Twenty years ago, an estimated half-million black men gathered in Washington, D.C., at the Million Man March to protest what they perceived as social and economic inequality in America.
In his two-hour speech at the historic event, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan made headlines when he called for black empowerment and declared, “The [Great] Seal and the Constitution reflect the thinking of the Founding Fathers, that this was to be a nation by white people and for white people. Native Americans, blacks, and all other non-white people were to be the burden bearers for the real citizens of this nation.”
Two decades later, Farrakhan was back at the National Mall – this time hosting the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, with its chilling “Justice or Else” theme, on Oct. 10 in Washington, D.C.
So have the lives of black Americans improved since Farrakhan’s first Million Man March in 1995?
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder of the Los Angeles-based Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, or BOND, and an exclusive WND columnist, took to the streets of South Central Los Angeles to ask black Americans that very question.
Watch Jesse Lee Peterson’s interviews:
“There are so many people that are struggling financially on the lower end, I’m not sure we can say definitely that it’s made a grand improvement,” said one man.
“We have a black president, so, I mean, that’s a big change,” said a woman.
“You think that’s a result of the march?” Peterson asked her.
“It could possibly be,” she replied
An elderly gentleman and another man in his twenties both said they don’t believe the situation has improved.
“It’s worse,” said another women, “just to keep seeing all this mess that’s going around – shooting up folks.”
Then Peterson asked: “Farrakhan called for 10,000 black men to stalk and kill police and white people. How do you feel about this?”
As WND reported, Farrakhan preached directly from the Quran before a packed Baptist church in August, and he told his adoring audience that violent retaliation is the only way for American blacks to “rise up” and overthrow their oppressors. Farrakhan made the comments at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Miami, where he referred to a “400-year-old enemy,” which most took to mean white people.
“I’m looking for ten thousand in the midst of the million. Ten thousand men who say, ‘Death is sweeter than continued life under tyranny,'” Farrakhan told the congregants.
Watch the clip of Farrakhan’s sermon to the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Miami:
He then launched into a poetic tirade against whites backed up with Quranic verse.
“Death is sweeter than to continue to live and bury our children, while white folks give the killer hamburgers.
“Death is sweeter, than watching us slaughter each other, to the joy of a 400-year-old enemy. Yes, death is sweeter.
“The Quran teaches persecution is worse than slaughter. Then it says, ‘Retaliation is prescribed in matters of the slain.’ Retaliation is a prescription from God, to calm the breast of those whose children have been slain.
“So if the federal government will not intercede in our affairs, then we must rise up and kill those who kill us. Stalk them and kill them and let them feel the pain of death that we are feeling.”
The crowd responded with a standing ovation as the 82-year-old Muslim preacher bathed in the moment.
But when Peterson asked black Americans in Los Angeles what they thought of the calls for 10,000 black men to stalk and kill people, reactions included the following:
- “I think that is absolutely wrong, to take somebody’s life.”
- “I disagree with it because God calls us to love all people, and we need to work this thing out together.”
- “C’mon now, that’s ridiculous.”
- “I think he just has a lot of personal problems.”
- “It’s not a good idea, because [it’ll] just create more violence.”
- “It’s a bad idea. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
- “I don’t approve of stalking and killing anybody.”
- “F— these cops. I don’t think it’s OK [to stalk and kill cops] because nothing is going to get resolved like that. But I feel like these cops is nothing but full of s—. They don’t give a f— about human rights.”
Asked whether they believe Farrakhan’s apparent call for violence would help young black people, the Los Angelites replied:
- “I think it would hurt everyone.”
- “But it’s unfortunately those who are kind of disenfranchised [who find it] easy to listen to stuff like he’s saying. You look for a quick solution or an agitated solution to things when you get frustrated.”
- “I think that’s not a proper statement to make. But I believe in Farrakhan’s program of helping black people helping themselves.
Peterson then asked: “What do you think it would take to make black Americans successful and happy?”
- “You have to be responsible and take the initiative to want to be successful.”
- “Being one with each other.”
- “It’s important to at least have some goals in mind, so you know, if you’ve reached a goal, you have something to be proud of.”
- “Having a mother and a father there to rear the children to be godly and to come up in a respectable and honorable way.”
- “More black entrepreneurship and more self-help. … That’s the only way it’s going to improve.”
Peterson notes that most of his interview subjects condemned hatred and violence toward others, including white police officers and white Americans.
“What I saw from the rally 20 years later is more hate, blame and victimhood – blaming someone else for their lack of success in life,” Peterson said of the 20th anniversary march in D.C.
“And it’s just more hate toward white folks, when white Americans have nothing to do with the destruction of black Americans today,” he said. “It’s time for black Americans to take their lives back, overcome the anger [and] treat their neighbors in a way that they would treat themselves and their families.”
Peterson said black Americans must focus on maintaining health family lives by marrying and raising educated children.
“Where are the black churches on this?” he asked. “Louis Farrakhan used the names Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr. to encourage Christians and others to join his evil organization. Yet there’s no outcry from the churches about this at all. Had the KKK done the same thing, there would be a major outcry in America today.”
Peterson rejected the “evil” in Farrakhan’s message: “It’s time to stand up against evil, no matter what color the person might be.”