A couple hundred “people who influence people” gathered to listen to Minister Louis Farrakhan in a closed-door meeting Friday, June 5, at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building. There, the leader of the Nation of Islam announced a major October 2015 gathering in Washington, D.C.
“The theme of the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March is ‘Justice or Else!’” he declared. “And ‘or else’ is more important because without an ‘or else,’ justice is just talk.”
He prefaced his comment by stating that “the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, which is not a march at all. Marching is not what we need today; we need supreme organization.”
Permanently on-the-ground community activists were joined by clergy, City Council members, congressional representatives, educators, media personalities and a host of on-post Fruit of Islam members and other members of the NOI from Chicago and the tristate area.
“The theme of ‘justice or else’ says if we are denied what rightfully belongs to us, there has to be unified action that we take that will force the justice that we seek,” the 82-year-old head of the NOI noted. “We can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again. The time demands something more than good preaching … faith without works is dead.”
As he spoke, Farrakhan did his usual analysis of a Black community under siege from institutionalized economic,
social and political racism. He delved into how that destructive tool has systematically broken down many crucial areas in the Black community, from education to a revolving-door criminal justice system, to a purposefully induced inner-city crime rate, which is underwritten by a burgeoning militarized police force, with many having killing and incarceration as their motivation.
Farrakhan switched effortlessly between the Bible and the Quran as he stressed the need for a spiritual cohesiveness on the path to a unified approach to combat the scourges of police brutality and inner-city violence aided and abetted by compromised national and local leadership—both in government and in the religious arena.
He spoke of the goals and impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and mentioned the impact of Malcolm X.
“We have to make demands for justice, and if demands are not met, we have to put power behind those demands to force our oppressors to give us what we deserve,” he said.
The room was filled with educators, medical professionals and community political and religious activists who had been inspired by the 1995 Million Man March, which had the theme “Atonement, Reconciliation and Responsibility.”
Youth and family community groups represented included A.T. Mitchell and his Man Up! Inc., Erica Ford and her Life Camp, Chris Foye and his Chris Shakim Owens Foundation, Tamika Mallory and the Justice League NYC and the Feurtado Brothers and their King of Kings Foundation.
Political leaders in attendance included Assemblyman Charles Barron, Rep. Yvette Clarke and her mother Dr. Una Clarke and Council Members Jumaane Williams and Andy King. Also present were family members of police brutality victims: William Bell, father of Sean Bell, and Esaw and Emerald Garner, wife and daughter of Eric Garner. Among other notables were broadcasters Bob Law and Marc Lamont Hill, Dr. James McIntosh, co-founder of the Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People and hip-hop pioneer Kool Herc.
“I am here to ask for your help,” Farrakhan said to those in attendance for the Leadership Meeting. “We have come to a very difficult time in our history, but it is a time where things just come together to make for some a perfect storm—but for others a historic watershed moment that pushes us forward at a tremendous pace.
“We are 50 years from Dr. King. We are 50 years from Selma. We are 52 years now from the historic first march on Washington and we’re still saying the same thing: ‘justice and jobs.’ Even in the ’40s, ‘justice and jobs,’ and here we are 2015, ‘justice and jobs.’”
The minister continued, “Barack Obama is the first Black president, but can any man rise above the condition of his people?” He answered his own question: “When the president opened a Twitter account, the first response he got was ‘nigger, nigger, nigger.’ The president’s wife and children were vilely insulted in the same way, so Mr. Obama cannot escape though he lives in the White House. Whites like to use talented Blacks to further white interests, but when Blacks decide to use their talents for themselves, their families and their people, the Blacks become dangerous.”
Farrakan reiterated that anything short of the pursuit of real justice is meaningless. “We have fought in all the wars only to come back to tyranny, oppression and injustice,” he said. “And in every generation, our children, our fathers, our grandfathers fought the same enemy. There has to be some serious thinking in us about what justice really is. Justice, the law that distinguishes between right and wrong. … How could you watch Trayvon Martin? How could you watch the brother Kendrick [Johnson], his body all of a sudden is wrapped up in a mat? … A gifted and strong young man dead and his insides stuffed with newspaper … and his organs gone because his organs are more valuable than he is. So Black and Brown people are good for their body parts, but not good enough to receive justice.”
As people spilled out into the warm June evening, post-meeting meetings were held on the plaza outside the State Office Building.
“We will be in D.C. with our young people,” said Trenton activist Divine Allah, “because we have to continue to organize as we have been doing to protect our communities and advance our people. There are so many organizations nationwide who have long committed to addressing the negative influences and building up the productive programs and agendas. We can help each other build.”
On the East Coast leg of his national tour, which included Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, Farrakhan also spoke at the Islamic Cultural Center on 97th Street in Manhattan Saturday.
For more information, log on to millionsforjustice.org.