The Merits Of "Millions More"
October 19, 2005 - 12:18pm ET
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When I attended the Millions More Movement at the National Mall Saturday, I couldn’t help but be reminded of David Corn’s piece “Marching to Irrelevance.” First, let me say that seeing hundreds of thousands of black people as well as white people, Asian people, Latinos and Middle Eastern people willing to promote unity and social justice was an amazing sight.
However, we’ve seen these kinds of marches before. The Million Man March, which took place a decade ago, didn’t really solve anything. For example, 24.7 percent of black people live in poverty, which is almost triple the national average and higher than any other ethnic group in the United States.
Americans have a long, rich history of protest and using marches and rallies to drum up support for a cause. There’s a tradition of using these events to bring attention to an issue that would otherwise be swept under the rug. They were a way of bucking the trend, of resisting the status quo.
Now, it almost seems marches and rallies have become the status quo. At the rally, there were people selling T-shirts, food vendors offering barbecue, and one Nation of Islam speaker used his time at the podium to tout the Nation’s own brand of spring water.
Although Farrakhan said he wants to develop a Ministry of Trade and Commerce, Ministry of Development of Africa and the Caribbean, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Health and Human Services, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Agriculture to aid black and poor communities, there was no concrete plan expressed for putting these plans into action, for making these plans more than good sound bites.
Many speakers called for unity rather than uniformity, and talked of the importance of helping the underprivileged, no matter what the color of their skin might be. And while that is a beautiful message, it’s stating the obvious, no? What I’m interested to find out is how these leaders plan to unite black people, who are 12 million strong in the United States and come from different socioeconomic, educational, and yes, cultural backgrounds.
Marches and rallies, for the most part, are full of the kind of bluster and passionate rhetoric that might make one feel good at the time. But at the end of the day, what was really accomplished?
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Views expressed on this page are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Campaign for America's Future or Institute for America's Future