The Green Line Metro train was packed Saturday with people coming from the Millions More Movement, including Lauren Monaco, a 28-year-old District resident who was sharing her iPod with James Knight, a 38-year-old man from Columbia.
Although Monaco is white and Knight is black, the two had more in common than the earphone of an iPod.
"I think that the Millions More Movement is a beautiful thing," said Monaco, who met Knight through a mutual friend at the march. "Anytime a person wants to make their voices heard and makes steps to change the government, [this] is what our government is all about."
Knight, who attended the Million Man March, felt compelled to participate again a decade later. "This is the evolution of what actually was started 10 years ago," he said. "As America is changing, it is not just about black and white. As we saw with Hurricane Katrina, devastation knows no race. We have to come together as Americans."
Ronald Walters, professor of African American studies at the University of Maryland, said, "This is a very symbolic commemoration of the 1995 march. What will be different than '95 is that we must provide the resources for the planning and implementation of the idea and issues raised during the march."
While the Rev. Willie F. Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church in Anacostia and national executive director of the Millions More Movement, wants to turn the event into a movement, he also has the challenge of dealing with leaders of the gay community. They feel betrayed and disrespected by Wilson's decision to remove Keith Boykin, president of the National Black Justice Coalition, a black gay and lesbian civil rights organization, from the VIP section and the speakers list.
Wilson said that Boykin, a longtime District resident until recently, did not meet certain unspecified demands that would have allowed him to speak. Boykin charged that "Reverend Wilson has been an obstacle since we met with him" last week. "We wanted to focus on the positive stuff, but he was angry, he wouldn't shake our hands, he yelled and screamed at us throughout the whole meeting."
Boykin said it was Wilson, not Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, the organizer of the event, who opposed having Boykin speak. That decision raised concerns among African American leaders on the program, including hip-hop executive Russell Simmons and the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson.
"The issue here is not spirituality. This is not a holy place. This is a political institution," Jackson said, referring to the U.S. Capitol, just behind the speakers' platform.
Standing under a tree listening to the speakers were Nation of Islam members Marvin and Deneen Muhammad of the District, who came to the event with their three children, ages 3, 4 and 10.
"It is important to come out in support of Minister Farrakhan and my husband," Deneen said. Marvin said he has been working with religious leaders in the District to launch programs that can help residents in a variety of ways.
"It is called the All Faiths Consortium," Marvin Muhammad said. "This goes beyond the Nation of Islam because we are inclusive of every member of the human family. Every religious sect and every faith tradition is invited to come and help us provide services for those who need it the most: low-income people, single mothers, ex-prisoners, homeless veterans and troubled youth. . . . We want to give a hand up and not necessarily a handout."
A decade ago, physician Abdul Alim Muhammad, who operates the Abundant Life Clinic in Northeast, was a key organizer of the Million Man March. Last week, he was in the background but still supportive of this year's event.
"The Million Man March was not some historical fluke that could not be duplicated," he said. "It is really up to us to do things for ourselves and organize in a self-sufficient manner."