and Jeri Muhammad
NEW YORK (FinalCall.com) – A crowd of a few thousand gathered in Brooklyn, New York on September 6 to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the Million Youth March, which began in 1998 under the leadership of former New Black Panther Party head, Dr. Khallid Muhammad. Organizers of this year’s march said the gathering would demonstrate Black unity. This is the first year that the march was held outside of Harlem.
The marchers, after releasing white doves, proceeded from Franklin Avenue and ended their march at Nostrand Avenue, which is considered one of the busiest economic centers in Black America today. Led by Malik Zulu Shabazz, head of the New Black Panther Party, and convener of the event, marchers, such as Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron (D-E.NY), civil rights activist Rev. Herbert Daughtry, Harlem’s Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely, Brooklyn activist Richard Green and Atiim Ferguson of the Brooklyn-based Committee to Honor Black Heroes, walked arm-in-arm to symbolize their unity.
Mr. Shabazz said during his speech that the march was meant to urge young people to stop killing, stop going to prison, complete school, go to work and to write more responsible rap lyrics. “What’s happening on the stage represents what the Million Youth March is about,” Mr. Shabazz told The Final Call.
Sitting on the stage were such elders as Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Black Studies professor at City College of New York; Dr. Adelaide Sanford, renowned educator and member of the New York State Board of Regents; Minister Kevin Muhammad, head of Harlem’s Muhammad Mosque No. 7; New Jersey-based Peoples Organization for Progress head, Larry Hamm;
MOVE leader Pam Africa from Philadelphia; Juanita Young of the October 22 Coalition, whose son Malcolm Ferguson was killed on March 1, 2000 by a New York City police officer under mysterious circumstances; along with a plethora of youth activists from the metropolitan area.
Min. Muhammad said the march must be about Black unity, but more importantly “Divine Unity.” He told the gathering that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that Black is not national–Black is universal; Black includes the whole human family.
“We have come this afternoon to add to the working platform for young people. We are taught that you must come to God as a child, so no matter our age, we come to the Million Youth March as babies,” Min. Muhammad stressed. “We come here today to deliver a message from Minister Louis Farrakhan, that you are not a lost generation. You are a chosen group, not to be led by your rage or your passion, but you are to be led by the reason of God,” he added.
Atiim Ferguson told The Final Call during an exclusive interview in his Bedford-Stuyvesant office a few hours before the start of the march that “this is not about rabble rousing.”
“We are calling for a five-year plan to put together programs for education, economic development and political empowerment,” Mr. Ferguson said.
Councilman Barron agreed with Mr. Ferguson. “Today’s march is the launching of a movement to move the political process forward in New York City to force a more equitable sharing of the city budget. Our youth are looking at us, as the elders, to see if we have the guts to face the power structure to bring home the funds necessary to put our five-year plan forward,” Mr. Barron said.
Mr. Ferguson also said the Million Youth March demonstrated a beginning in getting the elders to listen to the youth and vice versa. Seventeen-year-old Ellie Ellerbe told The Final Call that she felt that there was too much disrespect between the generations. “We need to stop this disrespect and come together as one,” Ms. Ellerbe said. She said that much of the problem stems from the youth not respecting themselves. “Much of that problem comes directly from the home,” she added.