Speaker urges African Americans to use 'any means necessary'

January 20, 2004|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - It was a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr., but the speaker delivering the message Monday kept repeating a line by another Civil Rights leader killed in the struggle in the 1960s.

"By any means necessary," was the Malcolm X phrase The Rev. Sahlim Mustafa repeated throughout his speech to the nearly full sanctuary at St. Peter's AME Church.

King's approach to ending segregation was peaceful civil disobedience while Malcolm X sought to end racism in this country "by any means necessary."

The celebration, the first sponsored by Harrodsburg's Roots & Heritage Society, began with breakfast at the West Lane Park Building. About 50 people braved the cold and wind to attend the breakfast. The group proceeded to the outside of St. Peter's AME Church to begin the march up Lexington Street.


The march was cut short because of the weather and the group returned to the church for the service, about 45 minutes before it was scheduled to begin.

Their number seeming to grow at each stop, the group sang hymns until the 11 a.m. service.

Before Mustafa spoke, Mercer County Judge-Executive John Trisler told the group that when he was invited to the event, "My mind went immediately to Abraham Lincoln," but he also gave tribute to King and the courageous young people who fought the civil rights battles in the 1960s.

Referring to King's "I have a dream" speech given at the foot of the Lincoln memorial in Washington, D.C., Trisler said, "In many ways we have not shared all of his dream." And while we do not act as if all men are created equal, "We will go to eternity as equals."

Mustafa attacked Trisler's words, saying Lincoln was a person learned about in school. "That's history; where's our history?"

Trisler left after his talk and Mustafa said he wished he had stayed, but Mustafa said he did not remember his name.

He called for Harrodsburg's black population to become active in elective office here. He noted there is no black person on the Harrodsburg City Commission or Mercer County Fiscal Court. He urged them to develop an "any-means-necessary attitude."

"Why don't Africans like African Americans?" Mustafa asked. "Because they have more pride," he answered.

While saying black people are not a part of Harrodsburg's governments, he added, "It's our own fault."

"We built this country," he said. "I want black folks to be proud of themselves." He said one way black people can become a part of the city is to have their own businesses and for other members of the community to support black businesses.

He also compared the slavery classes: The house Negro and the field Negro. The slaves that worked in the house identified with the slave owner while the slaves working in the field saw clearly the state of their existence.

"Black folks need to raise themselves up," Mustafa said. He charged that black members of society sugarcoat the issues. He said he could not forget the dogs and water hoses law enforcement used to stop civil rights workers.

He could not forget the four girls killed in the bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., church or the assassination of Medgar Evers in his own driveway. "We are still living in a nightmare."

Lastly, Mustafa challenged pastors in the audience to follow in their religious savior's steps.

"Jesus Christ was a servant of God," he said. "For the sake of God, if you don't serve God, you have no place in the ministry. We need to stop making a mockery of God's house."

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