I'm Steve Ember with IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
Last Saturday, thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C., to observe the tenth anniversary of the Million Man March. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan organized the event, known as the Millions More Movement. It came ten years after the Million Man March of nineteen ninety five. The Million Man March called on black men to take responsibility for improving their families and their communities.
Organizers said the Millions More Movement aims to build on the ideas and goals of the march ten years ago. The movement is also a call for change locally and nationally.
Only black men were invited to attend the march ten years ago. But all were welcome this time.
The program took place on the steps of the United States Capitol. The crowd heard speeches and music from the young and old, artists and entertainers, educators and politicians. They called for unity, political power and economic development.
Among the most notable were civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, former presidential candidate Al Sharpton and hip-hop music businessman Russell Simmons.
Minister Farrakhan spoke at the end of the event. He said he believed a national movement of black people is being built:
LOUIS FARRAKHAN: “We have seen an unprecedented number of black leaders or organizations coming together to speak to America and the world with one voice. This has never happened before in our history.”
Minister Farrakhan presented ways to strengthen the black community. He gave possible solutions to some of the issues discussed by those before him. He warned that the real work begins after the day’s event.
He called for the black community to join forces with other groups across the country and around the world, such as Native Americans, Hispanics, Africans and Americans who have similar life conditions.
Some of the strongest comments were made about the victims of hurricane Katrina that hit the southern Gulf Coast in August. The Bush administration has been widely criticized for what many say was a slow reaction after the disaster. Speaker after speaker denounced the federal government’s delayed action. They also criticized the way the media reported about the survivors, many of them African-American.
Mister Farrakhan said the response after the hurricane showed that blacks and the poor cannot depend on the government. He presented an action plan to begin the process of solving many of the problems facing the black and poor communities. The plan included the development of new ministries of health and human services, education, information and trade, among others.
Mister Farrakhan also denounced the economic and foreign policies of President Bush, and the Iraq war. He also criticized the Democratic Party for what he described as using and mistreating African-Americans. He suggested forming a new political party that would include the nation’s black, brown and poor people.
The minister closed by stating:
LOUIS FARRAKHAN: "United we can solve our problems and divided we have nothing."
Some critics have said blacks gained little after the first march and may even be worse off today. But others note that change is not easy and does not happen in a day. They say a movement offers an important opportunity to unite and work for change.
IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English was written by Cynthia Kirk. Our reports are online at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.