“Justice or Else” was the call to people of color throughout the nation by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.
Farrakhan, 82, spoke to the crowd on the National Mall in Washington and reflected on the importance of passing the torch to the next generation.
“We who are getting older… what good are we if we don’t prepare young people to carry that torch of liberation to the next step? What good are we if we think we can last forever and not prepare others to walk in our footsteps?” he said.
The message was different from the first march, this message was directed at the black community at large, not just men. Many women and children were in the crowd and Farrakhan talked at length about how men should honor women.
A website, www.justiceorelse.com, carried a live webcast of the events and made it easy for people to donate money or volunteer. Speakers encouraged the crowd to share images and video of the rally on social media, and #MillionManMarch became a trending topic for much of the day.
Farrakhan blasted the white establishment again on Saturday.
“Moses was not an integrationist and neither are we,” he said. “Let me be clear. America has no future for you or for me. She can’t make a future for herself, much less a future for us.”
Minister Farrakhan also spoke on the importance of economic justice. Referring to Martin Luther King Jr. platform on boycotting businesses that don’t support the black community.
Minister Farrakhan called out the hypocrisy in the political system and criticized those candidates seeking the White House.
“They are like the pretty girl showing her wares for someone to buy her,” Farrakhan said in a speech on the steps of the Capitol.
“Who wants to be a whore?” he asked. “You think people who put their money behind you don’t expect something from you?”
Attention has been focused on the relationship between African-American men and law enforcement since the fatal shootings of two blacks — Trayvon Martin, 17, who was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012 in Florida, and Michael Brown, 18, who was shot during an altercation with a police officer in 2014 in Missouri.
Since then, the deaths of other unarmed black males at the hands of law enforcement have inspired protests under the “Black Lives Matter” moniker around the country.
“These are not just young people who happened to wake up one morning. Ferguson ignited it all,” Farrakhan said. “So [to] all the brothers and sisters from Ferguson who laid in the streets, all the brothers and sisters from Ferguson who challenged the tanks, we are honored that you have come to represent our struggle and our demands.”
The original march was directed to black men in America and the need for unity and responsibility. To mark the anniversary Saturday, Farrakhan called for a mass gathering, this time including other marginalized groups, Native Americans and Hispanics among them.
The 1995 event was the fourth-largest demonstration in Washington history, and the largest predominantly black gathering.
President Barack Obama, who attended the first Million Man March, was in California on Saturday.
Damon K. Jones
Damon K. Jones is an Activist, Author, and Publisher of Black Westchester Magazine, a Black-owned and operated newspaper based in Westchester County, New York.
Mr. Jones is a Spiritual Life Coach, Couples and Family Therapy Coach, Holistic Health Practitioner, First Aid in Mental Health Practioner, Diet and Nutrition Advisor, and Vegan, Vegetarian Nutrition Life Coach.
Mr. Jones is a 32-year Law Enforcement Practioner New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America.
Mr. Jones has been a guest commentator on New York radio stations WBLS (107.5 FM), WLIB (1190 am), WRKS (98.7 FM), WBAI (99.5 FM), and Westchester's WVOX (1460 am). Mr. Jones has appeared on local television broadcasts, including Westchester News 12 "News Makers" and Public Television "Winbrook Pride. You can now hear Damon every Wednesday at 830 AM on WFAS at 1230 AM, Morning with Bob Marone Show.