NOI New Orleans Documentary
Saturday, February 17, Muhammad Mosque No. 46 of the Nation of Islam in New Orleans released their highly anticipated documentary titled, “The History of the Nation of Islam in the Crescent City”. The 36-minute video dating back to the 1950’s, journeys through the lives of those responsible for making the mosque into what it is today over 60 years later. The documentary features vintage photos and interviews with pioneers who paved the way.
Political science professor, Dr. Gary Clark, and the Political Science Department at Dillard University hosted the premiere of the documentary for public viewing on their campus at 11:30 am during Black History month.
Dillard students and folks from the community came out to the event that began with an opening prayer and welcoming from Brother Lawrence Muhammad of the Nation of Islam. Dr. Clark followed with a few opening words and one of the youth, Ahkil, entertained the audience by playing his saxophone.
Student Minister Willie Muhammad of Mosque No. 46, who came up with the idea to do the documentary, said it took nearly four years to complete the project. Locating some of the pioneers, scheduling interviews, conducting the interviews, writing and editing the script, editing the hours of footage collected, was an arduous task, but said so much footage was gathered that there will be a part two to the documentary.
“I understand the value of properly telling our history,” Student Minister Willie Muhammad said. “There is no mystery God. If we don’t record our history from those who are still alive, then many of them will return to Allah with that knowledge. There’s an African proverb that says, ‘When an elder dies, it’s equal to a library being burned down.’ So we wanted to tell the story to show our pioneers that their sacrifices were not in vain and how important it is to leave something for future generations to learn.”
If we don’t record our history from those who are still alive, then many of them will return to Allah with that knowledge.
Dwayne Muhammad who served as the videographer of the documentary said it was gratifying to take part in something so historic. “I’m a history buff. I take pride in doing something like this that will last for years after we’re gone. I learned a lot about how the Believers worked during that time. They were hardworking and dedicated.,” he raved. “We were privileged to actually sit in some of their homes and hear their stories. It was enlightening to sit in the company of the people who paved the way for us.”
A VIP section was set up for the pioneers on campus. They wore personalized name badges and was given gift bags that contained their own copy of the documentary. Refreshments were also served.
“I thought we were going to get thrown out of the facility,” Rhonda Muhammad stated. “After the video aired, everyone stayed behind fellowshipping. It was beautiful watching the old and the new come together. I really feel every city should have some kind of documentary or historical research done so people can know the sacrifices of our pioneers. I heard the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan say, ‘we stand on the shoulders of the people before us.’ People really don’t understand what that means. It’s one thing to know about our history, but it’s another to actually see it.”
One of the pioneers was brought to tears watching the documentary. “I was honored to be chosen to be apart of this documentary,” said Sherrief Nadir. “I soldiered with everyone in the film and seeing them brought back so many memories. I knew their work ethics, I knew their accomplishments and tremendous sacrifices and the opposition we faced. We worked hard back then. We carried 300 papers and we sold fish products. We had a strong sense of unity and we worked together for a common cause and our people had a better sense of self.”
“I was honored to participate in the documentary,” said Jawad Shakir, one of the pioneers. “It was something that needed to be captured because a lot of times we leave this earth without our story being told and that can leave room for misinformation.”
Jawad Skakir being an alumnus of Dillard University appreciated that the premiere was hosted there because of its rich history. He described the experience as coming full circle. He talked about a brother that went to Harvard and studied Malcolm X, then moved back to New Orleans and enlightened them on the Black Muslim movement at that time.
“Many of the pioneers in New Orleans attended Dillard,” he added. “We started the movement on campus. It was like ten of us, brothers and sisters. We would teach on campus and many of the professors respected us so much they would tell their students to listen to us.”
“I thank Allah for the young folks that are now carrying the torch,” said pioneer, Sister Rosedale. “I’m also grateful for them thinking enough of us to go back in our history and tell our stories. That documentary was very detailed and informative and I commend them for being able to condense the info into a well-organized video.”
“I actually went over to a sister’s home who’s now debilitated and shared the documentary with her. I could see that watching the DVD lifted her spirit. It was a beautiful thing,” Sis. Rosedale commented.
You can get your copy of this historic documentary HERE!