Testimony of Frantz Wilson in support of House Joint Resolution 22

March 5, 1998

I am Frantz Wilson and I live in Rockville, Maryland My daughter is an active member of the Original African Hebrew Israelite Nation which is also known as the black Hebrews. She was recruited into the organization in 1980 when she was a student at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. She now lives in Dimona, Israel where there are reportedly 1500-2000 African Americans followers of the Black Hebrew leader, Ben Ami Carter, who founded the sect in 1967, and contends that he is the Messiah. The sect also believes that they are direct descendents of Abraham Isaac and Jacob and are the true "inheritors" of the Land of Israel. The group practices polygamy, where some of the male leaders have as many as five wives. In addition to its "home" in Dimona, The Black Hebrews have organizational operations referred to as "extensions" in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Chicago.

This group fits all definitions of a destructive cult. Although there have been no recent reports of criminal activity, in past years a large number of their members have committed white collar crimes that include forgery, mail and credit card fraud, After one of the longest and most expensive court trials in the District of Columbia, nine of the Black Hebrew leaders plead guilty to a variety of white collar crimes.

Immediately after my daughter graduated from college, she was coerced into giving up fellowships and scholarships to Duke University for doctoral study in clinical psychology. She had graduated from Hampton with honors after, majoring in psychology and computer sciences. I did not know at that time that efforts to recruit her into the Black Hebrews occurred while she was a student. After discovering the facts, I met with Hampton's president, who was obviously unaware of the Black Hebrew presence on the campus. Even after my informing him of the problem, nothing was done to alert students, parents and faculty of the sect's recruitment efforts. After graduation from college, my daughter disappeared into the sect; and although it was well known that she was with the Black Hebrews, their leaders refused to tell me where she was. My family did not know where she was located for a period of four years It turned out that she spent two years in a Black Hebrew commune in Africa and two years in Israel.

The Black Hebrews, typical of cult like organizations, have established small business near African American College campuses in Washington and Atlanta which, ostensibly serve as recruitment centers. To my knowledge, the group does not recruit on Maryland College campus, although they have been known to have safe houses in Montgomery and Prince George counties. I am personally aware of many Maryland students and former students who are active Black Hebrews.

I offer this testimony in support of Joint Resolution #22 because it has tremendous potential for alerting higher education officials to a problem that has the gravest of consequences for students and their families who are unaware of the destructive cult-like and dangerous groups.

I thank you for the opportunity to provide the committee with this information, and I am quite willing to assist the committee in any way possible.

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