They billed it as the “Millions More Movement.” I guess when you are celebrating the ten-year anniversary of an event dubbed “The Million Man March,” an event that never really drew a million people, then you can call last Saturday’s celebration “Millions More,” even though it drew less of a crowd than the event that never hit one million ten years ago. Are you with me so far?
For hour after hour, speaker after speaker took to the podium at the Mall in Washington, D.C., to speak to a very faithful, peaceful and overwhelmingly African-American audience. This gathering, called by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, was supposed to be a lot more inclusive than the event in 1995.
For one thing, women were encouraged to attend this time around. And although one gay group has complained that it was not allowed to speak as planned, a guy representing the Black Man’s Exchange did speak. He referred to himself as a “same-gender loving black man.” That’s inclusive, I must say.
There were congressmen from Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and Illinois. All are members of the Congressional Black Caucus, of course. Former D.C. mayor Marion Barry and Former New Orleans chief executive Marc Morial were there, as was the current mayor of Detroit, Kuame Kilpatrick.
Most major African-American groups were represented, as were most black religious groups. Tavis Smiley was there and so was Jesse Jackson. They both spoke, although I must say that the good reverend did not have one of the “prime-time” slots and seemed to be reading his piece from a sheet of paper. It was quite unusual, but still nice and inclusive.
Unfortunately, Farrakhan’s idea of inclusive also includes the following folks:
Michael Muhammad, who happens to be the National Youth Minister for the Nation of Islam, wanted to stress a need to stop the violence as it now exists. Or maybe change the direction of the violence. I’ll report, you decide.
The Minister said: “We want to send out a message to our young brothers and sisters to stop the killing. We want to say to our young brothers of the Crips and Bloods that we are one family. The real enemy doesn’t wear red nor necessarily blue but white, even when he’s butt naked.”
That’s beautiful, isn’t it? And speaking of the “youth,” Ayende Baptiste was identified as a youth speaker from the ‘95 party. Well, little Ayende has obviously grown up. Just look at what he had to say:
“It’s the role of the elders to give council and the role of the young to make war. We are at war here in America and across the world. We need nation soldiers to come out of the armed forces and into ours. We need soldiers now. We need new black male soldiers, we need black feminist soldiers, we need Crips and Bloods soldiers . . . soldiers in the prisons, in the streets.”
Al Sharpton continued the Bush-bashing fest, saying that it is wickedness that made the president send us to war in Iraq. He called broken levees weapons of mass destruction and claimed, “All you had to do was look in New Orleans and stop bringing down and cutting the budget that brought the weapons of mass destruction down on our people.”
Princeton Professor Cornel West pointed to the Capitol building behind him and said that “legalized bribery and normalized corruption is what goes on in there.”
Nation of Islam Southwest Regional Minister Robert Muhammad claimed that the rescue helicopters in New Orleans passed over black people on rooftops to save white people.
Chokwe Lumumba of the New Afrikan People’s Organization claimed that “our slave masters” controlled all the rescue equipment.