African-Americans mark 20th anniversary of Million Man March

Thousands of African Americans gather in Washington on 20th anniversary of Million Man March, calling for justice reforms and improved civil rights

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Crowds gather for a rally billed as "Justice or Else" to mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March on the National Mall in Washington October 10, 2015

Thousands of African-Americans from across the United States gathered at the National Mall in Washington on Saturday to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Million Man March.

The original March held on October 16, 1995 attracted almost 800,000 people wishing to improve their lives, families, and communities.  

During Saturday’s "Justice or Else" event, participants called for more action against social and economic inequality as well as the violence that affects black people in the US.

The rally came as dissatisfaction over racial inequality and unrest in society has been continuing to mount following the killing of Trayvon Martin who was fatally shot dead by a neighbourhood watch volunteer in Florida in 2013. Michael Brown who was killed by police in Ferguson in 2014 and Eric Garner who was suffocated by a police officer in New York last year.

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan speaks at a rally named Justice or Else to mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March on the National Mall in Washington October 10, 2015

The rally was spearheaded by the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan who was also among the participants of the 1965 Million Man March.

Farrakhan told the crowd, "If we are denied what is rightfully due to us, then there has to be unified action that we take that will force the justice that we seek."

"There must come a time when we say, enough is enough. It must change, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to bring about that change."

However, he also criticised his community, saying, "The evil that is in our community produced by us cannot be overlooked as we challenge our government for justice. We cannot pass by the killings, abuse and rapes, robberies and crimes we commit on one another and focus on the government as though we have done what needs to be done in our own backyard."

Nate Smith of Oakland, California, also attended the event and said,“It’s something that I need to do.”

“It’s like a pilgrimage for me, and something I think all black people need to do,” he added.

According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the rate at which African-Americans living in the US are arrested has declined slightly since 1993. However, they remain six times more likely to be detained than white people, in addition to facing harsher sentences.


TRTWorld and agencies