When the sun rose over the steps of the U.S. Capitol as thousands of people gathered for the Millions More Movement in Washington, Elliott Rogers was home in Annapolis watching events unfold on C-SPAN.
The 41-year-old mortgage broker attended the Million Man March on Oct. 16, 1995, but he wasn't motivated to join the 10th anniversary celebration Saturday. Then something erupted in his heart as he watched the speakers on television.
"I wasn't feeling the excitement about the event, but then I watched Danny Bakewell [a Los Angeles businessman and march organizer], and I decided to go down to the Mall," Rogers said. He became one of the thousands who attended the event, which attracted many people from Maryland.
Ronald Walters, a professor of African American studies at the University of Maryland, called the event "a very symbolic commemoration of the 1995 march" but said the critical component will be follow-up.
"We must provide the resources for the planning and implementation of the ideas and issues raised during the march," Walters said.
From sunup to sundown, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and others spoke about poverty, education, health care and other social issues recently made more urgent by the devastation created by Hurricane Katrina.
"They are saying now that they don't want to even rebuild the Ninth Ward," said Farrakhan, an organizer of the event, referring to one of the hardest-hit areas of New Orleans. "Where will the people live? Don't worry about government! They won't do what they should do if we don't do what we must do!"
Farrakhan challenged those gathered to go home and enlist in some effort to make a difference in their communities: "We need a ministry of health and human services, we need a ministry of education . . . we need a ministry of arts and culture, we need a ministry of justice."
Also in attendance was George Haley, whose brother Alex Haley wrote the novel "Roots," the story of a slave named Kunta Kinte who arrived in Annapolis from Africa.
Haley said it was important to attend the Millions More Movement as part of African Americans' continued quest for freedom.
"I feel the need to do what is being done," Haley said. "I am optimistic about where we are going from here. I am also enthused about all of the young people coming together."