Black Americans thronged the National Mall yesterday in an assemblage of mutual affirmation, demanding more of their nation and of themselves...
WASHINGTON — Black Americans thronged the National Mall yesterday in an assemblage of mutual affirmation, demanding more of their nation and of themselves.
“It’s nothing but black folks in love with each other from one end to the other,” said Jamil Muhammad, national spokesman for the Nation of Islam, gazing out from the podium on a perfect Indian-summer day following a week of rainy weather.
The Mall was not as thick with people or moment as the Million Man March, whose 10th anniversary this gathering commemorated. That march, the largest public coming together of African Americans in the nation’s history, stunned America with its sheer size and its air of bliss.
But yesterday’s crowd was ample enough to stretch, if loosely, the length and breadth of the Mall, giving the gathering the grandeur and scope of a successful occasion. Organized mostly below the radar of the national media, and with far smaller expectations, the event achieved the formidable goal of not being a letdown to those who made the trek.
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Proceeding with little of the advance controversy of 10 years ago — mostly over the leadership of Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, the main convener this time as last — the Millions More Movement also succeeded in presenting a more complete portrait of black America, and its leadership, in a united front.
“We have seen an unprecedented gathering of the leaders of black America coming together to speak with one voice,” Farrakhan declared. “The whole spectrum of black thought was represented on this stage … . This tells us that a new day is dawning in America.”
“If there is a million, or less, or more, the meaning of this day will be determined by what we do tomorrow to create a movement, a real movement among our people.”
The agenda was broad, ranging from reparations for slavery to the creation of a national black board of education, black control of the businesses that serve the black community and the creation of an independent black political movement.