Where Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrahkan urged them to improve their families and communities. The “Million Man March” became the most historic organizing and mobilizing event in the history of Black people in the United States. All creeds and classes were present: Christians, Muslims, Hebrews, Agnostics, nationalists, pan-Africanists, civil rights organizations, fraternal organizations, rich, poor, celebrities and people from nearly every organization, profession and walk of life came for atonement, reconciliation and responsibility. This year, Minister Farrakhan has boldly issued a new and poignant theme: “Justice Or Else” to convene on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. The minister asserted, “On 10.10.15, let’s show the world our unity.”
A broad cross section of local community activists from the NAACP, the National Urban League, National Action Network, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Latino and Native American organizations, including American Indian Youth groups and others, are joining with Nation of Islam organizers and officials to build a strong national network to be heard on the world’s stage for this year’s gathering. Adrian Heckstall, founder of “I Love Ancestry” (iloveancestry.com) is part of the National Mobilizing Committee for Justice Or Else says, “Farrakhan is one of very few leaders from the Black community that advocate for Native people.” During the Q/A portion of his July 10th address at the 2015 UNITY Conference in Washington, D.C., a Native American youth asked the Honorable Minister what the Native American tribes can do to support the upcoming 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March, “You and I are one. We are one,” said Farrakhan. “Our unity will help us to get our grievances answered. Organize and come on! Let’s do it together.”
In other media outlets Farrakhan said, “The Black together, the Red, the Brown – yes, and White– who know that Black Lives matter, our togetherness and our unity and our determination to demand justice for all will be a tremendous turning point in the growing national movement against injustice and wrongdoing.”
We have seen Black communities erupt time and again in 2015, starting as a trickle to a wave of murder and brutality against unarmed Black residents—Walter Scott, shot eight times in the back by a cop in Charleston, S.C. April 4; a little more than a week later the virtual decapitation of Freddie Gray in connection with his arrest by police officers in Baltimore, MD. An eruption of hate was poured on Black churches. Nine members—including pastor and South Carolina state senator Clementa Pinckney were gunned down during a prayer service in Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston June 17 by an avowed, 21-year-old White supremacist. Attracting far less attention because the Charleston dead were still being laid to rest as five Black churches in the South were torched—Knoxville, Tenn. June 21; Macon, Ga., June 23; Charlotte, N.C. June 24; Warrenville, S.C. June 26; and Tallahassee, Fla. June 26.
The death of mentally ill, Paul Castaway reflects that American Indians are the most likely racial group to be killed by law enforcement; and twenty-four-year-old Sarah Lee Circle Bear of Claremont, South Dakota, was found unconscious in a holding cell in Brown County Jail in Aberdeen. Circle Bear was jailed on a bond violation and later died under police custody.
Jay Winter Nightwolf (Taino-Shoshone), radio host of “American Indian’s Truths – the Most Dangerous Show On Radio” on WPFW 89.3 FM, interviewed Minister Farrakhan, Farrakhan Brings The HEAT! Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!” published July 15, 2015. Nightwolf asks Farrakhan, “What if we united?” Farrakhan responds by making an uncompromising demand for freedom and justice in the United States government he asserts, “There is no freedom without the shedding of blood. Non-violence is not going to bring the land back to us. Our unity will keep us from having to fire a shot, but if we are not united, the only way we’re going to get what belongs to us, is to make up our minds, either to live to get it or die trying to get it.” Farrakhan adds, “And when you are willing and not afraid anymore, to pay the price for freedom, don’t let this White man tell you violence is wrong. Every damn thing that he got, he got it by being violent, killing people and raping, robbing and murdering and doing it as we speak. He has the nerve to tell us violence and hatred won’t get it.” He continues, “He’s worthy to be hated.”
Adrian Heckstall solidly affirms Farrakhan’s position by stating, “It is about uniting people of color, making demands and getting them resolved by whatever means necessary.” He continues, “Violence is the ultimate recourse (I am not for violence but I am for result by any means). When in the world did any human rights conflict resolved peacefully? Look at American Indian issues in the U.S. Are they getting resolved or stalled? I believe that no major changes happened without violence.”
YoNasDa Lonewolf Hill (Oglala Lakota and Black) is the National Director of the Indigenous Nations Alliance for Justice Or Else movement asserts, “The Justice Or Else campaign can come across very threatening and scary. But the Black, Brown, and Red nations have been dealing with the same scary and threatening enemy for over 600 years. In order for our people to receive justice we must unify and come with a demand.” She continues, “Farrakhan is calling people from all four directions to come together in a universal cry for justice, where social and economic inequality, which first began with the Founding Fathers, continues to perpetuate a system of greed, corruption and the perceived undue influence of corporations on government.” Moreover, “It’s an injustice that major corporations and government are still stealing sovereign Indian lands. It’s an injustice that the federal government and major corporations are still illegally attempting to build oil pipelines onto our sacred lands. It’s an injustice that every twenty-eight hours a Black person is killed, the same is happening within the American Indian, Latino and poor white communities. We are facing major injustices and it’s our time to unite and speak as one voice!”
In an article dated June, 2015, “Justice Or Else! – A powerful message echoes throughout a sacred place”, the Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant, Pastor of the Empowerment Temple in Baltimore said, “Twenty years later we’re assembling on October 10th so that America will understand that we will not be swept away on a reservation. You can’t buy us with a casino. You can’t think we’re just going to go away. …”
“We’re not going to roll over. We’re not going to play dead because we’ve come one week after they shot up an AME church in South Carolina. A week later, we’re in an AME church in Washington, D.C., and we came to tell every racist, White supremacist, ‘We don’t die. We multiply.’ We’ve got to get justice or else!
Julianne Jennings (Nottoway) is an anthropologist.