and standing against those who stand against Black interests. Rev. McDonald is the pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church.
Vice Mayor Joe Carn from College Park, Ga., spoke of how the group made him feel secure as a youngster when the city was wracked by the murders and disappearances of Black boys in the 1980s.
Pastor Derrick Rice noted that 1,600 people are fed a month from the 10,000 Fearless headquarters. He also told The Final Call that this year’s dinner came together quickly which prevented the group from offering an invitation to Min. Farrakhan to speak. But, he added, the hope is this work lays a foundation for doing something significant when the Nation of Islam holds its annual Holy Day of Atonement gathering in Atlanta in October.
Mr. Sharrieff Muhammad, who also serves as the Southern Region student minister for Min. Farrakhan, was described as a brother, a friend who would not back down from anyone.
He accepted the Bishop Cornelius Presidential Award, the highest award the organization gives, on behalf of Min. Farrakhan and the Nation and stressed the need for the Black community to unite to deal with serious problems.
Rev. McDonald said the joint award was proof Muslims and Christians can work together. Rev. McDonald is the chair of the Justice Or Else! Local Organizing Committee and Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad is the co-chair.
Among other awardees were Atty. Mawuli Davis, entrepreneurs Antwon Davis and Eldredge Washington, David Manuel, Chief Greg Porter of Clayton County, Afemo Omilani, Coach Darrell Walker, Rev. Joseph Wheeler and the Rev. Dr. Rudolph Smith.
The awardees were honored for work to improve, serve and protect Black lives whether in the fields of economics, law enforcement, politics, youth development, voting and civil rights, feeding the homeless and social justice or spiritual leadership and guidance.
Other honorees included:
· Community Church of God—Clement James, Man of the Year and Gregory Joubert, Young Man of the Year.
· First Iconium Baptist Church—Charles R. Butts, Man of the Year; Kino A. Lewis, Young Man of the Year; Deacon Edward V. Bonner, Overcoming Man of the Year.
· Mt. Welcome Missionary Baptist Church—Reginald Love, Man of the Year; Cameron Smith, Young Man of the Year; Fletcher Salter, Overcoming Man of the Year.
· Sankofa United Church of Christ—John Moran, Man of the Year; Justin Moxey, Young Man of the Year; Shaka Barrett, Overcoming Man of the Year.
· Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church—Deacon Melvin Sneed, Man of the Year; Olajuwon Gardy, Young Man of the Year.
· Muhammad Mosque No. 15—Louis Muhammad, Man of the Year; Rashad Muhammad, Young Man of the Year; Barry Muhammad, Overcoming Man of the Year.
All of the awards for the Man of the Year, Young Man of the Year and Overcoming Man of the Year were presented by Black women. Actress and motivational speaker Nevaine Rhodes was the mistress of ceremonies. Judge Penny Brown Reynolds delivered the keynote address. She urged the honorees and the Black community to continue to stand against assaults—whether from outside and divisive political figures or other foes. “Men and fathers it is time to stand up,” said the legal expert, social justice advocate and media personality.
America is already great because Black people built the country and made it great, she said, in an oblique reference to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s charged rhetoric.
Make America great again are code words for turning back the clock on Black progress, she said. When evil is not opposed it grows, she warned the audience, calling for Black America to be active and vigilant on its own behalf. But like the Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace, in the Bible, we will not be burnt up because God is with us, she said.
ATLANTA—The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said, “Ten-thousand fearless, welltrained men and women are needed to go into Black neighborhoods and stand between Black people aiming guns at other Black people. We’ve got to stop the killing, we can’t talk about it; we’ve got to do it.”
On October 10, 2015, Minister Farrakhan called for the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March themed, Justice Or Else! The March was held on the National Mall in Washington D.C. and brought an estimated 800,000 to one million people crossing various racial, gender and ethnic lines in support of universal justice for all people. During this monumental gathering Min. Farrakhan called for 10,000 fearless men and women to go into our communities and stop the violence, create peace and help transform lives.
Some may have wondered, what’s next?
