Genius Of Farrakhan: Reflections On Million Man March Year 20 And Leveraging Black Dollars

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They came, they saw, they're fired up and ready to succeed!

[Commentary]

Riding in a DC cab the day after the March, the driver wanted to know the “Numbers. A Million or so?”

I responded, “Two million or more.”

This was based on my own unscientific observations looking out at the stretched out masses of people within the barricades lining the Great Lawn, on adjacent streets, and the continuing streams entering from north and south conduits.

Equally significant, even when leaving early, the late throngs of people pouring in and heading to the Mall certainly adds to an elevated assessment of how many people were there. I’m reminded 20 years ago of the controversy over the number of people who attended that first March.

While Minister Louis Farrakhan called for and acknowledged a million in attendance, the government downplayed this number offering no more than 400,000 to 500,000. On the other hand, others gave a figure of more than a million in 1995.

However, while some folks may have arrived late, such as my daughter Keisha traveling with her family, who incidentally were in attendance at the Million Family March in 2000, the 2,000,000 number seems a real possibility.

Continuing the dialogue with the driver, he remarked, “I have been in this town 40 years. This town belonged to African Americans but this has changed.” I did observe a fair amount of destitute people on the streets and made contributions. On Sunday morning at McDonalds, to several of the persons nearby I asked, “Did you have your coffee this morning, brother?”

I provided and in return received several resounding “Thank yous”  as heartfelt responses.

Notwithstanding, as the driver said, my mind reflected on a photograph at the Meridian Park, now renamed Malcolm X Park, showing a tremendous gathering of Marching African Americans streaming out onto the street on Black Solidarity Day in 1972.

Gathered in what appeared to be a military formation, an individual in “fatigues” led and directed people in prominent Afro hairstyles and wearing dashiki shirts. This was a classic Black Nationalism moment. Perhaps this was the “golden age” the driver referred to.

Nevertheless, though the stomach may appear a bit soft, the stalwarts at the far reaches of the Empire are no ways tired,
because the substance and significance of the gathering inherent in the ideology of the March attracting the numbers in attendance as reflected in the many who announced their presence two decades ago, broadening of the multi-ethnic flavor of the gathering to include Whites, Native Americans, Asians, Latinos, LGBTs. This in addition to those Black stalwarts who brought their sons and daughters, even wives, those who brought youngsters and those returning to assert their manhood in support of the call, the need for, and the demands for "Justice or Else" going forward. Such is the essence of substance and significance of this most potent idea.

Thus, and without question, we must give praise and thanks to Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam for conceiving, executing and contributing to the “Million” idea. We know there are forty-something million African Americans in this country. They spend one million million --that's one trillion-- dollars annually and there are perhaps a million Brothers and Sisters incarcerated; but Farrakhan’s idea is different, tremendously revolutionary, and with continuous tweaking will remain a potent beacon of consciousness, soul-searching and demands on government, all ripe for activism in nationalist assertion.

It's crystal clear, in the most vital organ of the American system, Washington, DC; this genius planted a profound idea whose time has not only come but will endure for eons because of the power, substance and significance contained in the message.

The numbers, quality and receptivity of those who answered the call and as they return to their widespread areas of operation, the trees of this forest will in turn generate forests of their own who will creatively experiment with, carry forward, and sustain the message of "Justice or Else," while making their own significant contributions not simply to advance the cause of Blackness  but equally continue to make America a better place for all.

Living the legacy decades later, when One Million will become "Twenty Million" and long after Minister Farrakhan himself and the rest of us have departed on the fiftieth anniversary and after, these millions more will rejoice over the success of their efforts, adding to the Million Man March ideology and program’s harvest of fruitful outcomes.

Farrakhan will be heralded as others in the ancestral pantheon; Jitu Weusi, Sonny Carson, Reverend Jones, Elombe Brath, Dr. Ben-Jochannan, Professor Clarke, Bill Lynch, and the oldsters Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Mary McLeod Bethune, Fannie Lou Hamer, Reverend Shuttlesworth, Dorothy Height, W.E.B. Dubois, Marcus Garvey, Elijah Mohammed, Kwame Ture, Herman Ferguson, Queen Mother Moore, Nelson Mandela, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Forbes Burnham, Mitta Monderson, Ollie McClean, and others.

