On Saturday, October 10, 2015, the Nation of Islam, led by Minister Louis Farrakhan, hosted the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, DC. The rally, entitled “Justice or Else”, took place on the grounds of The National Mall on the steps of the United States Capital. The march drew hundreds of thousands of supporters and activists displaying signs and posters that read “Black Lives Matter”, “Stop Racism Now”, “Justice or Else” and “I Am Not a Thug”.
The program included speeches from community leaders, ministers and civil rights advocates. Farrakhan was the final speaker to take the stage and he addressed issues and matters that plague the African American community, as well as voiced his frustrations with political leaders, the educational system, and what he refers to as “rogue” police.
Minister Farrakhan criticized the United States government on their betrayal of indigenous people, black people, soldiers and the poor. “You play with the lives of poor people, indigenous people, black people, women”, said Farrakhan. “You’ve played with the lives of soldiers, who have given their lives on a foreign battlefield only to come home and be rejected and die while they’re waiting for treatment and service.”
Farrakhan went on to address the issue of human rights in America. He criticized President Obama for his remarks on human rights in a joint press conference with President Xi of China, regarding human rights in China. In the press conference, President Obama expressed, “I again affirmed America’s unwavering support for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people, including freedom of assembly and expression, freedom of the press and freedom of religion”, said Obama. “…and denying ethnic minorities equal treatment are all problematic, in our view, and actually prevent China and its people from realizing its full potential.” Farrakhan rebuked President Obama’s remarks regarding human rights and China and suggested that the President deal with the human rights issue in America. “I think, Mr. President, we ought to be quiet telling China, you got to straighten out your human rights…as though you don’t have no problem in America, these are problems here and these problems demand resolution and America don’t have the heart to do it.”
Farrakhan also discussed the state of the black community and the importance of blacks taking back their community. He tackled the issue of violence in urban communities and the matter of police killings in black neighborhoods. “We have to go into our community because our war is on two fronts, we got to stop the killing in the inner city and stop the killing of us from police wickedness.” There have been a number of police shootings involving unarmed black men, black Americans dying in police custody and civilians shooting and murdering black youths in the community. These deaths have triggered a global outcry that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.
There has also been a concern over the issue of corrupt officers working on the police force, specifically those working in predominantly African American neighborhoods. For instance, the shooting death of Walter Scott, by then officer Michael Slager, who shot and killed Scott during a routine traffic stop. Slager claimed that he and Scott got into a scuffle and Scott attempted to grab his taser, which justified him shooting Scott eight times in the back. However, video footage taken by an eye witness contradicted Slager’s claims and showed Scott running away from the officer and Slager shooting him to death.
During Farrakhan’s speech, he spoke about deceitful police officers working in black communities, specifically officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Farrakhan referred to such officers as “rogue” police and quoted Wilson from a previous interview, in which he stated that he has more fun working in the black community. “What’s fun about your work in the black community…see you profit from the drugs that’s going on, you profit from the prostitution, you profit from the drug trade, you do”, said Farrakhan. “You kill us and blame it on another gang, that’s the fun, but your days of having fun on our suffering is about to come to an end.” Wilson made similar claims as former Officer Michael Slager, claiming that he was in a struggle with Mike Brown right before the shooting. Wilson, however, was not indicted for the shooting death of Mike Brown.
Farrakhan ended his speech offering several solutions that he feels will help solve the problems that oppress the black community. Combined with rebuilding the black community, Farrakhan proposes that African Americans have to get out from under the educational system in the United States, which he feels is polluted with white supremacy. “We have to clean up our community and there’s no way we can make a good people and leave them under the educational system of white supremacy”, said Farrakhan. “We have to take over the educational system, cause the education that you’re receiving has not made you a good people or a better people, it made you a more willing tool or slave for your oppressor, that systems has to go in order for black people to be set free.” The black spending power in America was another topic on Farrakhan’s list for improving the African American community. Farrakhan discussed the trillion dollar buying power in the black community and reported that blacks spend over half their income during Christmas time. “Did you know that we spend almost half of the money that we take in in a year during Christmas. We have $1.1 to $1.3 trillion dollars and $400 billion of it is spent during the Christmas holidays.” Farrakhan recommended that black America take those funds that are spent during Christmas and invest those resources to purchase land and property.