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The healing begins

By Jesse Muhammad
Staff Writer | Last updated: Jul 12, 2006 - 10:55:00 PM

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Millions More Movement calls for the protection of our women

Demonstrators participating in the Millions More Movement March Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault rally march through the streets of Houston, Texas July 1. Photos: Kenneth Muhammad

HOUSTON ( - The energy of unity, love, empowerment, atonement and enlightenment was in the atmosphere as hundreds packed Windsor Village United Methodist Church for the Millions More Movement March Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault on July 1, the opening day of the Essence Music Festival.

Min. Deric Muhammad

With the theme “From Hurt to Healing: Protecting the Essence of Our Sisters,” the Planning and Execution Committee of the Ministry of Justice designed a rally and march unprecedented in the city. How so? Because it was organized chiefly by men for women, who were given an opportunity to express their hurt and the means by which the healing could begin. The rally’s opening remarks were delivered by lead organizer Deric Muhammad, who also serves as the Local Ministry of Justice spokesman, which were followed by the pouring of libations by Kofi Taharka of the National Black United Front. Anxious to turn the program over to the Sisters, Bro. Deric then quickly introduced key male leaders in attendance who all came forth to share brief words of support.

“Any one who does not love Black women does not love himself,” stressed Congressman Al Green (TX-9), who was instrumental in having a congressional bill passed last year to fight domestic violence.

Councilmember Jarvis Johnson (District B) called on all men to start taking charge. “We must patrol ourselves and take a stronger stand for our women.” As he spoke, others stood with blown-up composite sketches of a sexual predator that he and others are working to get off of the streets.

(top) Nation of Islam Southwest Regional Minister Robert Muhammad ignites the men who came out in droves to support the women participating in the rally. (bottom) Marchers drew cheers from residents in nearby apartment complexes and passersby, who showed them their support and appreciation for the demonstration.

Nation of Islam Southwest Regional Minister Robert Muhammad would bring the men’s portion of the rally to a close with electrifying points. “We have to stop saying expressions such as ‘A nation can rise to higher than its woman’ as if they are cliques and start growing it beyond that. Our women are the cornerstone of our civilization and we can’t go anywhere without them.” Joining them on stage were Mtangalizi Sanyika, Councilmember Peter Brown, and renowned poet Equality, who recited a heart-felt poem in honor of women that brought the audience to their feet.

Ruqayya Muhammad, executive director of ACTION CDC, stepped forward to emcee the rest of the rally, educating the audience by reading alarming statistics related domestic violence, sexual assault, molestation and other challenges that abort the rise of women throughout the country.

“We need to recognize the importance of women because all great men came from the womb of women”, said Sister Victoria of the S.I.S.T.A.S. Support Group, who came in large numbers as a sponsor of the event. “We first must change the condition of our minds in order to change the condition of our lives.”

Mavis Jackson, a survivor of domestic violence and abuse, expressed joy to be apart of the solution. “For every problem there is a solution and this event is the beginning of the solution. We have to support good causes.”

The lights were dimmed and African drums begin to play as Mellissa Thibodeaux performed a one-woman skit that took the audience on a mental journey about the pain of Black women, which brought passionate tears to many and a well deserved standing ovation. The morning rally was then topped off by the powerful keynote address of Sister Dora Muhammad, Managing Editor of The Final Call newspaper.

“There is a difference between surviving and healing. Allah (God) wants us to protect and love women,” stated Sis. Dora, who is the author of “Sajdah: A Young Woman’s Atonement,” which chronicles her journey to healing.

Dora Muhammad, Final Call Managing Editor

“Allah (God) has always stood behind protecting the essence of women,” she stated, walking the audience through the pages of the Holy Qur’an and Bible to prove God’s outlook on the importance of women in scripture. “Prophet Muhammad brought balance to a society who treated women unjustly. To understand the process of our pain is to understand the process of our healing. It is hard work to heal but it is possible,” she said.

At the conclusion of the rally, everyone gathered outside of the church to march towards the Reliant Center. With all of the women lined in the front as men were stationed behind them in support, a police escort led the ever-growing march down Westridge Street to symbolically go from the point of “Hurt” to the point of “Healing.”

With huge signs reading “Stop Domestic Violence” and “End Sexual Assault,” the marchers drew cheers from residents in nearby apartment complexes. Drivers blew their horns in support as heavy traffic built up at the corner of Kirby and Westridge due to the outpouring of love for the demonstration. Once the marchers reached the entrance of the Essence Festival, all of the men lined up on both sides of the door to cast thousands of rose petals at the feet of the Sisters. Organizers stated that the rose petals represented atonement for the hurt that men have caused their women.

After all of the marching women crossed the rose petals with joy, the men stayed at the door for another hour to give honor to hundreds of Black women who were in town to attend the music festival. Many women cried, clapped, smiled, danced and were surprised to see the love exhibited by these men for them. Supporters of the event also included Susan Taylor, editorial director of Essence magazine, who personally called the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan to tell him how wonderful it was to see men taking a stand on such an important issue. Other supporters included media sponsor Houston Style magazine, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, Sadia Evangalista, Audrey Muhammad of Virtue magazine, 432 Fahrenheit, Ivey League Clothing, Med-Health Home Healthcare, Nena Akbar of America’s Next Top Model Show, South Texas Wellness Center and countless women’s shelters.

“We are still receiving calls and emails from those who were inspired by the idea of men organizing against the abuse of women,” stated Bro. Deric. “The smiles on the Sisters’ faces and the energy of the spirit of the march only refueled us to do more.”

(Follow-up events include two town hall meetings: On July 17, Councilmember Johnson will host a forum addressing the subject of rape, while on July 25, the subject of how to avoid and recognize sexual assault will take place at the SHAPE Community Center.)