Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan tonight attacked black politicians who have criticized him, including D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, saying they did so to "placate the Jews." He warned they may meet the same fate as black South Africans who are "apologists for white oppressors."
In an appearance before an overflow crowd of more than 1,400 at predominantly black Morgan State University here, Farrakhan also railed against Jews and the press, which he said has deliberately taken his statements out of context in order to discredit him.
"The day to destroy black leaders and teachers and guides is over," he shouted at reporters seated near the stage. "You want to incite someone to take my life . . . . You are such wicked people."
Farrakhan, the Chicago-based leader of a Muslim sect called the Nation of Islam, has been denounced by many politicians and religious leaders for anti-Semitic remarks he has made in recent speeches around the country.
"For Mayor Marion Barry, our brother with a black constituency voted into power by black people, he condemns my words in Washington, D.C. . . . He repudiates me because of Jewish pressure and then wants to talk to me on the phone afterward. Such hypocrisy!" said Farrakhan.
On Sept. 9, Barry said that "the anti-Semitic impeachments that he [Farrakhan] made didn't help our city at all." His statement to the executive committee of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington came after Jewish community leaders implored him to speak out about Farrakhan's speech in Washington July 22.
A Barry aide said tonight the mayor stands by that statement.
Tonight, in his attack on black leaders critical of him, Farrakhan declared: "I'm going to fight you back now. You do these things to placate the Jews while in private you say such terrible things."
Farrakhan warned "black leaders, professors and educators to look at South Africa where the little blacks are killing blacks who are apologists for the white oppressors."
The almost entirely black audience, which included many Morgan State students intermingled with well dressed persons in their thirties and forties, enthusiastically applauded Farrakhan's attacks on the press. Their response to his condemnations of Barry and other black politicians was more restrained.
Security at the event was tight. Everyone entering the hall had to submit to a search.
Soon after he started his speech, Farrakhan told the audience there were 4,000 people outside waiting to get in, but Morgan State police said there were only 150 to 200 persons who could not get seats.
Farrakhan has drawn large, mostly non-Muslim crowds in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles and Washington in recent months for similar speeches in which he has castigated Jews and preached a message of economic self-determination for blacks through his economic self-help company, People Organized and Working for Economic Rebirth, or POWER.
Although there was some controversy on campus and a coalition of black and Jewish leaders last week appealed to Farrakhan not to bring a message of anti-Semitism to Baltimore, Mayor William Donald Schaefer remained silent on the subject of Farrakhan's impending visit.
Schaefer said yesterday he thought the matter "was handled well in the city," referring to the statement by the black and Jewish leaders. "It wasn't escalated out of proportion." He added that he believes Farrakhan has the right to free speech but should refrain from anti-Semitic statements. "The students invited him," he said. "They were responsible. They were not trying to incite anti-Semitism."