By Maynard Eaton
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Minister Louis Farrakhan, the controversial and charismatic Nation of Islam leader, defied the naysayers and a traditional media blackout to bring hundreds of thousands, if not a million, to Washington D.C. this past weekend.
It was dubbed a Justice or Else! Rally to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March.
This time, however, it was women, families and a rainbow of minorities that gathered to protest a litany of injustices and societal problems for what organizers repeatedly said was “not a moment but a movement.”
Farrakhan’s next stop for his Justice or Else Movement is Atlanta. He has called for 25,000 to march on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] to protest the use of thiomersal, a controversial mercury-based preservative used in flu vaccines and given to millions of children. Vaccines reportedly account for $25 billion in annual sales.
Farrakhan, arguably America’s most popular and perhaps most powerful black spiritual leader, will be joined at the October 24th demonstration by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and prominent Atlanta religious leader Dr. Gerald Durley. They each allege the vaccines have been engineered to destroy black youth.
“It is a silent killer that disproportionately impacts black children,” said Dr. Durley. “Our major goal is to have congressional hearings on this issue and put the pharmaceutical companies on Front Street.”
This Justice or Else rally was decidedly different from its predecessor 20 years ago primarily due to our new digital age. The massive gathering was largely ignored by the mainstream media, perhaps because of its aggressive and ominous rally call “Justice or Else.”
This event was fueled by social media that allowed the globe to participate, while preaching to the Millennials and the Hip Hop generation – the original message of unity in Black America.
In the wake of a number of police brutality incidents and the fight to end state violence in this nation, Farrakhan said the “Black Lives Matter” movement “represents future leadership” and urged Baby Boomers to pass the torch of leadership.
“I feel the cry of our ancestors,” Farrakhan said standing on the steps of the Capitol behind a bullet proof glass. “They are happy that a young generation has risen. What good are we if we don’t prepare young people to carry the torch of leadership and to walk in our footsteps? These young people are looking for fierce leadership, but leadership that cannot be bought.”
Political strategist Meredith Lilly, a young Atlanta mover and shaker, found it refreshing and revealing that women from a variety of ethnic groups were “such a huge part” of the rally. “I appreciated the fact that so many women, and particularly influential black women, were in the forefront,” she said.
Stanley Everage is a 41-year-old owner of an online broadcast operation called NBTV who says he was moved, inspired and enriched by the man he calls “the real leader of our people.”
“I didn’t see Malcolm X, and I didn’t see Martin King. Minister Farrakhan is our Malcolm and Martin,” Everage said. “He is the closest thing we are ever going to get to those two.”
While the only national civil rights leader to join Farrakhan on stage was SCLC President Dr. Charles Steele, scores of Hip Hop icons like Chuck D, Snoop Dog, Young Geezy, Puffy, Common and Russell Simmons were there to embrace him.
“Islam is the religion of Hip Hop,” said Rabb Love, who is 45. “We have evolved from the Christianity mentality. Although he is 82, Farrakhan is loved and respected by the Hip Hop culture because he has the courage and clout to say what he wants to say.”
Joy BeLynda Russaw, a seasoned intellectual, writer and philosopher, said that after Martin Luther King, Jr., “Minister Farrakhan is the greatest activist of my time. He is the modern day library on life. Wise about world issues, gifted on analyzing and problem solving. And certainly a leader on what actions need to be taken.”
Steven Muhammad is a longtime Nation of Islam devotee and influential community activist, who took three busloads of people from Atlanta to Washington for the Justice or Else event.
“Minister Farrakhan has done more to advance black people than Malcolm or Martin did when they were alive,” Muhammad argued. “Malcolm X had a relatively small following, and Dr. King was hated by many black preachers and the white establishment. Most black leaders ran from them. Once they were assassinated, their images were whitewashed.
“The Minister has had a greater impact,” Muhammad continued. “They didn’t make him, and they can’t break him, no matter what they say. Everyone you saw on the Mall on Saturday spent $100 or more to get there. Folks of all ages and hues came to get their marching orders. No other black leader could have done that twice!”
Note to readers: In the interest of full disclosure, Maynard Eaton is the national communications director for the SCLC and managing editor of the SCLC National Magazine.