In Atlanta, under the leadership of Student Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad, Southern Regional Representative of Min. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam and Reverend Timothy McDonald, pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church, partnered as Chair and Co-Chair of the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of the Justice Or Else movement. In 1995, Rev. McDonald served as Atlanta LOC head and continued 20 years later for the 10.10.15 march. After the gathering Rev. McDonald and Student Minister Sharrieff followed the instructions of Min. Farrakhan and established the 10,000 Fearless Men & Women Headquarters of the South.
The headquarters is located at 801 Joseph E. Boone Blvd. In Atlanta, Georgia, 30314. Its mission as guided by the words of Minister Farrakhan in a call to action is: “What the Black community needs is true faith in God, not guns, and men who love God! When you are unafraid of man and you love God in man, you can go in the hood like we do and stand in the gap between the guns. That’s what the 10,000 fearless men and women can do in our community.” The Atlanta LOC, under the leadership of Student Minister Sharrieff and Rev. McDonald, moved quickly to answer the call.
The 10,000 Fearless Headquarters of the South is located in the highest crime ridden community in Georgia known as ‘The Bluff ’. On the front of the house where the headquarters is located a posted sign reads, “God Is In The Bluff ”, a phrase coined by the 10,000 Fearless Men & Women Headquarters of the South. Many people walk by the house and stop to read the sign.
The headquarters is a free 24- hour center founded in the spirit of love and unity to provide resources and training that empowers families spiritually, physically and economically. It promotes peace and with the ultimate goal to transform communities. The headquarters offers resources such as community patrol, counseling, a food pantry, conflict resolution, youth programs, culinary arts and other training programs.
Maynard Eaton, National Communication Director of SCLC, stated, “This sort of community policing is not new to Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad. Eleven years ago as Supreme Captain of the Nation of Islam’s security force known as the Fruit of Islam, Sharrieff Muhammad shut down the notorious drug trade in a community fiercely controlled by Rayful Edmonds, once known as Washington, D.C.’s ‘drug tycoon.’”
When asked if he thought hardened criminals, drug dealers and gang members in ‘The Bluff ’ would listen and curtail their activities. “You think those same gang leaders don’t listen to the Honorable Louis Farrakhan? They went all the way to Washington, D.C. to listen to Minister Farrakhan at the Justice Or Else rally. And, when he came here to the city they came out and packed the church with so-called gang bangers and rappers to listen to the Honorable Louis Farrakhan. He is the real spiritual leader of the people; they want to hear an uncompromising voice, an unafraid voice,” said Student Minister Sharrieff .
“They are getting ready to see something happen in The Bluff that has never happened before,” he added.
So far, the 10,000 Fearless Men & Women Headquarters of the South have hit the ground strong with a weekly food pantry, feeding over 200 people per week. The ‘Occupy the Corner’ initiative a collaborative effort involving several groups to form a community patrol unit is continuing with the 10,000 Fearless Training Class hosted every Wednesday at 6 p.m. The training suite is named after longtime Nation of Islam pioneer, Minister Abdul Rahman Muhammad. There is also a conflict resolution center that has been used to resolve beefs and other issues in the community. Local residents that battled personal issues have come to the headquarters and have received help and support from personnel.
The headquarters has also started painting houses in close proximity to its building as an example of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad words, “Make your own neighborhood a decent place to live.” In doing so, residents have come by just to assist and even give donations. Recently a bus was donated to the headquarters to help in efforts of reaching the people in the community.
The word is traveling fast and the excitement is growing. Dozens are joining the training sessions. Local churches and organizations have started to come by the headquarters and join in the efforts in response to letters sent out by Student Minister Sharrieff to all churches in the surrounding area asking them to unite, including Reverend Anthony Motley, pastor of Lindsey Street Baptist Church for 35 years.
“Islam is a religion of peace and it has been demonized by the likes of Donald Trump and others who play on the xenophobic paranoia of our White brothers and sisters,” said Rev. Motley. “We welcome the Nation of Islam into the English Avenue community. The Nation of Islam has an excellent track record for taking Black males and ministering to them and giving them a sense of hope and discipline and dignity and introducing them to God through the Muslim faith, and we applaud that,” he added.
The 10,000 Fearless Men & Women Headquarters of the South is just the continuation of a great movement that will work to help improve our local communities in the spirit of love and unity. We must learn to do as Min. Farrakhan asked which is, “We must love our people more than they hate themselves.”