his still nascent quest for legitimacy, Louis Farrakhan sought to
reach out to more Americans by weaving mainstream issues into his
Million Family March speech, and by making the march about him.
Monday’s egoism came even as the Nation of Islam is beset by
internal strife some say is the result of his leadership.
Farrakhan's lack of his usual fiery rhetoric resulted in his
ulterior motives becoming all-too transparent, an inability to
overshadow the nature of the family theme, and a speech that showed
the degree to which Farrakhan is now a mass of contradictions.
three-hour speech on Monday did not use the word “bloodsucker” to
describe Jews, as he has in the past.
He did not refer to Judaism as “a gutter religion.”
Instead, he rambled on about everything from reparations for
descendents of slaves, to ending the economic embargo against Iraq, to
calls for attendees to fund his plan to create his proposed economic
development bank—the ostensible goal for which would be to help
create neighborhood businesses.
day prior to the gathering, Farrakhan went on Meet the Press
and referred to the relationship between blacks and Jews as a
While he told host Tim Russert that he did regret that
sometimes his way of speaking is “caustic and harsh,” he also told
Russert that “[He didn’t] need to apologize for telling the
Farrakhan’s speech, the huge video monitors scattered around
Washington DC’s National Mall showed a video biography of such
quality as to rival similar presentations made at both the Republican
and Democratic political conventions.
The speakers at the March continually praised Farrakhan, but
quotes from the audience showed them to be more interested in general
themes of family than in Farrakhan specifically.
Valeria Ward, a resident of Sterling, Virginia, told The
Associated Press that she went “for my two sons so they can know the
importance of family, so they can understand everybody coming
use of the family as a theme exemplifies Farrakhan’s attempt to gain
legitimacy, all while he continues to refuse to offer an apology for
past slurs against whites, Jews, and others.
Farrakhan knows that a successful association of himself with
mainstream issues would make him more powerful than before, despite
the Nation of Islam’s current problems.
Nation of Islam member Sonsyrea Tate was in NOI for 10 years before
Tate was gratified to have African-Americans come together for
such an event, but was quoted beforehand as saying that the gathering
would “give the appearance that Mr. Farrakhan has the backing of the
masses of African-Americans, which gives him tremendous power
I would be wary of giving him that power.
Who is he accountable to?”
observation might account for some of Farrakhan’s positions on
international issues, such as ending the economic embargoes against
dictators in Iraq and Cuba, and easing financial restrictions against
another dictator in Libya.
Actually, Farrakhan has sued the U.S. government, arguing that
financial restrictions against Libya do not apply to NOI, because of
its religious nature.
For the record, Libya has about a billion dollars worth of aid
waiting to come to Farrakhan should such restrictions be
lifted—money that will surely be controlled by Farrakhan himself.
speaking of money—the most amusing aspect of the Million Family
March was hearing Farrakhan, in his best imitation of Al Gore, berate
everything corporate, only to pull up the march’s web site to find a
logo for a credit card sponsor: “The Official Credit Card of the
Million Family March.”
on the five year anniversary of the Million Man March, which attracted
between 400,000 and 800,000 participants, Farrakhan’s most recent
gathering failed to attract even one-quarter of the promised million
That first gathering, which promised to focus on atonement, has
yet to inspire Farrakhan into atoning for his own past statements.
We will wait and see whether Monday’s Million Family March
will lead Farrakhan to really draw attention to family issues, or if
he will remain as uninspired about those issues as Monday’s crowd
was about him—despite his best efforts.
© Mario H. Lopez, 2000
View expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Political USA.