Sunday, October 15, 2000

March puts focus on the home front

Thousands of Tristaters head to D.C.

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A unifying spirit and sense of responsibility brought Minister James Muhammad to Washington, D.C., five years ago for the Million Man March. It's also what has inspired him to return to the nation's capital Monday for the Million Family March.

        “That day is our Holy Day,” said Minister Muhammad of the Nation of Islam's Mosque No. 5 in Cincinnati. “We should reflect on family. We should reflect on how we can better mend our differences with somebody in our family. The family has to be risen back up again ... and made whole again because the family is the cornerstone of any community and nation.”

        Local organizers say scores of chartered buses and caravans of cars will transport thousands of people from the Tristate to Washington for the march, which is among a host of events this weekend organized by the Nation of Islam to renew Americans' commitment to their families and communities.

        National organizers say more than 10,000 buses will bring marchers to Washington, and schools in New Jersey have canceled classes so students can attend the march.

Bringing about change
               Donald Shabazz of Bond Hill, chairman of the local organizing committee, said the ultimate goal of the gathering is to get family-friendly policies enacted.

        “The idea is to bring about a change in America,” said Mr. Shabazz, who is driving his family to the march today. “If it was just a march ... then obviously that would just be vanity in and of itself. But the goals and purposes of the march are so much higher, so much more profound. We're going to mobilize people to bring about a change.”

        Beside strengthening families, he said, the national agenda for the march centers around moral, health and justice issues, as well as economic development and international affairs.

        “Through that spirit, through that mobilization, through that unity we will come back and implement the national agenda,” Mr. Shabazz said. “We're going to come back and make certain that we get people into office who are going to represent our needs as spelled out in the national agenda.”

        Mr. Shabazz, too, attended the Million Man March, which was organized by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to challenge black men to be responsible husbands, fathers and members of society. Monday's march is open to all races and religions.

        “This is inclusive of all people irrespective of race, national origin, gender and age,” he said. “This is bringing together people on true principles.”

        The Rev. Mr. Farrakhan will perform a “Sacred Marriage Blessing Ceremony” for 10,000 new couples and renew the vows of married couples. Other events include a symposium on family, a prayer service and a forum on political issues and public policy.

Local efforts
               Local organizations sponsoring buses or helping people with transportation and hotel needs for the gathering include the Nation of Islam and the National Black Unity Coalition.

        Patricia Amerrah Khadijah coordinated two buses that left Saturday from La Amistad United Church of Christ in Walnut Hills. Her family rode on one of the buses.

        A mother of five, Mrs. Khadijah said she decided to attend the march for personal reasons. It inspired her to start working more closely not only with her own children, but with other families as well.

        “I want to work directly with underprivileged families — families that don't have a mother and a father, children that may not have all of the perks that my children have,” the Mount Healthy woman said. “I want to really get into training and developing the inner self of black women.”

        The Rev. Bill Land, pastor of La Amistad, will host a program Monday at Swifton Commons in Bond Hill for people who cannot attend the march.

        “What we're planning to do ... is bring folks together for the celebration, bring in key candidates to talk to the crowd (about the Nov. 7 election),” said the Rev. Mr. Land. “We're going to invite folks who have been living together and are ready to get married to go get licenses and we'll have some ministers to marry or to give them some marital counseling. (And) we're going to have a satellite truck out there so we can look at what's happening in D.C., and maybe get Minister Farrakhan's main speech.”


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