Power: Two Million Strong
â€œThe measure of this day is not today," said Farrakhan. "The measure of this day will be determined by what we do tomorrow to create a movement, a real movement among our people." The mass media, not surprisingly, made sure that there was a white-out. Aside from the strenuous and consistent coverage of the Black media, there was little pre-march coverage. No matter, the drum was sounded verbally, electronically or by whatever means; and the people came.
They came. Nearly two million strong.
The feeling of warmth and Black love was contagious. There was an overwhelming atmosphere of the glorious reaffirmation of Blackness. A reported 1.8 million Black people came to the National Mall in front of the Capitol Building â€“ built by enslaved Africans.
Topics discussed ranged from economic empowerment, creations of Black-controlled governmental departments â€“ in essence a Black national government to do the work that the Federal government neglects in education, health, commerce and public safety and justice â€“ and better social and economic ties with mother Africa.
Ten years ago, between one to two million Black males had heeded NOI Minister Louis Farrakhanâ€™s call. Last Saturday October 16, organizers of the Millions More Movement declared by mid-afternoon that Washingtonâ€™s own transportation officials determined the number in attendance to be over 800,000 people; NOI officials put the figure closer to two million. â€œThe measure of this day is not today," said Farrakhan. "The measure of this day will be determined by what we do tomorrow to create a movement, a real movement among our people." The mass media, not surprisingly, made sure that there was a white-out. Aside from the strenuous and consistent coverage of the Black media, there was little pre-march coverage. No matter, the drum was sounded verbally, electronically or by whatever means; and the people came.
Farrakhan was introduced to the stage by his daughter Minister Dora Muhammad. "Our whole spectrum of Black thought is here on the steps of the Capitol Building. This is more than a moment in time," Farrakhan declared.
For 11 hours people waited to hear, what turned out to be an 80-minute speech by Farrakhan. In the meantime, they heard from an array of Black leaders, activists and organizations, including attorney Chokwe Lumumba, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Phile Chionesu of the Million Woman March, and scholar Dr. Yosef ben-Jochannon, who was brought to the podium by Dr. Leonard and Dr. Rosalind Jeffries. Others present were Dr. Ron Daniels of the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Dr. Ron Walters, Dr. Cornel West, and Russell Simmons. "Itâ€™ not enough to be a hip hop celebrity," said Simmons, "If you donâ€™t do hip hop activism."
Wyclef Jean rocked the crowd, mixing politics with the ultimate crowd participation. He brought the spirit of New Orleans, and a fierce energy which had thousands waving T-shirts, flags, keys, fliers and Black fists. Erykah Badu took a very long minute to tell the people that emancipation begins with ones self. Dr. Ben told the gathering to turn around and rejoice in their number.
The Jericho Movementâ€™s Efia Nwangaza led the rallying cry for Americaâ€™s political prisoners. Bob Law pushed Black power-economics while Rev. Al Sharpton announced that todayâ€™s "Jim Crow Jr.," was a little slicker than his father James, but just as deadly and conniving.
Elaine Johnson, who lost a son in the Iraq war called for all to ask for their sons and daughters to return home; another mother cried, "Thereâ€™s no pain like a motherâ€™s pain." A whole host of young people from street organizations to university campuses, took the mike and explained that they were more than willing, ready and able to seize the torch of Black leadership.
Susan Taylor from Essence magazine delivered a tribute to the elders. Dr. Dorothy Height, pioneer fighter and elder said, â€œWe have to learn to stay togetherâ€”and work together." Nisa Muhammad of the Wedded Bliss organization urged, "marriage matters." Single mothers, she cried, are tired of having to shoulder all the burden, having to engage a court system for men who seemingly would rather face the possibility of jail time than support their own children.
From overseas, shown via the Jumbotrons, words of support for MMM came from Ricardo AlarcÃ³n, president of the Cuban National Assembly; and from Jamaicaâ€™s Prime Minister P. J. Patterson. AlarcÃ³n revealed that the U.S. had rejected Cubaâ€™s offer of 1,500 doctors to help in Katrina relief. (Farrakhan declared Black people should find a way to get these doctors to the inner cities, and to accept Fidel Castroâ€™s offer of medical scholarships).
December 12thâ€™s Viola Plummer December assailed the "lying, bloodsucking" Bush administration for its ongoing assault on Zimbabweâ€™s Robert Mugabe for his land reclamation from white farmers in his nation. "If Katrina said nothing else," she said, "it said that we have no land." Economist Julianne Malveaux and Radio Oneâ€™s Mark Thompson kept the day long program moving at a steady pace. Katrina probably got the most mention by speakers. With his two sons Mustapha and Joshua on either side, Farrakhan boomed, "We want to know what happened to the levees. We don't want to guess about it and we don't want to be guilty of following rumors." He continued, "We can charge the government with criminal neglect of the people of New Orleans, Louisiana and Mississippi.â€? He called upon lawyers to explore how to file class action lawsuit against FEMA. "All this is wonderful, but it doesnâ€™t mean a thing if thereâ€™s no action," Plummer, head of the December 12th Movement, said later as she addressed a bus load of tired, but inspired riders on the trip back to New York. She advised that something as simple as mailing a letter to elected officials on a variety of issues, is a start. Thirty seven cents on a daily basis can bring attention to a cause and get some movement.
Next Tuesday night at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, at 132 Odell Clark Place, between Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and Malcolm X Boulevards, at 6.30p.m., the Million More Movement will be analyzed. The next move will be planned.
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