In 1995, Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan called for African American men to come to Washington and pledge to be better husbands, fathers and leaders in their communities. Men and women of all races and faiths were invited this year to the 20th anniversary reprise Saturday, themed “Justice or Else!” Here are local Christian and Muslim clergy members talking about the event:
The Rev. Benjamin F. Chavis, president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, was the national director of the Million Man March and is the national consultant for the Justice or Else rally.
As an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, faith in God is primary. There is only one God, and whether you are Christian, Muslim or Jewish, we all worship the same God. This event is important for people of all faiths on the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. The cry for justice is universal. The cry for justice is not confined to one race. My whole life’s effort has been dedicated to helping people to be one with God.
Missy Daniels, associate minister of the Metropolitan Baptist Church, was not invited to attend the Million Man March 20 years ago, but she supported the effort. She will not be at Saturday’s event, but she continues to support the cause.
I didn’t go 20 years ago because I feel like it is important for African American men to talk among themselves regarding certain issues and challenges facing them. In terms of the Justice or Else rally, I will be out of town, but I do plan to be on the Mall this coming Monday for the Washington Prayer Gathering. It is important for people of all faiths to come together, considering everything that is happening in this country.
The Rev. Grainger Browning, pastor of Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, Md., took 300 men to the march 20 years ago and is returning with a smaller group Saturday.
The Million Man March along with the March on Washington were the two most monumental marches in African American history and . . . this event is something that not only has historic meaning but it is timely with all that is going on in this country today: shootings, the Black Lives Matter movement. The younger generation is getting much more involved, and hopefully the march will affect this generation as it did the generation 20 years ago.
Terry Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, a diverse coalition of about 50 D.C. congregations that was created in the wake of the 1968 D.C. riots. Lynch was at the march 20 years ago but will not attend this year.
[The rally] is more important than ever in light of the police shootings, and the ongoing economic and other disparities make it imperative to work together, because in God’s eyes we all are created equal. The white community needs to be more engaged in so many ways so that we can be the country that we should be.
Imam Johari Abdul-Malik of Dar al-Hijrah in Falls Church didn’t attend the Million Man March 20 years ago because he was concerned about Farrakhan’s rhetoric calling white people “devils,” but he is coming Saturday with other Muslims from his mosque.
Twenty years ago, many people were conflicted. Was the Million Man March an endorsement of the Nation of Islam, or was it bigger than that? [But it] became significant in that 20 years ago, people who were not working together came together around the discussion of black men being upright, taking care of their families and atoning for their past neglect of themselves and their families.
In that movement, they created relationships with other organizations and with other men. Men who bonded that day and those organizations continued to work together long after the Million Man March was over. Twenty years later, it just happens that the stars have realigned and you have just before the 20th anniversary, the Black Lives Matter movement, which taps into violence against black men all across America.