One powerful theme Mr. Farrakhan evoked was the call for an economic boycott especially at holiday time. Investing in Black Enterprise is always an equally potent idea. However, for the longest, our leaders have emphasized the importance of the economic boycott. They cite the successes of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and concurrent Boycott of Birmingham stores that brought that city’s White supremacy to its knees.

Equally, many features of early Black Solidarity Day Boycott were successful but for whatever reason that movement lost its way, as only a few groups across the country see the need for and continue the tradition.

When Sean Bell, on the eve of his wedding, was shot many times in Queens, New York, Reverend Al Sharpton called for an economic march along Fifth Ave on December 16th of that year, entering 50th Street in Manhattan and passing through the “Heart of Christmas,” the intent was to “Shop for Justice.” The theme was, “Hold your money, Don’t Shop this holiday.” That is an equally significant theme Minister Farrakhan emphasized on this 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March under the shibboleth “Justice Or Else!”

Again, Bob Law and Reverend Calvin Butts in New York have proposed and are currently pursuing a national economic boycott to redirect the one trillion dollars African Americans spend annually. Echoing Adam Clayton Powell’s “Don’t shop where you can’t work” boycott dictum, down through the ages leaders have emphasized the same idea.

Bob Law, also emphasizing the prevalence of “fast food” establishments in the Black community and the implications for long-term health concerns, has advised “redirect your burger and fries money,” not necessarily your big spending habits.

He emphasized that these fast food joints don’t hire Blacks or support any nationalist initiatives that concern African Americans, they should not shop there. However, when shopping they should ask proprietors of such establishments, “Where are the Black people who work here since we’re shopping in your place of business?”

Without question, “our dollars represent the margin of profit” for these businesses as Bob Law expressed, particularly so the big chains with their ubiquitous presence in or serving the Black Community. More specific, only about 8 percent of Blacks need to withhold such spending to make a difference and these enterprises will recognize Black aspirations because Black Lives Matter in all of its manifestations. One sign at the march even advocated, “Make the Black Dollar circulate more in the Black Community!”

A classic case was once observed in Maryland, famous for crabs. One Asian establishment selling crabs but not employing Blacks was servicing a line that stretched around the corner because they made good crabs.  How foolish and counterproductive.

More importantly, however, in his two-hour presentation Minister Farrakhan said: “I know you all think I killed Malcolm. If I killed Malcolm, do you think I would be here? See who was giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation? It was an FBI agent.”

The idea elicits a Hollywood analogy in the movie "Shooter" starring Mark Walberg and Danny Glover. When the hero and the FBI agent went seeking wisdom from the old shooting expert, to the question, “Who killed Kennedy?” he responded, “Those boys on the grassy knoll were dead within hours.”

The FBI agent responded, “You know this for sure?” To which the expert responded, “I still have the shovels in the back.”

This sort of lends credence to the Minister’s denial. Notwithstanding, Sonny Carson and Herman Ferguson both thought he did it. However, he may not have been at the Audubon to pull the trigger but to feign ignorance of the climate around Malcolm and the hit going down is not a tenable position.

Nevertheless, the Minister pointed out the Honorable Gentleman had married the lady and took care of his children, “not like some of you players out there.” He equally criticized the many women who “let the players play” and not hold them accountable for their behaviors. He also made special note of crime within the Black community and killings as well police killing of Blacks.

Others gave a litany of names of victims of such violence. Nonetheless, with these issues the substance and significance of the March was cleaer and recognized in the numbers who came and the seeds they will plant to creatively organize and continue to demand Justice or Else.

They may return in five years to the Million Family in 2020; all the while the Million Woman in 2018 and Million Youth anniversaries remain on deck, certainly underscoring the significance of the idea of the Black Community thinking in the millions as a tool of social and nationalist activism.

We must acknowledge, praise and give thanks for Minister Farrakhan’s vision in seeing the need and inspiring Millions to think in such mega proportions while participating in structured recurring like decimal anniversaries to encourage future youth to build on the multifaceted platforms of social activism he bequeathed them.

The Million Man March idea is an epic self-help movement to uplift African people here and abroad-- Farrakhan's and his cadre's creatively brilliant concept.

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