Million Man March: Assessing the “Justice or Else” Rally

The people marched for Walter Scott, Sam DuBose. Rekia Boyd, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Jonathan Ferrell, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and other countless victims of police brutality and racist violence.

We are sick and tired of the police killing unarmed black people. We are sick and tired of the courts allowing the killers to strut free. Enough is enough. That is why hundreds of thousands of people came to Washington.  The March sent a powerful message to police departments, mayors, governors and other elected officials all around this nation. We are out of patience. We are not going to take it anymore. The Justice or Else March was a beautiful display of righteous indignation decorated with fiery speeches and moving songs.

No one personifies that rage more eloquently than Minister Louis Farrakhan. The success of March is clear indication that his message resonates with the masses. It is a living testimony to Farrakhan’s prowess as a leader. Unlike many other black leaders, he does not have to tone down his message to appease corporate donors and white liberal supporters. He is not beholden to the Democrats or the Republicans. He is a free black man.  He is manhood. He is courage. He is unafraid of the establishment. He speaks boldly and powerfully without wavering and without hesitation. Despite our ideological, theological and political differences, that is why we support brother Farrakhan. He speaks to our anger and frustration. He forcefully condemns the system that has failed us.

Anger is a commanding mobilizing tool. However, anger alone is not an effective organizing tool. Organization must be focused and results oriented. Like the Million Man March 20 years ago, the Justice or Else March had no legislative agenda. The brother gathered hundreds of thousands of black people to Nation’s Capital during a Presidential election and presented no legislative agenda. Unfortunately, the March squandered a good opportunity to do so.

During his speech, Minister Farrakhan expressed a deep-seated pessimism toward the Congress. He understandably questioned the federal government’s ability to render justice and affect change. The minister made antiquated and fantastical calls for separatism. He compared the federal government to the pharaoh in the Bible and spoke of the need for a black exodus. Although that language is pleasing to the ears of the outraged, it is not a practical, probable or immediate solution to our current problems.

Our sweat, our blood, our tears, our history and our very lives are interwoven into the fabric of America. We are not going to any imaginary black utopia. Instead running away to some mystic black fantasy island, let’s seize control over the communities and cities under our feet. In words of Malcolm, we must control the politics and the economy of our communities. Despite the continuing problems of police brutality and racism, this is a different era. We have many black mayors, city council members, state representatives, Congress members and black Senators. Today, the pharaoh is not some evil “white devil.” He is a moderate black man with a Muslim name. Whether one is willing to acknowledge it or not, that black pharaoh has helped pass laws that benefit black people. Maybe not as forcefully as we would like, that black pharaoh has spoken out against police brutality.

justice-or-else-million-man-marchU.S. Representative Danny K. Davis, a black man, helped pass a resolution allowing the Nation of Islam to hold the Justice or Else March. Why not work with that same congressman to pass the Federal End Racial Profiling Act and other laws to designed to combat police brutality? As a result of mass mobilization, organization and vigilant struggle, the Congress that passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act and many other laws that ended Jim Crow in this country. Such laws brought about substantial progress and change in this country. Why not pressure Congress today? With proper organization, we will have the ability to affect change.

Hopefully, the organizers of the Justice or Else March will develop and/or embrace a modern day legislative agenda to address our modern day problems. Perhaps, Farrakhan did that when he met with black professionals after the March. After the agenda has been formulated, it must be pushed and passed. Otherwise, like a rock concert or circus, the March will have been just another feel good moment, producing absolutely nothing of substance. We do not need good moments. We need change.

We must end police brutality and racial profiling. Otherwise, there will be more Fergusons and more Baltimores. As one of the speakers said at the March, Ferguson will be “or Else.”


[Originally posted at New Posibilities]