PHILADELPHIA - “We have support. We have allies,” said Dr. Malik Zulu Shabazz, chairman of the New Black Panther Party. “Everything that is Black is under attack. There is a fear of Black leadership. There is a fear, as Public Enemy said, of a Black planet.”
Zulu Shabazz and other Black leaders gathered at Sylvia’s Restaurant to address accusations of racism and the voter intimidation controversy, which have kept them a major topic among certain mainstream media outlets.
“We want to let the Tea Party know this afternoon. We want to let Rush Limbaugh know this afternoon. We want to let Glenn Beck know this afternoon. Sean Hannity. Abraham Foxman from the Anti-Defamation League. Megan Kelly from Fox News. You will not stop the rise of a Black messiah and you will not stop the rise of Black leadership in 2010,” stated Zulu Shabazz.
While the chairman of the party was a major draw, much of the attention was drawn to King Samir Shabazz, who spoke publicly for the first time since Fox News and other conservative media outlets leveled accusations of voter intimidation in Philadelphia. The incident, as reported by the AmNews, was recorded on video and displayed on several news stations. In the video, two University of Pennsylvania students get into an exchange with Samir Shabazz, who was carrying a nightstick while pacing back and forth in front of a polling station in a predominantly Black Philadelphia neighborhood.
The video, which is still on YouTube, led the George W. Bush administration to file voter intimidation charges against the organization during the last days of transition from Bush to Obama. The charges, however, were eventually dropped in May of 2009.
Samir Shabazz has also come under fire for views that some have considered racist. He held back no punches when addressing all accusations. “I’ve been waiting to speak to you, the world [and] the Black nation,” he said. “I stand with the New Black Panther Party. I stand with Malik Zulu Shabazz. I dealt with the things that have been going on as a soldier should, as a warrior should and as a Black man who really loves Black people should.
“You say I’m a radical,” Samir Shabazz continued. “You say I’m a government operative. You say I’m Obama’s hit man. You say I’m Eric Holder’s boy. But I will tell you Black people that I am your brother first. You call me a white-hating bigot, but I’m a man who loves Black people more than they hate themselves.”
Samir Shabazz wanted to direct the media’s attention to other issues he felt were more important. He discussed some of the work he’s done with youth in Philadelphia. He also discussed his work as a community leader in his neighborhood, but he also touched on homosexuality, which he said was “destroying the minds of youth.” Samir Shabazz also referred to Fox News as “Fox Jews” and New York City as “Jew York City.” But according to Dr. Malik Zulu Shabazz, today wasn’t about disagreeing or agreeing with one another. It was about the unity of the organization.
Zulu Shabazz said that people should look at “their level of dissatisfaction, their discontent and their anger. You might hear all sorts of things come from them. I am coming here today for all of my people who are angry against a system, a society and a government that have injured them, have wronged them [and] have robbed them and failed to give them reparations, and have failed to protect them and give them justice.
“I say, don’t look at the symptom, look at the cause,” Zulu Shabazz continued. “Don’t look at the resulting rhetoric from where someone may be angry. Let’s look at the root causes. Because if we can look at the root causes of the suffering, the root causes of the statement, the root causes of the dissatisfaction and the discontent, maybe then we can see some change.”
While Zulu Shabazz’s words may not have been enough to put out the fire surrounding Samir Shabazz’s statements, New York City Councilman Charles Barron offered a similar take, claiming that everyone who spoke today is in unison with the mission and won’t let the media divide them.
“No matter what you think, we are embracing each other with unity,” Barron said. “We’re not gonna allow the press to pick us off against each other. You know what the press is gonna do? ‘Do you agree with everything he said? Do you agree with everything he said?’ So just for the record, we’re all in unity today. We’re not answering those questions ’cause we’re all in unity today. They’re looking to divide us.”
Before Barron left to tend to other business, he let the members of the New Black Panther Party know that the controversy surrounding them was something to be embraced for various reasons.
“This is a good thing. It’s a good thing that they’re attacking you,” Barron said. “It’s a sign that you’re making progress. The worst thing they can do is ignore you…It’s a sign that they fear you. It’s a sign that they know their days are numbered when we’re going to allow people to oppress us without any consequences, political, economical or otherwise.”