The plight of the black man

by RR 24 Replies latest social current

  • RR

    Firpo Carr's latest book is: "Jehovah's Witnesses:
    the African-American Enigma- A Contemporary Study",

    LOS ANGELES- While they are probably best known for their door-to-door
    proselytizing, author Firbo Carr reports that Jehovah's Witnesses have impacted
    the African-American community in ways people don't realize.

    In fact, in his just released book- "Jehovah's Witnesses: the African-American
    Enigma- A Contemporary Study"- Carr writes that the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X,
    and Muhammad Ali all have connections to this American born religion.

    "The Nation of Islam does acknowledge the connection but in hushed tones," said
    Carr. "They know the influence Witnesses have had on them."

    Carr, who holds a doctorate in religious studies, will discuss (actually
    discussed now of course) his new book at 7 P.M. Friday July 19, at the talking
    Drum Forum at the Harambee Farmer's Market located at Crenshaw Boulevard and
    Slauson Avenue.

    In his book, Carr writes that Wallace D Fard [also known as Fard Muhammad],
    founder of the Nation of Islam, was apparently influenced Noble Drew Ali, who
    culled information for his organization from Jehovah's Witnesses.

    Ali founded the Moorish Science Temple of America in New Jersey in 1913. It
    collapsed after his death in 1939, and Fard is suspected of being one of Ali's

    Carr said, Fard's Nation of Islam theology was created using tenets from the
    Bible, the Koran, and Jehovah's Witnesses teaching tracts.

    Fard even urged his followers to get radios to listen to speeches of Joseph F.
    Rutherford, leader of the Witnesses, writes Carr

    The Malcolm X connection to the Witnesses was even stronger, said the author.

    "His mother and father were 'Garveyites' " explained the religious scholar, who
    said after Malcolm's father died, his mother took her children to Jehovah's
    Witnesses halls.

    And then in Norfolk Prison Colony, Malcolm X studied the Bible under Jehovah's
    Witness Prescott Adams.

    "Garveyites" are individuals who followed the teachings of early 20th century
    Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey.

    Muhammad Ali also came into close personal contact with a Jehovah's Witness,
    Carr said.

    When the boxing champion refused the draft based on his religious beliefs, he
    used the services of Jehovah's Witness lawyer Hayden C. Covington to help win
    his case.

    Covington was the Watchtower attorney who argued Witnesses' ministerial
    deferment cases before the United States Supreme Court. In 1955, he had argued
    and won more cases before the nation's highest court than any other man in U.S.

    So just who are the Witnesses, and what do they believe?. Carr said there are
    an estimated 25 to 30 percent who are African-Americans.

    "Witnesses are probably closer to primitive Christians; meaning that they are
    closer to the [teachings] of ancient Christians of the 1st century" said Carr,
    who himself was exposed to both witness and Baptist theology as a child, and
    has traveled around the world studying religious philosophies.

    Jehovah's Witness Watchtower and Bible and Tract Society was launched in 1887
    by Pittsburgh Bible teacher Charles Taze Russell.

    People of African descent began to trickle into the organization around the
    turn of the century, and came in droves during the 1950s and 1960s, said Carr.

    "What they offered that no other religion did was Heaven here on earth. Black
    people, especially during the tumultuous 60s were going through a lot", said
    Carr. Many didn't like the two choices the majority of other religions offered-
    "Heaven" or "Hell."

    "Surprisingly a great number didn't want to go to Heaven [or Hell]", said Carr.
    "The Witnesses say you can stay here on earth in paradise. The scripture they
    often quote is Matthew 5:5- "The meek shall inherit the earth.

    "That had a pull with us. We are an agrarian people. Coming from Africa, we
    lived off the land, and the [Witness philosophy] struck a chord in the hearts
    of black America".

    In addition to the concept of an earthly paradise, Witnesses do not believe in
    the concept of the equality of the Trinity- The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
    They accept that Jesus is the Son of God, but repudiate that the two are the
    same. "The Witnesses are an 'open secret' " said Carr. "There right under are
    noses in the black communities across the nation. They impact our community in
    a subtle fashion more than any other religion. They've been a force for good
    without receiving acknowledgement for it, without being thanked. They visit
    30,000 people in prison annually".

    Additionally, nationwide, Witnesses' legal battles for the right not to salute
    the flag have paved the way for people to enjoy this freedom today. Carr said
    that among the untrue myths about the Witnesses are that they are an austere
    people who don't want to have fun because they don't celebrate holidays.

    So what does Carr expect people to take away from his book and lectures?. "An
    understanding of what has drawn black leaders to the Witnesses in the first
    place," he said. "The fact that they are tapping in on our black collective
    psyche. That's why black leaders and thinkers have been drawn to us. It appeals
    to blacks to have a paradise on earth; to have an entire world look like
    Africa, because Africa has everything. That is the subconscious appeal."

    "The reason that they don't celebrate holidays [like Easter and Christmas] is
    because of there pagan origins," said Carr. "They want to practice the purity
    of scripture."


    "Southwest Wave" dated 7/17/02 in the "Word & Worship" section, p. A13

  • Fredhall


    Firpo Carr is the man!! And his book should be good to read.

  • RR

    Freddie, where you been hiding? Someone told me you were roadkill!

  • Fredhall


    I think I was here on Friday. Do you miss me RR?

  • RR

    Freddie, I have your face as my screen saver, so you're always there with me.

  • Dutchie

    RR, I also understand that when blacks began to come into the organization in great numbers in the '50's and '60's, they weren't exactly welcomed with open arms. Many of the white brothers resented their being there and some of them even left the organizstion because of blacks coming in. Sometimes, even congregational "privileges" were withheld from blacks.

    This organization was started by midwestern white men with prejudices of their own, but after all, numbers, wherever they come from, are numbers. But it took awhile for blacks to be fully integrated into the organization.

  • RR

    I agree. And although there are several Blacks and hispanics who site on the board of directors of the various corporatiosn formed a few years ago. The Governing Body to my knowledge is still "white".

  • Nathan Natas
    Nathan Natas

    I heard that Ted Jaracz channels the spirit of Sammy Davis Jr. - doesn't that count?

    "Hey babe, it's all on a spiritual level, dig?"

  • outnfree

    I never heard that Hayden Covington was involved in Ali's draft resisting court case. Is this true?

  • RR

    Yep it's true, but they left him out of the "ALI" movie :) Of all the cases he tried, he lost Ali's I smell conspiracy. ... lol

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