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Million Man March

The Million Man March, Washington, D.C., October 1995

The Million Man March was a gathering en masse of African-American men in Washington, DC on October 16, 1995. Called by Benjamin Chavis, Jr. served as National Director of the Million Man March.

The committee invited many prominent speakers to address the audience, and African American men from across the United States converged in Washington to “convey to the world a vastly different picture of the Black male”[1] and to unite in self-help and self-defense against economic and social ills plaguing the African American community.

The march took place in the context of a larger

  • CNN - Million Man March - Oct. 16, 1995
  • Smithsonian Institution photographs
  • Boston University Press Release (adapted from) - Oct. 27, 1997(sic)
  • NPR Interviews: Louis Farrakhan and the Million Man March
  • Million Man March 10 Anniversary
  • Path to "Visible Glory": The Million Man March In The Redmond Collection—A digital exhibit of photographs, audio files, manuscripts, and ephemera relating to the 1995 Million Man March, from the Eugene B. Redmond Collection at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's Lovejoy Library.

External links

Further reading

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  6. ^ a b BU Remote Sensing Million Man March page
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  27. ^ Leef Smith, Wendy Melillo. If It's Crowd Size You Want, Park Service Says Count It Out; Congress Told Agency to Stop, Official Says Washington Post: Oct 13, 1996. pg. A.34
  28. ^ . Note: The Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 1997 (H.R. 3662), was incorporated into the , at 110 STAT. 3009-181.
  29. ^ Amana, Harry. "Million Man March's Success: Media Misses the Real Story, Focuses on Controversy." Black Issues in Higher Education 12.18 (1995): 40-. ProQuest. Web. 26 Apr. 2013.
  30. ^ Yancy, George. "Analyzing the rift between Farrakhan and Jews: Jews should Recognize Farrakhan as a Legitimate Black Leader." Philadelphia Tribune: 6. Nov 28 1995. ProQuest. Web. 26 Apr. 2013
  31. ^ Smith, Vern E., and Steven Waldman. "Farrakhan on the March." Newsweek Oct 09 1995: 42-. ProQuest. Web. 26 Apr. 2013
  32. ^ Lacayo, Richard, and Sam Allis. "I, Too, Sing America. (Cover Story)." Time 146.18 (1995): 32. Academic Search Complete. Web. 26 Apr. 2013.
  33. ^ Wynn, Ron. "Million Man March should Unify rather than Divide African Americans." The Tennessee Tribune: 3. Sep 28 1995. ProQuest. Web. 26 Apr. 2013 .
  34. ^ Smith, Vern and Steven Waldman. “Farrakhan On The March.” Newsweek 126.15 (1995): 42. Web.
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See also

As a part of the Black Lives Matter activist movement, Louis Farrakhan announced his 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March: Justice or Else event, which was held on the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.[35]

20th anniversary

Feminists also had issue with the lack of female participation in the march that was labeled an “all male” event. “The entire purpose of this march is to encourage and stimulate black men to overcome apathy and resentment and start making a difference.”[33] Creating a separation in the movement became a topic of great controversy since it has been argued that, “Organizers excluded women from the march to send a two-part message” that men need to improve their character and women need to recognize their place “in the home.” [34]


Farrakhan may have organized the march to “simply prove that he was the man who could make it happen; he would then capitalize on the prominence he hoped it would confer.”[32]

Minister Louis Farrakhan stirred up religious controversy among the Christian and the Jewish communities. The great majority of controversy lies with Louis Farrakhan and the presence of many Christian speakers and organizers. He had acquired unfavorable attention from African American Christians and was compared to "Adolf Hitler” by the Jewish community by using anti-Jewish rhetoric and views.[29] His supporters say that Farrakhan was “against those Jews who have sacrificed their deep moral-religious heritage for a set of values grounded in capitalist exploitation and oppression.”.[30] There emerged concern about Farrakhan’s hidden political agenda in registering black males to vote as non-affiliate or independent parties.[31]

Religious controversy

Controversy in the media

[28][27] After the Million Man March, the Park Police ceased making official crowd size estimates.

The Park Service never retracted its estimate,[24] and other academics have supported its lower figure.[26]

Three days after the march, Dr. Farouk El-Baz, director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University released a controversial estimate of 870,000 people with a margin of error of 25 percent, meaning that the crowd could have been as small as 655,000 or as large as 1.1 million.[25] They later revised that figure to 837,000 ±20% (669,600 to 1,004,400).[24]

Because of the name of the event, the number of attendees was a primary measure of its success and estimating the crowd size, always a contentious issue, reached new heights in bitterness.[24] March organizers estimated the crowd size at between 1.5 to 2 million people, but were incensed when the United States Park Police officially estimated the crowd size at 400,000. Farrakhan threatened to sue the National Park Service because of the low estimate from the Park Police.

