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Muhammad talk takes softer tone

The Nation of Islam official who called Jews bloodsuckers and said some whites should be killed offered a more subdued message Monday in a speech that had prompted anti-bigotry gatherings around the state.

Khallid Abdul Muhammad told an audience of about 350 people at Trenton State College that "whites have taught us that we are black because we are cursed." But he said he did not come to teach black people how to hate whites.

"This is going to be a love black-unity cheer tonight," Muhammad said.

He did accuse the media of being racist and, pointing to all the television cameras in the room, said, "Sorry to disappoint you guys _ this is a black history celebration."

It was a far cry from his Nov. 29 speech at Kean College in Union when he called Jews "bloodsuckers" of the black community and said the pope was a "no-good cracker." He also urged blacks to kill all whites in South Africa, including women, children and the disabled.

He had been invited to speak on the legacy of Marcus Garvey, an early black nationalist who founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association in the 1920s. Muhammad, who was the Nation of Islam's national spokesman until he was demoted after the November speech, is also a member of the Garvey-founded group.

His appearance at Trenton prompted politicians from Republican Gov. Christie Whitman and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley on down to attend panel discussions and prayer vigils and make speeches condemning Muhammad's earlier remarks. The state Assembly convened a special session to allow members to speak out against hate speech.