Monday, May 2, 2005

Amen. Columnist Julianne Malveaux took the words right out of my mouth.

“When Cora [Masters Barry] told me there was going to be a 10th anniversary of the Million Man March, I didn’t let her finish the sentence before I started fussing,” the fiery Ms. Malveaux said yesterday at the National Press Club.

I heard that, sista. My sentiments exactly for the possible replay of a million black men marching on the Mall sans their better halves, or the predominant sector of the battered population most affected by the policies and the promises for which the unprec-edented male-centered event was organized a decade ago.

Do we really have to go there again? Maybe not with the “Millions More Movement.” Although women were not invited to the 1995 rally, yours truly was not about to pass up the opportunity to be in the midst of a million beautiful black brothers. Indeed, it was a prideful day to remember and replicate, but with more concrete objectives and visible outcomes.

Then, as now, I could not understand how the male organizers — with the help of the sistas in the background, as always — thought they could tackle the pyramid of problems in the black community without the help of their sistas in the forefront or, at least, standing by their sides.

Ms. Malveaux and I were on the same page then, although we were skewered for our well-intended, constructive criticism of the Million Man March called by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Mr. Farrakhan is also the mastermind of the upcoming anniversary activities during the weekend of Oct. 14 to 16. Now, he’s touting “family unity” by bringing the disparate black groups, leaders, politicians, and most especially religions, together for the common good of “all oppressed people,” not only blacks.

That’s why Ms. Malveaux was shouting a more supportive tune about the family-centered 10th anniversary commemoration of the march, billed as the Millions More Movement, to be held on the Mall on Oct. 15.

“This time, Minister Farrakhan has brought us language which is unifying,” she said, to fight the “war on African-American people which is born out in the disparities and statistics. He’s evolved, our people have evolved, the movement has evolved, and we’re moving forward.”

Dorothy I. Height, the Rev. Barbara Skinner and Mrs. Barry, who read a statement from African Methodist Episcopal Church Bishop Vashti McKenzie, agreed with the unifying call. Mrs. McKenzie wrote of the need “to find our common ground” and “circle the wagons around our common enemy.”

“Let’s see what happens when the men [who were at the last march] join hands with the women who will be there and all come together as a whole family of God,” she stated.

Singer Erykah Badu disquieted the ballroom, filled with Muslim ministers and worshippers, when she said slowly, “I weep for my family because I know these tears of joy are the beginning of freedom of the slaves and the slave masters.”

Ms. Badu was scheduled to be the featured entertainer at a kickoff rally last night at the politically active, mega-member Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington.

“The masses of our people are slipping further behind,” was the staple reiterated by the Rev. Al Sharpton and every speaker during the 2-hour meeting that morphed into a fire-and-brimstone tent revival or a consoling black family reunion after a funeral for the masses who are on “a death march.”

To make improvements, the organizers plan to “bring together diverse segments of national and international communities to utilize the best minds available to create a viable framework for resolving critical concerns affecting the well-being of millions of men, women and children.”

“We’re reaching out to millions who carry the rich on their backs,” Mr. Farrakhan said during the program, which was carried by C-SPAN.

“I know there are those who will be glad that at last the ‘niggras’ have come together to solve their own problems,” he quipped.

Mr. Farrakhan offered thanks for the “the attack” on blacks because it “awakens us from sleep.”

“[God] brought us together across religions for a higher calling,” he said, that of “a new world order of righteous conduct and principled life.”

The Rev. Willie F. Wilson of Union Temple Baptist Church in Southeast, who is the national executive director of the commemoration, declared, “It’s not a march but a movement.”

“Marches, undeniably, served their purpose. But marches are not movements,” he said. “What we need is an ongoing, sustained, consistent, concerted, divinely inspired movement to uplift the poorest and most downtrodden among us.”

Asked whether appointing women to prominent roles is a belated acknowledgment of the failure of excluding women initially, Mr. Wilson said he advised Mr. Farrakhan that he could not support a program that did not include women.

They “cannot afford to leave women uninvolved, especially when the problems they are facing are as great as the men’s,” he added. “Blacks need to show a new paradigm of men and women working together on an equal basis.”

Amen. I think the bros, with the help of the sistas, finally got it.

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