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NATION

Farrakhan ends silence on Obama

November 10, 2008|Emily S. Achenbaum | Achenbaum writes for the Chicago Tribune.

CHICAGO — Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said Sunday that having a black president would not mean the end of racial inequity in the U.S.

"Even with this remarkable event, the country remains divided and polarized," Farrakhan said of Barack Obama's historic victory. He spoke at Mosque Maryam, the movement's headquarters on Chicago's South Side.

Farrakhan said many John McCain voters were older whites living in the South, and that it pained them to see a black person in power.

In February, Farrakhan said Obama was the nation's best hope for healing racial divisions. Obama later distanced himself from Farrakhan and denounced the minister for making comments he considered anti-Semitic.

Farrakhan said he avoided discussing Obama publicly for the last nine months because he feared his comments would be taken out of context and could hurt Obama's campaign.

"I decided it would be better to keep quiet," Farrakhan said.

But on Sunday, the 75-year-old minister was far from tight-lipped.

"There's nothing funny about what this young man has to face," Farrakhan said to a crowd of about 2,500 Nation of Islam members. "This man not only needs our protection and divine protection, he needs all of us . . . to ask, 'What can I do to make him a successful president?' "

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