Passing the Flame: The 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March

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Saturday saw the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March in America, where hundreds of thousands of African-Americans marched on Washington D.C. The idea was to place the topic of black issues into the political consciousness, such as economic and social disparity between races.

20 years later and these issues seem just as relevant as ever. The theme for Saturday’s event, organised by Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan, was Justice or Else, a reference to the gro640px-The_million_march_manwing number of deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police that are going seemingly unpunished. A shocking statistic on the Justice or Else website claims that every 28 hours the police murder someone black.

Although the purpose and the focus of the march may have stayed the same there were ways in which the message had shifted slightly. Although the original march in 1995 consisted of African American men only, this time saw large numbers of women and children among those in the crowds. The event was live streamed online at www.justiceorelse.com in 5 different languages and speakers encouraged people to use the hashtag #MillionManMarch on social media to share images and video.

There was also a sense of a symbolic passing of the torch to a newer, younger generation. There was explicit mention of the Black Lives Matter movement that has arose in retaliation to the instances of police-involved black deaths and throughout the day crowds could be heard chanting Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Alright’. This represents, if nothing else, that not only are black political issues resonating with young African-Americans but also a cultural resurgence is helping to make these issues relevant to a younger generation.

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