With the holiday season approaching and retailers speculating about their Black Friday shopping numbers, the time also draws near for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s “Justice or Else” boycott.
Minister Farrakhan put the call out during the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, a call for the Black community to withhold their holiday shopping dollars in the pursuit of justice.
The purpose of the boycott is to pull national attention to the economic and social deprivations and injustices faced by African Americans.
Eric Muhammad, co-chair of Justice or Else Philly said a number of local community meetings have been held in preparation of the boycott.
The initiative is scheduled to last from Black Friday, Nov. 27 to Jan. 2.
“The Justice Or Else Coalition of Philadelphia has convened several community meetings with Christian and Islamic leaders, as well as youth activists,” said Muhammad. “Economist Bruce Crawley, founder of the African American Chamber Of Commerce, has been at each of the community meetings with a PowerPoint presentation to educate people on Black spending and our contribution to the overall economy. We’ve gone into the neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia with palm cards, posters and door hangers spreading the word about the boycott of the Christmas buying season.”
Muhammad said the local support organization has a great social media campaign running from their online platforms: twitter @justice4philly; Instagram @justiceorelsephilly, Facebook at Justice Or Else Philly; and from their website justiceorelsephilly.com.
Muhammad said Minister Farrakhan’s call for the boycott is gaining more momentum.
“We have a Digital Strike Team that provides images and information for those who would like to assist in promoting the boycott,” Muhammad said. “We’re planning a Black-Out Black Friday Rally on Black Friday, Nov. 27.”
The rally begins at noon in Malcolm X Park, located at 52nd and Pine streets.
“The call of Minister Farrakhan to boycott the Christmas buying season is gaining great nationwide support,” Muhammad said. “We believe that support will gain more momentum as Black people begin to see the relationship between social justice and the power of economic withdrawal as evidenced with the Missouri state football team. Such action symbolizes a new awakening in the people toward substantive activism.”
Farrakhan discussed the impending boycott during an interview with Tribune editors and reporters in September on the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.
The theme of the anniversary march in Washington being Justice or Else, with the “or else” involving the national economic boycott.
Farrakhan noted he is calling for a boycott of Christmas, not the honoring of Jesus. He is asking for the withdrawal of economic support during the holiday season and for the rest of the year to not do business with those companies Black Americans have traditionally spent money on.
“The world will take note of us when we take note of ourselves,” he said.
During the civil rights movement, the boycott of the bus system in Montgomery, Ala., allowed Black riders to sit wherever they wanted. The economic withdraw of segregated businesses in Birmingham, Ala., brought the establishment to the negotiating table. In 2009 economic pressure against the advertisers of Glenn Beck’s television show ended his broadcasts.
“I definitely think this is a worthy cause, no question about it and I hope it’s going to be successful,” said Bilal Qayyum, executive director of the Father’s Day Rally Committee. “Considering what’s going on in our communities, economic pressure is going to get people’s attention. If we do this it’s going to have a major impact and bring needed attention to serious problems that need to be resolved. But I should mention that we don’t want to boycott Black-owned businesses and that should be a distinction. This is a worthy cause and our people should support it.”
Defense attorney and activist Michael Coard said if a fraction of Black Americans follow Farrakhan’s lead on the boycott, it’s going to get the message across.
“Whether most Black folks like or dislike Minister Farrakhan, they all must agree that he is the most uncompromising national Black leader since Malcolm X,” he said. “Unlike today’s other so-called national Black leaders, he is beholden to no political party or corporate donor. His call for a boycott of Christmas, which, by the way, is not a call for the boycott of Christianity — makes much more sense in the short- and long-terms than anything being called for by anyone else in the battle for racial justice. The 45 million Black folks in America have purchasing power of $1.2 trillion. If even just a fraction of us follow his lead and spend only at Black businesses during Christmas — in other words, if we actively pursue ‘silver rights’ — we’ll automatically and immediately get our civil rights.”