A nightclub singer known as "Calypso Gene" before his conversion to the Nation of Islam in 1955, he likes to relax by playing the violin at home. Mendelssohn is a favourite.
The public Mr Farrakhan despises European culture and proclaims "African" Egypt to have been the source ofmankind's greatest achievements, from art to mathematics. He bases his views on "the white race" on the teachings of Elijah Mohammad, founder of the Nation of Islam, who proclaimed that whites "were not made to love or respect any member of the darker nations".
Mr Farrakhan, who was born in New York in 1934, uses racial anger as an instrument of political mobilisation and as a platform to develop a separatist message of black self-reliance. The level of crime in the black community, the destruction of the black family and the collapse of black education are causes for shame, he argues. Before seeking redress from the white establishment, he says, blacks must put their house in order.
While there is much in what Mr Farrakhan says that makes sense, his anti-Semitism turns many against him and denies him the possibility of emerging as the unifying "voice of the voiceless" that he aspires to be.Reuse content