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Louis Farrakhan has led the Nation of Islam, an African American movement that combined elements of Islam with black nationalism since 1978.
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In the early 1980s, Farrakhan threw his support behind Reverend Jesse Jackson's presidential bid. A group within his organization, Fruit of Islam, provided security for Jackson during his 1984 run. Jackson's campaign ran into trouble when Jackson made an anti-Semitic remark and Farrakhan rose to his defense. Over the years,
Farrakhan has blamed the Jewish community for some of the suffering endured by African Americans. He has also criticized other ethnicities and racial groups.
One of Farrakhan's most significant accomplishments has been organizing the 1995 Million Man March on Washington, D.C. That October, Farrakhan brought together a variety of African American leaders, such as Reverend Jesse Jackson, civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks and Malcolm X's widow Betty Shabazz, to speak on important social issues to the crowd gathered there. The total number of participants has been a topic of debate, with estimates ranging from 400,000 to 2 million attendees. Farrakhan also held a Million Family March in 2000.
While many recognize the value of Nation of Islam's social and educational programs, Farrakhan has been criticized for some of his other activities. He toured 18 nations in 1996, which included a stop in Libya. Farrakhan accepted funds from the late Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi for the Nation of Islam, but the U.S. government refused to let him keep the money.
Farrakhan remains a polarizing figure to this day. He continues to fight oppression wherever he sees it, whether it's in the nation's educational system, government or urban communities. And Farrakhan is still making waves with his public comments.
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