Controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan implored black Detroiters this morning to reclaim “our” city by uniting, buying up land and fending off “the buzzards flying overhead” in a fiery, unprepared speech before the Detroit City Council.
As impassioned as ever, Farrakhan called Detroit “one of the greatest cities in the history of this nation” and a “wasteland” that is being taken over by outside investors who want to control the city’s future.
“Suppose we could connect the dots and suppose that the 500,000 blacks in Detroit decided this this is our city, this is our home, and we are not going to let buzzards take it from us,” Farrakhan said to thundering applause at a city hall auditorium that did not reach capacity.
The minister also criticized Gov. Rick Snyder for appointing an emergency manager to take over the city and strip the authority of local elected leaders.
Farrakhan also reminded Detroiters of the epic struggle of black southerners to escape the segregated south and migrate to Detroit in search of decent-paying auto jobs in the early part of the 2oth century.
“We fled from a horrible existence on a plantation to a city of hope, Detroit,” Farrakhan said. “We got jobs in the factories. We joined the unions, and we got a living salary.”
But times have changed, he said, and black Detroiters are struggling to survive.
“But now there is a chance for us,” Farrakhan said. “Don’t despair, for the darkest hour is just before the dawn.”
Farrakhan, who was in town in search of potential investments in homes and other property, said he was struck by the apathy, crime and abandonment.
“You’ve got to have a fighting spiri for life,” Farrakhan said. “You can’t just throw up your hands and die and let the city go to hell.”
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.