Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan said Sunday that presidential candidate BarackObamais the "hope of the entire world" that the U.S. will change for the better.
Farrakhan, addressing an estimated crowd of 20,000 people at the annual Saviours' Day celebration, spent the majority of the nearly two-hour speech praising the Illinois senator.
"This young man is the hope of the entire world that America will change and be made better," he said. "This young man is capturing audiences of black and brown and red and yellow. If you look at Barack Obama's audiences and look at the effect of his words, those people are being transformed."
Farrakhan compared Obama to the religion's founder, Fard Muhammad, who also had a white mother and black father.
"A black man with a white mother became a savior to us," he told the crowd of mostly followers dressed in Nation of Islam attire. "A black man with a white mother could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall."
Farrakhan also leveled small jabs at Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama's rival for the Democratic nomination.
Farrakhan's keynote address at McCormick Place, the city's convention center, wrapped up three days of events geared at unifying followers and targeting youth.
A year ago, Farrakhan made what was called his final public address at a Saviours' Day event in Detroit. The 74-year-old was recovering from complications from prostate cancer and months earlier had ceded leadership of the organization to an executive board.
In a letter to followers dated Sept. 11, 2006, he said he was seriously ill and had dropped more than twenty pounds. He said Sunday he once weighed as little as 158 pounds.
But over the past year, Farrakhan has been regaining strength and slowly increasing his public appearances, giving lectures at the Nation's Mosque Maryam on the city's South Side, speaking in churches about unity and granting occasional interviews.