The formation and unity among men that took place on October 16, 1995 was an unforgettable moment that not only shook the world but left so many filled with hope, courage and most importantly love. Minister Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam leader called for all able-bodied African American men to meet at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. to rally in one of the largest demonstrations in history. The gathering which estimated 900,000 surpassed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s. “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.
While the message was misread by countless news outlets, Farrakhan’s intent and purpose of the gathering was a call to address the plight of black communities and a call for unity and revitalization of the African American community.
Benjamin Chavis, Jesse Jackson, Rosa Parks, Dick Gregory offered words and Stevie Wonder entertained those in attendance. Maya Angelou shared poetry to offer advice to men using the message of bringing the spirit of God back into your lives and encouraging all to register to vote.
The day was epic even for myself as a then 16-year old girl living in a very different Harlem, NYC at the time. Growing through all the chaos around me, the march and the speeches that day affected me in a positive way. While he spoke on white supremacy, hostility between the people and all races fighting against one another—it was the pledge that stood out as men held hands, cried and hugged expressing themselves freely.
Farrakhan led all in attendance to take a public pledge to support their families, refrain from violence and physical or verbal abuse toward women and children, and renounce violence against other men “except in self-defense.” They also pledged abstinence from drugs or alcohol and to concentrate their efforts on building black businesses and social and cultural institutions in the communities where they lived. All were commanded to go home and implement these new standards.
While the video below can’t capture the emotion, energy or togetherness felt on that day, watch the message Minister Louis Farrakhan gave on that iconic day.
video courtesy: www.noi.org