Today marks the 17th anniversary of the Million Man March — a historic event that brought Black men from all parts of the country to the National Mall in the spirit of tackling some of the Black community's most troubling issues.
Led by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who called for "a million sober, disciplined, committed, dedicated, inspired Black men to meet in Washington on a day of atonement," the march drew unprecedented support from African-Americans, some of whom did not agree with many of Farrakhan’s ideals, but who appreciated the spirit of the march.
The Nation of Islam commemorated the anniversary of the march with a weekend conference held in Charlotte, NC, where Farrakhan urged attendees to participate in the upcoming presidential election.
Since 1995, the concept of the march has been borrowed countless times by other movements and organizations, including the recent “Million Hoodie March” in support of Trayvon Martin and the Egyptian opposition’s call for a Million Man March held in Tahrir Square last August.
“We are standing in the place of those who couldn't make it here today. We are standing on the blood of our ancestors," Farrakhan said at the march in 1995. "We are standing on the blood of those who died in the middle passage, who died in the fields and swamps of America, who died hanging from trees in the South, who died in the cells of their jailers, who died on the highways and who died in the fratricidal conflict that rages within our community."
Although the focus was decidedly male, the program featured speakers such as Dorothy Height of the National Council for Negro Women, Betty Shabazz, wife of Malcolm X, and Maya Angelou. Civil rights legend Rosa Parks also attended the gathering.
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(Photo: Yoke Mc / Joacim Osterstam/Wiki Commons)