D.C. rally stresses unity and Black power
Published Oct 19, 2005 12:03 AM
Millions More Movement, Oct. 15.
The Millions More
Movement held an important all-day rally Oct. 15 on the National Mall here that
attracted an overwhelmingly African-American crowd numbering more than 1
million, according to organizers. The main demand put forth by the rally
organizers and supported by the masses there was “Black power!”
Not one U.S. flag was prominent in the crowd, but the colors of the flag
for U.S. Black liberation—red, black and green—could be seen
Oct. 15 rally.
This MMM rally was first announced a year ago as a
commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March on Oct. 16, 1995,
held at the same site. That event attracted at least 1 million, mainly Black
men, and was initiated by the Nation of Islam.
This 2005 event, also
initiated by the NOI, was more inclusive in terms of embracing women, the
lesbian, gay, bi and trans communities, as well as Latin@s, the Indigenous and
other nationalities, all of whom were reflected in the crowd and speakers. The
crowd that filled the mall from the U.S. Capitol steps to the Washington
Monument included young people, the elderly, organized and unorganized workers,
The speeches were focused on a variety of issues: the prison
system and the plight of political prisoners—especially Mumia Abu-Jamal,
Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown) and Leonard Peltier-police
brutality, reparations, voter disenfranchisement, LGBT oppression, immigrant
rights, economic and political empowerment, education and health, the role of
art and culture in the struggle for social justice, and much more.
the 1995 rally primarily pushed for atonement, especially among Black men, the
theme of the Millions More Movement rally was qualitatively different in its
political message, due to two main issues: Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war.
These two issues were common themes, interwoven in many of the talks and
cultural presentations throughout the day, especially indignation over the
government’s handling of the hurricane. Many of the talks took on a strong
anti-U.S. government, anti-Bush theme.
Louis Farrakhan speaks
at Oct. 15.
Farrakhan offers program
The main presentation at this rally was given by
the MMM’s national convener and NOI leader, the Hon. Minister Louis
Farrakhan. The crowd anxiously awaited what he, more than any other speaker, had
to say. And he said plenty.
Farrakhan began his wide-ranging 80-minute
speech with the hope that Black people, along with Latin@s, the Indigenous and
the poor, would unite to build a strong struggle. He stated, “I
can’t guess how many of you are here today ... whether there is a
million... less than a million or more, it is not the most important thing ...
creating a movement of our people is important.” He expressed his
appreciation to the “unprecedented” number of Black leaders from
different political backgrounds and faiths who had come together to speak
“with one voice.”
He stressed that the failure of the U.S.
government to answer the needs of Black people and the poor was exposed by its
lack of response to Hurricane Katrina. He recommended that the Department of
Homeland Security, along with its emergency management agency, FEMA, be the
target of a class-action lawsuit by Katrina survivors, who should be fully
compensated for everything they lost due to “criminal neglect” on
the part of the government. The lawsuit, he said, should be based on facts and
not hearsay, in terms of what the government did and did not do to rescue people
of color off rooftops in New Orleans. He also called for an investigation of
what really happened to the levees.
The NOI leader spoke poignantly about
the 2,500 children, mainly of color, who are still missing from the Katrina
catastrophe and the pain that their families are still going
‘Organize street by street’
urged everyone to go back home and organize—street by street and house by
house—to build a movement that can be ready before another disaster. He
warned, “Organizing is serious and there are those who don’t want to
see us organized. The poor are supporting the rich, who hate anyone who can
stimulate the conscience of the poor. Are you sure you want a movement? Then be
ready for severe opposition.”
He then presented a proposal to set up
a number of ministries. Pointing out that Black people make up a significant
percentage of the population, he said the funds could come from an equal
percentage of the tax dollars, much of which go to the military budget.
Ministry of Health and Human Services should truly take care of the health needs
of the people. Farrakhan praised the Cuban government for offering to send 1,500
doctors to the Gulf Coast region to care for the Katrina survivors. The offer,
to this day, has been ignored by the Bush administration. He also thanked the
Venezuelan government for offering support to the Katrina survivors—also
rejected by the White House.
Cites Cuba’s offer of
He also praised President Fidel Castro of Cuba for
offering 500 scholarships for working-class people from the U.S. to study
medicine in Cuba, with the stipulation that, upon the completion of these
studies, they come back to the U.S. to provide health care for the
In response to the suffering of Black farmers in the U.S. who
have become dispossessed from their lands by racism and rich agribusiness
subsidies, Farrakhan motivated the need for a Ministry of Agriculture. He also
stated that Native people, much of whose land had been systematically stolen in
a genocidal manner by the U.S. government in the interests of westward
expansion, still have land in reservations that could be leased by Black
farmers, for their mutual benefit.
A Ministry of Education would be
necessary to help unite all Black educators because, according to Farrakhan, the
“Western system has run its course” and is no longer worthy of
Farrakhan stated that a Ministry of Defense is vital
because “our young people are fighting in the wrong war—either
against each other at home or in an unjust war in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
He said they should be brought home to defend their communities. “You
don’t need to be in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “You need
to be in our neighborhoods stopping the police from shooting us
Farrakhan connected the need for a Ministry of Arts and
Culture to the mass influence of the leader of the Chinese revolution, Mao
Zedong. Farrakhan stated that Mao’s ideas were very much reflected in
Chinese culture because Mao took a great interest in the creative ways that
political ideas could be broadly expressed.
Farrakhan said that Africa
and the Caribbean are in need of factories and that forming a Ministry of Trade
and Com merce could assist in this endeavor. He also stressed that trade
alliances should be formed between Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South
America to help strengthen these economies. The struggle for reparations, he
said, goes beyond the U.S. government making an apology for the slave trade and
for slavery. Reparations also mean canceling all debt of developing countries
and providing the means to build infrastructure.
Continuing in this vein,
Farrakhan reminded everyone that one of the reasons immigrants from Latin
America are forced to come here to find work is because the U.S. stole lands
from Mexico that are now Arizona, California, Texas and other states.
Among the many other speakers were Clarence Thomas and Chris Silvera from
the Million Worker March Movement; Dr. Dorothy Height of the National Council of
Negro Women; Indigenous leaders Russell Means and Vernon Bellecourt; Congress
woman Sheila Jackson; Haitian singer Wyclef Jean; Reverends Al Sharpton and
Jesse Jackson; Viola Plummer of the Dec. 12 Movement; Damu Smith, Black Voices
for Peace; and comedian and social activist Dick Gregory. The entire rally can
be viewed at www.millionmanmarch.org.
In a videotaped message played to
the crowd, the president of Cuba’s National Assembly, Ricardo
Alarcón, expressed the Cuban people’s solidarity with Katrina
survivors and all the poor in the U.S. He also spoke about the case of the Cuban
5, who were imprisoned for fighting against terrorism while the U.S. aids and
shelters real terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles.
Minister P.J. Patterson spoke via video satellite to express his solidarity with
the poor and oppressed in the U.S. His country gave asylum to President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide when he was kidnapped from Haiti by the U.S. government
in February 2004. Aristide is now in South Africa.
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