As the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March approaches this fall, strategies continue to be formulated and plans solidified by District officials, leaders from the Nation of Islam, prominent black leaders and, now, the publishers of the black press.
On Friday, the men and women who own and operate over 100 black publications nationwide participated in an exclusive and historic conversation with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, who heads the Nation of Islam and also serves as the national convener of the upcoming march, “Justice or Else 10-10-15.”
Over 60 publishers and editors joined Farrakhan, National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin Chavis, NNPA Chairperson and Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes and Richard Muhammad, NNPA Region 3 president representing the Final Call.
When the first march occurred 20 years ago, the black press was instrumental in its success, getting out the word to blacks across the U.S. as October 1995 drew near.
Barnes said they will play a similar role again.
“We have our marching orders to tell the stories up to the date of the march and after,” said Barnes following the conclusion of the conference call. “It’s up to us to keep our communities informed and to empower them to carry on the vision that Minister Farrakhan has laid out.”
The black press, including The Washington Informer, will be reporting on the march as plans continue to unfold with ongoing dialogue from Farrakhan, who said the march must take place because of the precarious situation in which blacks now find themselves.
“The black race is not as strong as we could be or should be,” he said. “So, the struggle is on two fronts. We cannot go to Washington and appeal to the government to intercede so that black men and women receive justice in our courts but then leave our own communities in shambles with us killing one another. We have to take responsibility for our own communities and work together to rid the fratricidal conflict that we see all over America.”
Farrakhan served as the spark for the first Million Man March that brought hundreds of thousands of black men of all ages, economic backgrounds, religious affiliations and levels of education together on the National Mall. During Friday’s conference call, the minister answered questions posed by members of the NNPA, emphasizing the need for black America to take control of its own destiny through shared economic strategies and greater support of black businesses, families, civil rights organizations and religious institutions.
But he also criticized the policies of America that have led to the mass incarceration of black youth, failed public schools and colleges and generations of black families wallowing in poverty.
“The struggle cannot end on October 10, 2015,” Farrakhan said. “It will take on a new dimension of strength after the 10th. We should have a legislative agenda. We’re not asking — we’re demanding what’s rightfully ours. We built this country. The world is before us if we take our own foot out of the way.”
For more information on the march, visit justiceorelse.com. The full version of this story will appear in the next edition of The Washington Informer.