Photojournalist Askia Muhammad released a photo this week showing former President Barack Obama and the controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan from Obama’s years as a state senator — and the photographer revealed Thursday that the Congressional Black Caucus had pressured him for more than a decade to keep it hidden.
Muhammad told the Trice Edney News Wire last week that he believed that the image “absolutely would have made a difference” in the 2008 presidential campaign had it been made public.
The image taken in 2005 at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting on Capitol Hill showed then-Senator Obama, a young Democrat from Illinois, smiling side-by-side with Farrakhan.
Muhammad told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that the same day he snapped the photo, the CBC contacted him.
“A staff member from the black caucus called me and said ‘we have to have the picture back,’ and I was kind of taken aback. And we talked a couple of times on the phone after that, and I said ‘Okay, I will give the picture back to Minister Farrakhan’s chief of staff,’” he said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
He added that after he gave the original copy to Farrakhan’s staff, he kept his own copy but remained quiet.
“I gave the original disk to him and in a sense swore myself to secrecy because I had quietly made a copy for myself,” Muhammad said. “It’s my picture, it’s my art, and it’s my intellectual property. I owned it and I wanted to keep it.”
He said the CBC called him while he was still on Capitol Hill and he believed that it was because “they sensed the future.”
“Minister Farrakhan and his reputation would hurt someone trying to win acceptance in the broad cross-section,” he said, referring to the possibility at the time that the young senator was being considered for a presidential run.
Muhammad also said that Obama had, at some point, people from the Nation of Islam working on his staff and in his offices.
“In fact he had people from the Nation of Islam working on his staff and in his office in the Chicago, his Senate staff. The members of the Nation of Islam helped him in his Senate campaign and on the South Side of Chicago.”