(FinalCall.com) – The ninth anniversary of the Million Man March will be celebrated in Chicago, Ill. with a weekend of activities October 15-17, that include a tribute to Muslim pioneers, a walk-a-thon fundraiser for The Louis Farrakhan Prostrate Cancer Foundation, a concert and a keynote address by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
“It’s been more than three years since the Muslims have gathered in Chicago for our annual meeting. We want them to be able to come and enjoy themselves during our celebration,” Maria Farrakhan Muhammad, executive producer for the weekend, told The Final Call.
“We are welcoming them with open arms. We want them to sit back and relax as we serve them with a weekend of activities that has something for everyone. More important, we want them to understand the implications of this dreadful disease, prostate cancer.”
Ms. Muhammad is the daughter of Minister Farrakhan and is personally overseeing every detail of the weekend, which begins with a tribute to 30 pioneers who have paved the way for Islam in America.
“We are giving these pioneers their flowers while they live, which is the theme for the dinner. We’ll have a jazz band with vocalists and a special treat from the daughters of legends Sam Cooke and Dick Gregory,” she revealed.
“Ayanna Gregory and Gail Cooke will grace us with selections. Another highlight of the night will be a special violin performance by Minister Farrakhan. We have some other surprises–but people will have to be there to see them.”
Jumu’ah prayer will be held on Friday, Oct. 15 at 1 p.m. Saturday morning kicks off with a 9 a.m. press conference and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the “Walk for Life” walk-a-thon at Washington Park, the site of the DuSable Museum of African American History.
“Everything begins with a parade-feel. We’re having floats and Dunbar High School Marching Band will lead the parade. Walkers are coming from all over the country to raise awareness and much-needed funds to help fight this disease,” said Ms. Muhammad.
After the approx. two-mile walk on the city’s Southside, the crowd will gather back at the park for an afternoon of family activities that include the Jesse White Tumblers, a vending bazaar, talent showcases and health screenings.
“Some of our men are afraid to come to a prostate screening. We’re decreasing the fear by offering the screening in a family supportive atmosphere,” she said.
The day ends with a star-studded concert featuring singing sensations Stephanie Mills, Chicago’s own Selena Johnson and many other talented artists.
Minister Farrakhan culminates the weekend’s activities with what promises to be a standing-room only lecture entitled, “Blessed are the Peacemakers.”
Something for everyone
For those 14-24-year-olds who don’t want to tag behind or tag along with their parents, another set of events are scheduled, beginning Oct. 15 with the Nation of Islam’s version of BET‘s “106 and Park” called “73rd and Stony” (the intersection for Mosque Maryam).
“We have workshops planned for the youth that address their issues and concerns. We won’t be just preaching to them; we’ll have actual youth speaking to youth about teen pregnancy, drugs, handling the influences of the world as a Muslim and much more,” explained Kabasa Muhammad, coordinator of youth activities, to The Final Call.
“Our goal is to develop youth leadership and make the youth feel a part of their Nation of Islam. We’re very excited about this, because it’s the first time it’s been done.”
On the night of Oct. 15, the youth will help host the tribute dinner. The following day, their events include a basketball tournament, a rap flow-a-thon and a talent showcase called “Search for a Nation’s Idol.” The night ends with a formal Black-and-White Ball at the Salaam Restaurant, which will be reopened that weekend.
“The ball will be the highlight of the weekend. We’re combining young people and dancing, which many people think we don’t do. We can do this and do it in the best manner. We’re dividing the ages, so everyone can have an age-appropriate good time,” she pointed out.
Planning the event
Nearly two million men showed up on the Washington Mall to participate in the historic Million Man March on October 16, 1995 in Washington, D.C. Called by Minister Farrakhan as a day of atonement for past wrongs, the men committed themselves to a better future. Since then, Oct. 16 has been commemorated and recognized as a Day of Atonement around the nation with celebrations.
Saviours’ Day in February, a tribute to Nation of Islam Founder Master W. F. Muhammad, is the usual time when Muslims have journeyed to their Chicago headquarters. National gatherings in various cities have also been held during October to celebrate the birth of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
For the past three years, members have been encouraged to hold local celebrations–viewing Minister Farrakhan’s keynote address via webcast–in order to build their communities and increase the spirit in their cities.
“This year everyone will witness the transformation from what we normally do in a convention center,” explained Carmin A. Muhammad, a producer for the weekend.
“Minister Farrakhan challenged us to have the event on the mosque grounds. It wasn’t easy, but he made us connect with Allah (God) to meet the challenge. We had to have His spirit to accomplish this.”
“We’re transforming the mosque grounds to look fabulous,” she went on to say. “We’ve fulfilled the wishes of Minister Farrakhan for the Believers to have a spectacular weekend.”
(For more information, call (773) 602-1230 ext. 777.)