Volume 4, Number 7 February 5, 2001
100 year old Pioneer survives tragic hospital stay
by Dr. Ridgely A. Muímin Muhammad
Here at Muhammad Farms in Bronwood, Ga we have a treasure in one of our great pioneers and farmers, Bro. William Muhammad. He just got out of the hospital so we thought that the readers would like to meet him.
Bro. William was born in Mississippi on March 14, 1901. This coming March he will be 100 years old. He acts as "father" to over 90 children and is the natural father of 50. His youngest is 20 years old. He attributes his long and productive life to hard work, the farm, and the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
He was one of the first two pioneers sent down here to Georgia to run the Nationís farm in 1966. They had to clear thousands of acres of woods for crop land. However, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad made sure that they had all the money and equipment that they needed to make the farm successful.
Back in the 1960ís and 70ís there were many small black owned stores in Albany that bought produce directly from the Nationís farm, but since that time these small stores went out of business. The larger stores no longer bought vegetables locally and the vegetable production in this area basically stopped. The larger chains buy from corporate farms and keep the produce in large warehouses in another state, then ship the produce back into smaller towns like Albany.
Here is part of Bro. Williams testimony:
William: "There wasnít nobody down here growing vegetables. They called this a dead area. We did more with this land, this old battlefield land, with vegetables than anybody in Georgia. It wouldnít produce nothing here but corn and wheat, barley. When we got started back with the vegetables the people knew that we were producing vegetables with none of those chemicals in it.
What happened is that a farmer grew some kale and collard greens and turnip greens and he put that DDT on there. A lot of people got sick and died off of that. But we wouldnít allow none of that on our farm. We wouldnít let them fly over and spray that stuff either."
Q.: So that was back in the 60ís right?
William: "Right. Back then and right today they come by asking for vegetables cause they know we donít use chemicals. We use organic. Many people donít know what organic means. It donít just mean one thing. You can take leaves as a good organic that you can put in the field, along with cow manure or horse manure, you have good deal."
He has lived to see the Nation lose that farm and get a part of it back in 1994. During the time that the Nation had loss the farm, Bro. William chose to stay in Georgia and attempt to farm on his own. He like other black farmers had little success at getting loans from the local Farmers Home Administration due to discrimination. He has also filed a claim in the class action lawsuit against the USDA. However, he like many other black farmers have not received any compensation, but are still fighting against an unending stream of red tape between them and justice.
In the interview he went into the history of how he was chosen to come to the farm in Georgia and what they went through to set things up. He also talked about what happened when the Nation fell and what has happened since Minister Farrakhan, using the Three Year Economic Program, got part of the old farm back.
He also went into detail about how Nation did not have enough money left over for equipment when it got the farm land back in 1994. In the first few months Bro. William and I had to borrow equipment from other farmers and get local black farmers to help them put in the first crop in 1995.
Later in the interview we asked him about his most recent hospital stay which produces more evidence that we need facilities to take care of our pioneers and elders ourselves in our own health and convolesence facilities. He went to his doctor to check on the congestion in his lungs and discovered that he had contracted pneumonia in both of his lungs.
When he went into a local hospital in Albany Georgia, one of the doctors put the I.V. needle in his flesh instead of his vein. This caused his arm to blow up like an inner tube, while he was asleep. When he awoke his arm was bleeding and severely swollen. He could not lift it up and rang for the nurse. The nurse took another 20 minutes to get there.
He had to stay over for an extended period in the hospital for them to get that swelling down. Fortunately, it did go down and he is home now. We started to do an article on him when he was in the hospital, but thought better of it, since he was actually in the hands of strangers. We thank Allah for bringing him safely through his ordeal. It would have been a tragedy indeed, if after his long years of struggle, we would have lost him because of a careless doctor.
His story is fascinating. We will be doing more interviews with him and other pioneers who were on Muhammad Farms in the early days. It would be well worthwhile to visit Bro. William and Muhammad Farms to see a living legend or invite him to your local areas to share with the youth what it takes to be a pioneer for freedom. For more of his story read "Interview with a 100 year old Pioneer" at: http://muhammadfarms.com/The%20Farmer%20Newsletter.htm