Estimated reading time: 10 minute(s)
By Rhodesia Muhammad
New Orleans – Student Minister Willie Muhammad of the Nation of Islam in New Orleans, along with brothers of Muhammad Mosque No. 46, recently visited the Travis Hill Facility, a new school that opened in August 2016 inside of the Youth Study Center (YSC), that serves as the juvenile detention center for Orleans Parish. YSC provides pre-trial detention to youths between the ages of 14-17 who are charged with committing a delinquent offense that ranges from armed robbery to murder.
The school was named after recently deceased New Orleans native and musician, Travis “Trumpet Black” Hill, who used music to turn his life around after serving 9 years in prison for armed robbery. The first-time Student Min. Willie Muhammad visited the school was during a speaking engagement that was arranged for Student Min. Nuri Muhammad of Indianapolis, during his visit to the city of New Orleans. Brother Nuri spoke to the youth about not allowing the cell they resided in to become a tomb for them, but for it to be a womb for growth and new beginnings. Many questions followed Student Min. Nuri’s talk, including questions about the Holy Quran, Malcolm X, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, and the Nation of Islam. As a result of the inquiries, Student Min. Willie vowed to get each of them a copy of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s book, “Message to the Black Man”, and the Honorable Min. Louis Farrakhan’s “Twitter 2.0” book that contains questions from his twitter followers and his answers to those questions.
Student Min. Willie created an on-line social media campaign to request donations so that the books could be purchased. The request was met with great support. By the time Student Min. Willie returned to the facility to talk to the young men, the donations had doubled which allowed them to give out more books to the youth housed at the facility. The young men were excited that members of Muhammad Mosque #46 returned with the promised books.
Student Min. Willie spoke to them about the value of gaining knowledge of themselves. “I related the ‘cells’ they are housed in to the cell as being the building block of life,” he added. “A cell is also how the life of a human being begins. I told them that they must use this period of confinement to grow just as the cell while in the mother’s womb grows and develops as well. We spoke to them about using this period of confinement to undergo a new birth so that they leave the facility when their time is up as a new person.”
Student Min. Willie emphasized that in order for them to experience this new growth, they needed an essential component to spark and nurture their growth; that essential ingredient is knowledge of self. “I told them that the knowledge contained in that book (Message to the Black Man) transformed Malcolm X, who had become known as ‘Satan’ in prison,” he told the audience of attentive youth. “It was the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad that transformed the man nicknamed ‘Satan’ to be an instrument of salvation for thousands. I told them the same can happen for them if they start to delve into the transformative knowledge found in those books,” Student Min. Willie added.
Cairo Kwame, local community activist, also visited YSC and witnessed the excitement the young men exhibited when the brothers of the Nation of Islam walked through the door. “I have not seen any other group or organization that gets that type of response. I believe that the medicine the Nation of Islam has is the best for our people at this time,” he noted. “These young men are so attentive because a lot of them have hit rock bottom. Look at our juvenile justice system where some of these young men are facing 99 years for crimes where no one died.
The young brothers were excited about the books and some started reading them as soon as they got them. They asked that the brothers of Muhammad Mosque No. 46 come back to see them.