WashingtoN—Hundreds and thousands of people from different parts of the country gathered together at the National Mall Saturday for the Justice or Else Rally to celebrate the anniversary of the Million Man March. On Oct. 16, 1995, Louis Farrakhan held the first march to call for unity among minorities to uplift the community.
“Twenty years ago, right here the honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan challenged us to go back to our communities and commit ourselves to be of service and begin to help heal black families and communities,“ said Dr. Leonard Dunston of the Black Leader Summit.
Farrakhan wanted to raise awareness of the social justice issues affecting the Black community; he saw the march as a way to unify people of different ethnic backgrounds. However, some of the speakers felt that there was still a lot to fight for even after 20 years.
“I am honored beyond words to be here in front of this hollowed building, in front of I do not know how many (people)…. I am not going to guess,” said Farrakhan during his speech. “I thank every single one of you all (who) have decided to answer the call to demand justice or else.”
Throughout the day at the National Mall, several people were unable to receive service on their phones because of the large amount of people there.
Alumnus Jordan Harvey traveled from Heisenberg, Pennsylvania, so he could be a part of history.
“The experience was beautiful and eye opening. The amount of people was mind blowing and the various types of people from all walks of life and different countries,” said Harvey. “The Million Man March will go down in history as a unification of minorities to work toward justice and equality in the 21st century.”
While at the peaceful rally, Harvey had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Umar Johnson, a psychologist who has been a guest panelist on CNN. He said meeting Johnson and being able to talk to him about HBCUs was not only an honor, but also a privilege.
“I’ve watched some of his interviews and teachings and I admire him for being well informed and knowledgeable of the history of African Americans and black lineage to the development of this world and today’s society.”
David Hughes first found out about the march in May and bought his plane ticket over the summer. The Houston native said it was amazing to see so many people of color at one central location.
During Farrakhan’s speech he said make sure that we don’t produce plantation Negros. Hughes saw that as something powerful and plans to take his message back to Texas.
“As a professor, I need to make sure that in my classes I’m not producing students who are plantation Negros,” said Hughes. “I need to make sure that my students are socially conscious and aware.”
Hughes is a health and human performance professor at Prairie View A&M University.
Los Angeles native Samantha Ojo recently relocated to Washington with some of her friends from the University of Southern California. She said they were really excited to be in the city for the 20th anniversary of the march.
“Even though I personally do not identify with the Nation of Islam, I wanted to be a part of history, “ said Ojo. “Overall I had a great experience and it was so inspiring to see people of color unifying for great causes centered around equality.”