In Message To The Blackman in America, pages 56-57, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad stated nearly 50 years ago: “As a people we must become producers, and not remain consumers and employees. We must be able to extract raw materials from the earth, and manufacture them into something useful for ourselves.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad encourages the Black community to shift from being primarily consumers and employees to becoming producers. This implies a call to develop the capacity to create and contribute to producing goods and services.
By advocating for the ability to extract raw materials from the earth and manufacture them into valuable products, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad is promoting economic independence. This independence is seen as a means for the Black community to reduce reliance on external sources for goods and services. The mention of extracting raw materials from the earth emphasizes the importance of utilizing natural resources. This could include various industries related to agriculture, mining, or other sectors where raw materials are sourced.
The overall message is one of self-sufficiency, where the community is encouraged to control its economic destiny by engaging in activities that contribute to the creation and production of goods. This self-sufficiency is seen as a pathway to empowerment.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad's words suggest that by being producers, the Black community can not only meet its own needs but also contribute to the economic growth and development of the community. It reflects a vision of economic empowerment beyond individual success to benefit the broader community.
Today, systemic racism has historically created barriers for Black individuals in various aspects of life, including business. Discriminatory practices in lending, housing, and access to resources have disproportionately affected Black communities in somewhat the practices of The Jim Crow era.
Why was the Honorable Elijah Muhammad successful in establishing businesses during Jim Crow? What can we learn?
The success of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in establishing businesses during the Jim Crow era can be attributed to several key factors, reflecting his vision, leadership, and strategic approach.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad clearly envisioned economic empowerment for the Black community. He recognized the importance of economic self-sufficiency to overcome racial inequality and oppression. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad emphasized the need for financial independence within the Nation of Islam. He encouraged members to establish and support businesses that catered to the community's needs, fostering a sense of self-reliance.
Many of the businesses established by Elijah Muhammad were community-focused. They provided essential services, such as grocery stores, bakeries, and clothing shops, meeting the daily needs of the community members. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad promoted self-education and encouraged his followers to develop practical skills. This emphasis on self-improvement contributed to the success of businesses by creating a skilled and knowledgeable workforce.
The Nation of Islam advocated for cooperative economics, where members pooled resources to support businesses within the community. This collaborative approach helped companies to thrive despite the challenges imposed by Jim Crow laws.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad placed importance on training and skill development. Members of the Nation of Islam were encouraged to acquire skills that would contribute to the success of businesses, whether in agriculture, trade, or services.
The Nation of Islam and its businesses received strong support from the Black community. By fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose, Elijah Muhammad created a foundation for community support that is crucial for business success. Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam resisted the discriminatory Jim Crow laws by establishing businesses that provided alternatives to segregated services. This resistance, coupled with economic success, challenged the status quo.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad's commitment to Black economic empowerment went beyond just business. It encompassed education, self-discipline, and community building. This holistic approach contributed to the overall success of the Nation of Islam's economic initiatives. Under The Honorable Elijah Muhammad's leadership, the Nation of Islam engaged in political and social advocacy, seeking to address systemic issues of racial injustice. This advocacy contributed to a broader movement for civil rights and economic equality.
Circulating resources within the community is a strategy for reducing economic disparities. By creating a supportive financial ecosystem, the Black community can work toward closing the wealth gap and addressing historical inequities. The Black community has no excuse not to be successful.
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