The event was hosted by the Antelope Valley Study Group, from 12 to 3:30 p.m., and brought together speakers from the Nation of Islam, as well other community leaders.
The local celebration was held as a continuation of a larger celebration, which took place in Philadelphia a week earlier to commemorate the 16th Anniversary of the Million Man March – when civil rights organizations, social activists, and African American men converged en masse at the United States Capital on October 16, 1995. Many of the themes from the original Million Man March – accountability, unity, activism, reconciling differences and changing public perception – were reemphasized at Saturday’s local commemoration.
“We all must understand that it’s not about Christianity, it’s not about Islam, it’s not about I’m black and I’m white,” said organizer Stan Muhammad. “It’s about obedience to God Himself, whether I see Him as Allah, Jesus, Jehovah, Yahweh, or whatever you want to call Him, the most important thing that we can do as human beings is obey His will.”
Rev. Hilde Brooks, of the Center for Spiritual Living, urged the audience to see past differences to recognize the similarities that unite everyone.
“I’m not different than you,” Brooks said, to the mostly African American crowd. “I am not any more privileged than you are; it doesn’t matter if my hair is blond and I can swing it.”
Brooks said, as a woman, she had to work just as hard, and endure many of the same struggles faced by the women in the room, including being marked, ridiculed and accused.
“I have a biracial son and my heart cries for him,” said Brooks. “I pray everyday, please don’t profile my baby.
Speaker V. Jesse Smith urged the audience to become advocates for change in the Antelope Valley.
“You need to become an active, outspoken and assertive individual to fight for change in our own community,” said Smith. “That outspokenness may look like violence, it may look like confrontation, but you have to have that kind of confrontation in order for justice and peace to take place.”
Speakers Emmett Murrell of The Community Action League and Darren Parker of the Merit Commission also spoke at the event.
The featured presentation was a speech given by Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, via DVD. The video was taken from Farrakhan’s 2011 Holy Day of Atonement address on October 9, 2011 in Philadelphia. Farrakhan touched on a series of topics throughout the hour-long speech, including unemployment, war, Martin Luther King, President Obama, education, economics and the Tea Party.
Farrakhan said that the time for marching was over and commanded listeners to mobilize for action.
“The future of our people depends on our ability for action to bring about the results that we’ve been begging others for, which will never come to us,” he said. “We have got to do it ourselves.”
For more information, or to order the Holy Day of Atonement Commemorating the 16th anniversary of the Million Man March DVD, contact 310-925-2071.