Crowd size controversy

While male leaders took primary responsibility for planning and participating in the events in Washington, female leaders organized a parallel activity called the National Day of Absence.[22] In the spirit of unity and atonement, these leaders issued a call for all black people not in attendance at the March to recognize October 16, 1995 as a sacred day meant for self-reflection and spiritual reconciliation. All black Americans were encouraged to stay home from their work, school, athletic, entertainment activities and various other daily responsibilities on the Day of Absence. Instead of partaking in their usual routines, participants were instructed to gather at places of worship and to hold teach-ins at their homes in order to meditate on the role and responsibility of blacks in America.[23] Further, the day was intended to serve as an occasion for mass voter registration and contribution to the establishment of a Black Economic Development Fund.

Day of Absence

Notable speakers

The organizers of the event took steps to lift the march from a purely political level to a spiritual one, hoping to inspire attendees and honored guests to move beyond “articulation of black grievances”[17] to a state of spiritual healing. Speakers at the event structured their talks around three themes: atonement, reconciliation, and responsibility.[18] The Day of Atonement became a second name for the event and for some came to represent the motivation of the Million Man movement. In the words of one man who was in attendance, Marchers aimed at “being at one with ourselves, the Most High, and our people”.[19] Beyond the most basic call for atonement leaders of the March also called for reconciliation, or a state of harmony between members of the black community and their God.[14] Speakers called participants to “settle disputes, overcome conflicts, put aside grudges and hatreds” and unite in an effort to create a productive and supportive black community that fosters in each person the ability to “seek the good, find it, embrace it, and build on it.”[14] Finally, the leaders of the March challenged participants and their families at home to “expand [our] commitment to responsibility in personal conduct…and in obligations to the community”.[20]

Structure of speeches

IV. Atonement and Reconciliation

Mothers of the Struggle - Behold Thy Sons

Affirmation of Our Brothers

III. Affirmation/Responsibility

  • Rev. Wayne Gadie of the Emanuel Baptist Church, Malden, Massachusetts – Opening prayer
  • Dancers and drummers from the village of Kankoura, Burkina Faso
  • Greetings from the African Diaspora from the continent of Africa and the Caribbean
  • Greetings from Black American leaders such as Florida State University), Zachery McDaniels (National African American Leadership Summit)

II. Sankofa: Lessons from the past

  • Rev. H. Beecher Hicks of Washington, D.C. and Minister Rasul Muhammad – Masters of Ceremonies
  • Sheik Ahmed Tijani Ben-Omar of Accra, Ghana and Rev. Frederick Haynes, III from the Friendship West Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas - adhan and invocation[15]

I. Early Morning Glory

Although various organizations, charities, and vendors had booths and displays at the rally, the focal point of the day was the stage set up on the west front grounds of the United States Capitol building. The day's events were broken down into several sessions: Early Morning Glory (6 am-7:30am), Sankofa: Lessons from the Past Linkages to the Future (8 am–10:30 am), Affirmation/Responsibility (11 am–2 pm), and Atonement and Reconciliation (2:30 pm–4 pm).[15]


that would give the mass media positive imagery to broadcast. [14] In addition to their goal of fostering a spirit of support and self-sufficiency within the black community, organizers of the Million Man March also sought to use the event as a

Media portrayal

[11] Instead of providing young children with the means to succeed, they believed the government instead intervened in the lives of its black citizens through law enforcement and welfare programs that did little to improve the community’s circumstances.[10] insufficient prenatal care, inferior educational opportunities, and jobless parents.[10]

At the time of the march, African Americans faced unemployment rates nearly twice that of white Americans, a poverty rate of more than 40%, and a median family income that was about 58% of the median for white households. More than 11% of all black males were unemployed and for those aged 16 to 19, the number of unemployed had climbed to over 50%[8] Further, according to Reverend Jesse Jackson’s speech at the March, the United States House of Representatives had reduced funding to some of the programs that played an integral role in urban Americans’ lives. “The House of Representatives cut $1.1 billion from the nation’s poorest public schools,” and “cut $137 million from Head Start” effectively subtracting $5,000 from each classroom’s budget and cutting 45,000 preschoolers from a crucial early education program.[9]

[8] and blaming urban blacks for “domestic economic woes that threatened to produce record deficits, massive unemployment, and uncontrolled inflation.”[7] One of the primary motivating factors for the march was to place black issues back on the nation’s

Economic and social Factors


  • Economic and social Factors 1
  • Media portrayal 2
  • Program 3
    • I. Early Morning Glory 3.1
    • II. Sankofa: Lessons from the past 3.2
    • III. Affirmation/Responsibility 3.3
      • Affirmation of Our Brothers 3.3.1
      • Mothers of the Struggle - Behold Thy Sons 3.3.2
    • IV. Atonement and Reconciliation 3.4
  • Structure of speeches 4
    • Notable speakers 4.1
    • Day of Absence 4.2
  • Crowd size controversy 5
  • Controversy in the media 6
    • Religious controversy 6.1
    • Sexism 6.2
  • 20th anniversary 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11

[6] estimated the crowd size to be about 837,000 members, with a 20% margin of error.Boston University-funded researchers at ABC-TV After a heated exchange between leaders of the march and Park Service, [7] Two years after the march, the [4] Although the march won support and participation from a number of prominent African American leaders, its legacy is plagued by controversy over several issues. The leader of the march, Louis Farrakhan, is a highly contested figure whose biting commentary on race in America has led some to wonder whether the message of the march can successfully be disentangled from the controversial messenger.


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