Farrakhan kicks off men-only tour for the Million Man March (FCN, 01-18-2005)
WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – Like a torrent of water seeking the sea, the mobilization for the Million Man and Woman Mobilization of 2005 rolled through the U.S. capital city Jan. 15. Held at Union Temple Baptist Church, it was the fifth in a national series of leadership meetings planning to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the historic Million Man March (MMM) taking place later this year.
The meeting’s participants reflected a broad spectrum of grassroots organizations. Dr. Dorothy Height, president emeritus of the National Council of Negro Women, called the meeting from her hospital bed to pledge her support, as did former D.C. mayor Marion Barry, now a member of the D.C. Council. “Let it be known that we are still not free,” said Mr. Barry. “So we are going to work together and break the chains of bondage.”
D.C. Councilmember Vincent Gray, School Board member William Lockridge and D.C. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Clifford Janney attended the meeting side-by-side with leaders of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA), the New Black Panther Party, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), as well as dozens of pastors and Nation of Islam ministers.
The 10th anniversary commemoration of the MMM by Min. Farrakhan and Rev. Willie Wilson is “calling us to reclaim that position where Black men laid claim to their own destiny and took ownership and control over their own lives,” said Bishop George Stallings, founder of the African American Catholic Congregation. “Here, 10 years later, that same prophetic voice summons us once again.”
Rev. Walter Fauntroy, senior pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church and former Delegate to Congress, agreed. He recalled of the 1995 March that, “as a result of that peaceable assembly of nearly two million men, something happened in the minds of Black men across this country.” The entire country is better off, he said. There was, for example, a 55-percent increase in the number of Black males registered to vote. “It has not entered our heart what God is going to do. What we hear now from the leader of our time, Louis Farrakhan,” stated Rev. Fauntroy.
There were ample anecdotes. Rev. Wilson recalled a man who told him that he had never paid a single child support payment before the MMM, but who has not missed a single child support payment since the March.
Ms. Cora Masters Barry told the leaders she had been with 91-year-old Dr. Dorothy Height at Howard University Hospital the night before. “She told me to tell you that this (10th anniversary commemoration) is taking everything to a new level and she’s very, very excited about it. She intends to be with Min. Farrakhan and the rest of us and she wants us to stay together, and be together, men and women.”
Min. Farrakhan announced that one of the biggest differences between the mobilization planned for this year and the 1995 March will be the participation of women.
“I was going to call the men back,” Min. Farrakhan said, recalling that Rev. Wilson had written him a letter. “He said to me in his letter, ‘Brother Farrakhan, as you went across this nation teaching Black men how to act and they did not disappoint you at the Million Man March, if you will permit our women to come (this time), we will go across the country, and guide our women in their behavior. They will not disappoint us either. I will be much more energized if women are present.’”
“Reverend, I read your letter,” Min. Farrakhan continued. “I heard what you said. Yes. Yes. Yes. Our women must be there!”
“We are being called by God to do something big,” the Muslim leader said rhetorically. “Now, 10 years later, what do we have in mind? What can we do?
“My thinking and Rev. Willie Wilson’s thinking is not a march,” Min. Farrakhan said. “We are going to commemorate the March with the mobilization of our people to take the responsibility upon our shoulders to repair our condition.” That is the purpose of the commemoration Min. Farrakhan explained and, coupled with an alteration away from our self-destructive lifestyle, will result in a measurable improvement in the quality of life in the Black. Native, Latino and even poor White communities.
“The presence of these influential and powerful members of the Black community is proof that the only thing that could possibly eclipse the historic Million Man March is this great commemoration of its 10th anniversary,” Min. Jamil Muhammad, a national spokesman of the Nation of Islam, told The Final Call. “It will be bigger, more significant and more important to the condition of our people, by the help of Allah and the guidance of Minister Farrakhan.”
“The Million Man March was a sign of what could be done when people think of something bigger than themselves,” said Min. Farrakhan. “This is something that we are called to do at this moment, and we can’t blow it.” Someone, he insisted, must declare, concerning the suffering and exploitation of the poor in this country that “enough is enough.”
(Nisa Islam Muhammad contributed to this article.)