Governor Rod Blagojevich issued a proclamation last month declaring February 12th to be “Coalition for the Rembrance of Elijah Muhammad Day.” (See update below. It turns out that this is the third such proclamation issued by the governor.)
Elijah Muhammad was the leader of the Nation of Islam before Louis Farrakhan, but the coalition is a separate group. The Coalition for the Remembrance of Elijah Muhammad has a website that includes some very divisive beliefs, including a demand for the separate education of black and white children and the prohibition of “intermarriage or race mixing.”
The governor is already enmeshed in controversy over his appointment of a Nation of Islam member to his hate crimes commission. This latest revelation won’t help.
On February 9th of this year, Governor Rod Blagojevich issued the following proclamation (you can find the entire document by pulling up the Illinois Register for Feb. 24, 2006. Or you can download the relevant page here. (pdf file) :
COALITION FOR THE REMEMBRANCE OF ELIJAH MUHAMMAD DAY
WHEREAS, the Coalition for the Remembrance of Elijah Muhammad (C.R.O.E.) is celebrating their 19th Anniversary Foundersâ€™ Day on February 12, 2006; and
WHEREAS, founded in 1987 by Halif Muhammad, Shahid Muslim and Munir Muhammad, all of whom still serve the organization, C.R.O.E. exists to pay tribute to The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and ensure that his accomplishments and ideas are not forgotten; and
WHEREAS, the Coalition for the Remembrance of Elijah Muhammad continues to be an invaluable institution and an important voice in both the African-American community and among the general public:
THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim February 12, 2006 as COALITION FOR THE REMEMBRANCE OF ELIJAH MUHAMMAD DAY in Illinois, and encourage citizens to recognize the organizationâ€™s nineteen years of service to Illinois citizens and their ongoing commitment to ensuring the legacy of this influential African-American leader.
Issued by the Governor on February 9, 2006.
Who is the Coalition for the Remembrance of Elijah Muhammad? Here’s its website. And here is its list of beliefs. Most of it is just standard stuff, but there are a few interesting highlights:
We want equal education â€“ but separate schools up to 16 for boys and 18 for girls on the condition that the girls are sent to womenâ€™s colleges and universities. We want all black children educated, taught and trained by their own teachers.
Under such schooling systems we believe we will make a better nation of people. The United States government should provide, free, all necessary text books and equipment, schools, and college buildings. The Muslim teachers shall be left free to teach and train their people in the way of righteousness, decency and self respect.
We believe that intermarriage or race mixing should be prohibited. We want the religion of Islam taught without hindrance or suppression. […]
WE BELIEVE this is the time in history for the separation of the so-called Negroes and so-called white Americans. We believe the black man should be freed in name as well as in fact. By this we mean that he should be freed from the names imposed upon him by his former slave masters. Name which identified him as being the slave masterâ€™s slave. We believe that if we are free indeed, we should go in our own peopleâ€™s names â€“ the black people of the earth.
Elijah Muhammad was the former leader of the Nation of Islam, in case you were unaware.
(And, I’m aware that this is not the same group as the Nation of Islam. According to its website, “C.R.O.E. is an archival library dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the history of the Nation of Islam.)
(Updated to make the intro more clear)
UPDATE: This is no isolated incident. The governor issued the same sort of proclamation about the Coalition (although much shorter) in both 2004 and 2005. (large pdf files)
UPDATE 2: Ironically enough, Munir Muhammad, who is listed on the website as the co-founder/business manager of CROE, was appointed to the Illinois Human Rights Commission by Gov. Blagojevich in 2003. I didn’t know the commission was for separation of the races and against intermarriage.
STATEMENT OF ILLINOIS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
The Illinois Human Rights Commission is dedicated to the eradication of unlawful discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation and access to financial credit.
The Commission is non-partisan and non-political. The Commission conducts adjudication and does not issue advisory opinions or take positions on matters of public debate.
All members of the Illinois Human Rights Commission have been appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Illinois Senate.
In keeping with the spirit of the Illinois Human Rights Act the Human Rights Commission does not maintain information on the religious affiliation of its Commissioners or staff. The Commission will not receive press inquiry on such matters.
Individual Commissioners come from a great variety of racial, ethnic, and religious and disability status backgrounds. They come from many professional backgrounds. Commissioners are not appointed as representatives of demographic groups or organizations. Rather, all Commissioners are appointed to implement the mission of the Illinois Human Rights Act.
â€œCommissioner Munir Muhammad has served on the Commission since June of 2003. He has served with distinction, integrity and humility. All of the Commissioners share my view that he has honored and advanced the purposes of the Illinois Human Rights Actâ€, said J.B. Pritzker, Chairman.
The Commission respectfully submits that it is a model agency: Where persons of a great variety of perspectives, who share a common goal, work together and learn from one another.
UPDATE 4:From the governor’s office:
â€œAt a time when right wing organizations like the Illinois Family Institute are calling for the removal of Rick Garcia, one of the stateâ€™s leading gay activists, and others are attacking Munir Muhammed, a leader in the African American community, it is clearer than ever that our responsibility is to bring people together and not push them apart. That is why Governor Blagojevich is bringing together leaders from the Jewish, African American and gay communities to build understanding and promote tolerance.â€