Louis Farrakhan to speak at UC Berkeley

Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan speaks while on the Cliff Kelley show on WVON talk radio in Chicago, Wednesday, March 24, 2010.
March 10, 2012 12:44:03 AM PST
Minister Louis Farrakhan, revered by some, reviled by others, is making a rare public appearance at UC Berkeley. Even before he says a word, there is already controversy.

Farrakhan is taking part in a conference on campus this weekend. Many are anxious to hear what he has to say while others angry that he was invited to speak.

This weekend's Afrikan Black Coalition Conference at Cal is hosted by the Black Student Union. Saturday morning, Farrakhan is scheduled to speak.

"I was personally excited; I know I've heard a lot about him but I've never really had the opportunity to actually see him and to hear him talk, but I think it was a good idea," student Mykiyaa Walker-Sanchez said.

Not everyone agrees because of past comments Farrakhan has made that have been viewed as anti-Semitic and racist.

Noah Ickowitz is a student senator representing the Jewish community. He's part of a group urging fellow students to sign an online petition that already has almost 350 signatures.

"My grandparents were Holocaust survivors and Louis Farrakhan's negative comments, even about the Holocaust and comments where he calls himself Hitler, make it so that I don't just feel uncomfortable, I feel like it erases my personal past and my ancestry," Ickowitz said.

Ickowitz says the petition is only meant to let the BSU know how others on campus feel.

"In no way, do I want this petition to stop Louis Farrakhan or to make the BSU change their mind," Ickowitz said.

Ickowitz supports both free speech and the conference.

"I wish and those who signed the petition wish that they could have chosen someone that would have given black empowerment to students, which is so important, but not at the expense of the empowerment of other communities," Ickowitz said.

Reyna Harvey goes to UC Riverside. She came up for the conference and looks forward to hearing what the various speakers have to say.

"Just because you're listening to a speaker, doesn't mean you have to believe their ideology," Harvey said.

Ickowitz says he plans to present his petition to people attending Saturday's conference.


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