- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 18, 2002

The Rev. Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, urged blacks yesterday to refuse to fight in a war against Iraq, telling them to focus on getting compensation for the legacy of slavery that ended 137 years ago.
"The president is getting ready to send black and brown and poor to fight somebody who never called us 'nigger,' " Mr. Farrakhan told a rally on the Mall in front of the Capitol. "What we have to do is fight for ourselves, and our fight is in America."
"It seems that America owes black people a lot for what we have endured. We cannot settle for some little jive token. We need millions of acres of land that black people can build."
"We're not begging white people. We are just demanding what is justly ours."
Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, also attended the rally of 4,000 or so persons, but others prominent in the black civil rights movement did not. The no-shows included the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
The crowd on the Mall could shop for T-shirts, hats and posters focusing on the reparations theme. A black "Kill Whitey" T-shirt went for $10 from the New Black Panther Party, which provided security for the event. Another T-shirt read: "How did we get to America? Heartless Christian Buyer, Ruthless Jewish seller."
Speakers told the crowd that slavery, although abolished with the end of the Civil War in 1865, left a legacy of suffering that still afflicts blacks. Radio personality Bev Smith warmed up the crowd welcoming "African people" and led with several chants of "black power."
The rally's keynote address was delivered by Mr. Farrakhan, who said the nation's blacks "cannot accept a cash payment because a fool and his money are soon parted. We need land as a basis of economic and political independence."
The rally with the motto "They owe us" was assembled with the help of dozens of reparations activist groups and drew people from several states. Many flew in, or rode buses and cars from Newark, Detroit, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
"I hustled and got here," said Clara Peoples, a longtime reparations advocate from Portland, Ore., who flew in. "We're not asking for equality," Miss Peoples said. "I just want them to pay a debt."
The demonstrators also showed their support for a proposal by Mr. Conyers, who since 1989 has sought to create a commission to study the effects of slavery.
But some said they disagree with the demand for reparations.
Jean-Marie Jean-Pierre, a quality assurance specialist at NASA and a black Haitian immigrant, said he doesn't approve of the idea of reparations. "I don't need them. I came here and I learned English and I got a good college education. This is the land of opportunity. Why does anybody need reparations?"

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