A Rallying Cry of “Justice or Else!” Marks the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March
By Nadia Felder
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Much different than the problem in 1995, the theme for the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March was “Justice or Else!” – A response to the plethora of police brutality and social injustices toward Black people today.
“This is not just a day, 10/10/15. Hell no,” said the controversial leader Minister Louis Farrakhan at the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March in D.C. “This is not a moment, this is a movement!”
Twenty years ago, the minister themed the march around “atonement, responsibility and reconciliation.” The initial march resulted in more than a million Black men registering to vote. Another difference that set a part the marches was the way Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, spoke about more than just injustices, but broadened the scope by touching on self-respect, abortion, and freedom.
The crowd went from standing still to a standing ovation, when the minster touched on how people should treat one another, especially speaking to Black women.
“No Black woman should call another Black woman a b*****,” said Farrakhan. “Get that word out of our language!”
Farrakhan mentioned how all women are blessings from God and should not be degraded by being entitled to a female dog.
While speaking on the subject of women, Farrakhan approached actions in abortion. Farrakhan shared with the audience how his mother tried to abort him three times, but was unsuccessful. Although the minister agreed that women had every right to do what they wanted with their bodies, he believed there are some things “of the Creator’s power,” we should not control.
“It would be so tragic if the next Martin Luther King (Jr.), Malcolm X, or Jesus was flushed away,” said Farrakhan in reference to women who advocate abortion. “You don’t know who your child is going to be.”
He made sure the crowd could hear him as he stressed that women should put nothing, or “no one” over the love of their children. To Farrakhan, children are our future and should be “nourished properly” to excel.
Another way to excel, according to the minister, is having “true” freedom, in which he believes can only come from being “fearless.” He told the audience that since he was a child, he knew not to be fearful of any man because of his “deep faith in the Superior.”
“So many people wonder why is Farrakhan so bold,” said Farrakhan. “It is because I am free from fear!”
He explained to the crowd, that the only way he was able to tell the FBI, the CIA, and the IRS “to go to hell” is because he has been shown by “the palm of God” how not to fear any man who “thinks he has power over Him.” Farrakhan used this illustration to encourage the crowd to rally against political injustices, even if it meant risking their lives.
“Our problem is that there is too much fear among us!” Farrakhan stated.
Later he told the crowd that if Black people would unite fearlessly, that they would no longer be the “minority,” but instead the majority.
Thousands of Black men, Black women and Black children gathered on Oct. 10 outside the Capitol, at the National Mall, to hear Farrakhan and other minority leaders speak.
Though Minister Farrakhan was not scheduled to speak until 1 p.m., people from all over the nation arrived early to get a good view of the keynote speaker. Some arrived before sunrise.
Attendees like Fatima Geidi, 30 and Nawja Ali, 27, who arrived in D.C. at 4 a.m. from East Village, NY. The ladies mentioned that even though they had been standing outside, in the cold, hours before minister Farrakhan spoke, they enjoyed every moment spent.
“The best thing about it is everyone is respecting everyone,” said Geidi. “All you hear is ‘Good morning my sister’ and ‘What’s going on my brother.’ Nothing but love here.”
Geidi was only 10 years old during the first march in 1995 and mentioned how back then she was too young to understand the cause. She later stated, “Now that I’m older and I’m living in the struggles of what the minister is saying, I understand how important the march really is.”
Almost every individual wore T-shirts with the words “Black Lives Matter!” or “Justice or Else!” or “I Can’t Breathe!” Many rallied with signs saying “No More Police Brutality!” or posters with the faces of Civil Rights leaders like MLK or Malcolm X. College students, attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), stood together during the march in their school’s paraphernalia.
Students like Florida A&M University (FAMU) alumnus Taj Muhammad, 30, of Tallahassee, wore his bright orange and green hoodie and mentioned how he attended the march to represent FAMU.
“I was born for this,” stated Muhammad. “I am proud of who I am and I’m glad I went to an HBCU to learn about stuff like this.”
Muhammad later mentioned how he was shocked when he heard that FAMU didn’t shuttle students to Washington for the march. He stated, “We (FAMU) should have been out here by the bus loads.”
Unlike the first rally, there wasn’t a lot of notice about the march. Yet without much notice, the National Mall, all the way to 3rd and Independence Street, was packed .
Meanwhile, special speakers like Trayvon Martins’s mother, Sybrina Fulton and Michael Brown’s parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., asked the crowd to honor the deaths of their children by demanding justice.
“We will not continue to stand by and say nothing anymore,” said Fulton.
Meanwhile, notable Hip-Hop artists like J Cole, Snoop Lion, Puff Daddy, Common and Russel Simmons also made appearances at the march.
For those who didn’t attend the march, there was a live broadcast online on the event’s website www.justiceorelse.com, making the movement as easily accessible as possible to everyone, everywhere. There was even a trending hashtag that went viral on social media, #MillionManMarch, in which speakers encouraged the crowd to use.