Firebrand Conrad Muhammad, former Nation of Islam minister, is flirting with the idea of challenging Congressman Major Owens, if City Council member Una Clarke loses to him in the hotly contested Democratic primary in Brooklyn. Muhammad, 35, says that he would run as a Republican in the November general election.
"I took umbrage to Congressman Owens's tactics of dividing the African American and Caribbean community," says Muhammad, referring to Owens's ill-fated attempt to knock Clarke off the ballot on the grounds that Clarke, a native of Jamaica, had voted illegally before she became a citizen. "Challenging the citizenship of Una Clarke is unacceptable, and if he defeats her I might be compelled to step into the race."
The outspoken Muhammad was the New York representative of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and the chief minister at Harlem's historic Mosque No. 7, where he founded Muhammad University of Islam, a charter school. In 1998, he left the Nation after Farrakhan had demoted him a year earlier. Disenchanted with the organization's agenda, Muhammad formed Conscious Hip-Hop Activism Necessary for Global Empowerment.
Muhammad, a registered Democrat, says, "If I enter this race, I will walk the streets trumpeting the messages of hope and self-empowerment."
Muhammad says that he has the backing of a Republican grassroots organizer, who is part of a network of Republicans who are "really progressive black people, who, much like myself, are indignant at the continued disrespect blacks receive from the Democrats."
Muhammad says that if blacks leverage their votes, both parties would be forced to court them the way they do Latinos, Jews, Catholics, and women.