The Final Call Online Edition


WEB POSTED 10-05-2000



Countdown to D.C.!
Million Family March organizers hit home stretch

by Eric Ture Muhammad
and Askia Muhammad

WASHINGTON (—As planning for the Oct. 16 Million Family March enters the home stretch, 200 national march organizers met with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, convenor of the march, and a Congressional Black Caucus march task force kicked into high gear.

The representatives of Local and State Organizing Committees met with Min. Farrakhan at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel to give march progress reports and hear from the leader of the Nation of Islam.

"It is a great honor for me to be able to look into your faces and see the commitment that I see, to make this event not only significant in our family life, but significant in the life of this nation with a great potential significance throughout the globe," said Min. Farrakhan, who gave an inspiring vision for the march.

Prefacing his remarks with scripture, Min. Farrakhan said America’s present leadership lacks the vision to stop the country’s moral and spiritual ruin. They have also failed to realize the importance of family and its value to society, he added.

Min. Farrakhan is convening the gathering on the fifth anniversary of the Million Man March to call families back to God, highlight the need for strong families, and launch a movement that will have social and political consequences—especially as year 2000 presidential elections loom.

Working on march planning are local activists, religious leaders, professionals, politicians, media and entertainment giants.

Since its first meeting in August, the National Organizing Committee has more than doubled in size and enthusiasm.

"These meetings are like a homecoming week for me," commented Atlanta local organizing committee co-chair Leonard Kalonji Tate. "It is also very inspirational and competitive, because after hearing the progress around the nation, it makes us want to accomplish so much more," he said.

Aside from chartering buses, Mr. Tate said the Atlanta LOC has intensified its work around voter education, registration and getting the word out for the march.

The Million Family March, Inc., has produced a public policy agenda, which offers solutions to pressing issues, ranging from the need for greater moral and spiritual development, to economic strategies to resurrect urban areas. The National Agenda covers seven broad public policy categories.

Committee members came from across the country, from as far west as Colorado, as far south as Mississippi and all along the east coast.

Plotting travel plans and bus routes, getting endorsements from city and state governments, rallying civic organizations and labor groups, sponsoring voter registration drives, promoting march paraphernalia and distributing the National Agenda has kept organizers busy.

The national committee, which is predominantly Black, includes Native American, Asian and white participants, as part of Min. Farrakhan’s call for all families to join the march effort. He has noted that though Black, Latinos and Native Americans share a great amount of suffering, the family crisis cuts across racial and class lines.

God allowed Blacks to undergo enormous suffering as part of a special process, Min. Farrakhan said. "You have undergone what no member of the human family has ever undergone, but not without a purpose. It was the purpose of God that you be purified, cleansed and fit into the corner of that which is called the kingdom of God," he said.

"What I want on that Mall on that day is to give the world a picture of what the Kingdom of God looks like when people of all races, hues and colors under a universal government of peace can relate to each other as God intends."

"This was an extremely positive meeting and we are even more energized from hearing the reports of what others are doing around the country," said Faye Williams, co-chair of the Local Organizing Committee in Washington and president of Natural Health Options. According to preliminary transportation reports, an estimated 10,000 buses are expected to arrive between Oct. 14 and early morning Oct. 16.

"I think that the greater inspiration now is instead of involving just the men as in 1995, we are involving the entire human family. Min. Farrakhan’s explanation, as to why we are doing that, is just wonderful and very motivating to me. To see the Minister now calling for this all around the world to involve everyone, I think will get a great, positive response," she predicted.

With diversity across racial, class, theological and ideological lines, the march organizing committee has the potential "to transform the political system by practicing the principle of coalition building and by affirming a God-centered, spirit-filled, mass movement for social transformation and empowerment," added Min. Benjamin F. Muhammad, MFM national director.

"If we can convert the Million Family March into, potentially, a million-plus registered voters, not only the husband and wife involved, but (children) over 18 that participate, get them registered and get them to vote, it will be the creation of a strong, very strong, political participation-type force," said Rep. Earl Hilliard (D-Ala.), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus Million Family Task Force. One congressional staffer has been participating in planning meeting sessions since last October, and individual members are working directly with local organizers in their home districts.

Two days before the meeting with national organizers, Min. Farrakhan appeared at a private CBC gathering at the invitation of CBC Chair Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Rep. Hilliard. The Minister, accompanied by his wife Mother Khadijah, Supreme Captain Mustapha Farrakhan and Nation of Islam Chief of Protocol Claudette Marie Muhammad, also met privately with Rep. Hilliard.

The lawmakers will play a significant coordinating role, especially on the West Steps of the U.S. Capitol, where the Million Man March took place, Oct. 16, 1995. The CBC is helping with the planning and coordination of the Million Family March, with members scheduled to speak, and experts helping with planning, logistics and technical needs. In addition to the Capitol steps, this year’s march will feature two additional stages where programs will originate: at the Lincoln Memorial, and on the Ellipse, behind the White House.

The CBC is also involved in trying to get financial resources and sponsors for the various events that are associated with the march, according to Rep. Hilliard, who sees the gathering as "extremely important" to the year 2000 political strategy of CBC members. A successful march "would help us energize the voters in (our) districts. But more important than that, it will help us arouse an awareness of registering to vote," he explained.

The march takes place just three weeks before the general election in this country, and organizers will have deputy registrars throughout the crowd, so that those who are not registered to vote can get registered, if not in time for this election, for future elections, Mr. Hilliard said.

Min. Farrakhan has emphasized his goal goes beyond the short-term political issues involved in the upcoming election, and toward creating a powerful political "force."

"We must produce a popular force that is spiritual, that is moral, that is politically mature, and economically mature, so that it can become a tangible factor of power that can no longer be denied by those who manipulate power," the Muslim leader told national organizers.

"Because the real power is not with people we vote in. The real power is those that manipulate the people that we vote in. Unless we can deal with the manipulators in this country, we can forget about justice rolling down like a mighty stream and all that kind of talk. That will always be talk," he said.

"We can proclaim liberty, but it has to come from a force coming up from the people who are wise, who are mobilized, who are organized, who are politicized," Min. Farrakhan said.

Min. Farrakhan also held a working session with the MFM program committee, including National Council of Negro Women Chairman Emeritus Dorothy I. Height, Mrs. Cora Masters Barry and Rev. Barbara Skinner. That same day Min. Farrakhan and Min. Benjamin convened an additional working session with the technical and legal teams, before rushing to the airport to travel across country to join entertainers promoting the march in Los Angeles.



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