Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Charles Patrick, a former black militant who rediscovered America and, in so doing, discovered himself. He is now a motivational speaker and is writing his memoir, From Left 2 Right: My Journey from Farrakhan to Limbaugh. Visit his site at charlesrpatrick.com.
FP: Charles Patrick, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Let’s start with how you became a militant and what inspired you to do so.
Patrick: Thanks Jamie.
Becoming a militant was never an aspiration in my life. No one in my family or extended family had ever been involved with a militant organization. It started for me in school where my first tint of frustration started. I was born with a severe stuttering problem. As a result. I was labeled as a special needs child. From the 4th to 7th grades I had to attend special classes in the basement. I remember the embarrassment of being pulled out of my regular classes by the speech therapy teacher. I was at a new school when it started but throughout it all I kept a positive attitude about school. In the eighth grade I transferred to a new school and didn’t have to attend any more special classes. I had worked my tail off in my other subjects. I was playing catch up on the regular class time I was missing due to the therapy classes. I made the honor roll in the eighth grade and I felt that this whole episode of special classes was behind me.
For my freshman year, I was shocked to see that I was enrolled in special reading classes. I thought that my English would be composition English or literature like other college-bound students. I knew at this point that my idea of going to college was over. I mentally dropped out of school at that point. My frustration with the educational system was building but I put on a good face for my parents. I lasted for 2 years and surprisingly passed all of my courses before I dropped out after my sophomore year.
At this point in my life, I had no direction but I did not want to displease my parents. I made a deal with them to work and get my GED. This went on for 4 years. I enlisted in the Army when I was 21. I did 3 years in the Army and got out when I was 24. I knew I could do better and have more choices in my life than what the Army was offering me. However, things did not work out for me at all once when got out. I had a lot of trouble finding what my passion was and I had little desire to do anything with my life. I think a lot of it stemmed from my childhood and being labeled. Being an adult now and not having any direction in life is different than when I was a kid. As a kid it was frustration — as an adult it turned to anger. I was looking back at my school years and I became very angry and was looking for answers.
I had started to listen to black talk radio and heard this Nation of Islam minister guy come on and I was mesmerized. The radio station WVON out of Chicago use to play speeches by Louis Farrakhan. I listened and it was if he was talking to me personally. It seemed like he had all of the answers that I was seeking in my life. Listening to him made me believe that my problems stem from me not having knowledge about myself. He would provide info on all of the famous blacks I had never heard of from school. From inventors, writers etc and he would blame the educational system for not teaching me this. When he said this it was a hallelujah moment for me. This inspired me to want to join the Nation of Islam. This was in the late 80’s and early 90’s when it seemed that black nationalism was everywhere in the black community. I knew right then that this was going to be an important part of my life. I was at the time involved in my first interracial relationship. She became the first casualty of my new way of thinking. I was set up with a mentor from the nation who would help me become a member.
I was given a set of general orders mainly talking about the distance of the earth to the sun, and other facts about the population of the original man (Black Man). My mentor then taught me how the white man was not human. He took out a dictionary and looked up the word hue. He then showed me how it was spelled phonetically (hyoo). He then looked the word human and it was spelled (hyoo-men). He concluded that since hue meant color that the word human means man of color. Since the white man has no color he cannot be human.
Soon after I was reading a lot of books by a black nationalist. The common theme was the black man is the victim of white supremacy. Out of all the books I read there were 2 people who I found fascinating: Frances Cress Welsing and Leonard Jeffries. Leonard Jeffries was more of a professor than a writer. Both of them, along with the Nation of Islam, believed in melanin as a superior pigment. This was something that made the black man supreme and since whites had far less than blacks they were evil. I was taught that the white man knew the power of melanin and that is one of the reasons he had to destroy the black man. I found all of this fascinating, because to me this explained why my life was the way it was. I felt that if I could better understand this then I would have a better life because I will have this knowledge. Melanin was explained for the different anatomies of blacks and whites. From our hair which they called strong antennas, which allow for quicker transmission of magnetic and electrical energy. Whites had what was called limp hair or weak antennas. To our noses which are broad and flat. It causes blacks to have a wider field of vision. Whites have noses that are raised and have a chiseled bridge which blocks field of vision.
FP: What started your second thoughts and how did you act on them? What were the consequences?
Patrick: Well, this type of education went on for a little more than a year. I was being asked by my mentor to join the nation of Islam. I had a hard time denouncing the Christian religion and becoming a Muslim. I was getting tired of reading books by black nationalists. I felt that I was not being challenged intellectually. I started reading motivational books. They had a quote that says “once the mind is expanded with knowledge it never goes back to its original dimensions.” My professional life was not going better. I still had a hard time trying to figure out what kind of career I wanted.
I started telling my Nation of Islam mentor that I had a desire to become a business owner even though I had no idea as to what kind. He did not take to this too kindly. It started to occur to me that all that they wanted me to do was to sell and promote the Nation of Islam and my individual aspirations did not matter. I was starting to have second thoughts about joining.
I was isolated from family and friends. In reality they started to avoid me because they didn’t want to hear me talk about “that Muslim stuff.” A lot of black men I met from the Nation of Islam had come from jail, or were former junkies and gang-bangers. Even though we all believed in what the Nation was doing I did not have the type of worship mentality they had when it came to Farrakhan. For me, I found it hard that they did not give credit to themselves for changing their lives. It was hard for me to give up my individual self for the collective. I had done service in the Army where I felt the same type of thing. I was not going down that road again even if it was for the uplift of the black community. In reality it was not for the uplift of the black community, it was for the uplift of the Nation of Islam.