“This is no Million Man March (this is the ‘20th Anniversary’ of). But we are going back to Washington, going back with The Family: Going back with our Mexican family (that is your own Brown brother), going back with our Native American family! We want justice from this government—or else!”
These words from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan spoken in Atlanta on April 10, 2015 set the tone for the gathering to take place on October 10, 2015. The theme of “Justice Or Else!” is one that resonates with the masses of Black, Latino, Indigenous and poor people as we weather the ever increasing onslaught of disrespect and injustices hurled at us by the dominant White supremacist culture of this country.
When the Million Man March was convened, I was blessed to attend. I saw only a few Latino and Native Brothers there and none spoke from the rostrum that day. I remember walking through the peaceful throng of men hoping to see more people that looked like me present. It was the only thing I wish was different about that day, I wish more of my people would have been present to feed from that spirit and share in the joy and the beauty of that day.
Twenty years later we are going back at the call of Minister Farrakhan and this time it will be different. It’s different because time, circumstances and the nature of the call being made is different. The Latino and Indigenous people have been crying out for justice for too long and the call of Minister Farrakhan to unite the Black, Brown, and Red to get justice for all of our people is being welcomed by many.
We will be present in D.C. on 10.10.15 because the U.S. government has deported nearly two million people since President Obama was elected into office. This after he promised to deal with the issue of the broken immigration laws, but instead the politicians continue to play with the lives and families of our people and use them as political pawns.
We come to D.C. on 10.10.15 because every day there are over 30,000 people imprisoned in the world’s largest immigration detention system here in the United States of America. The majority being people from Latin America who in many cases are here seeking political asylum and refuge, only to meet disrespect, broken dreams and separation of family.
We go to D.C. because we have not forgotten the Treaty de Guadalupe Hidalgo. We go to remind the world of the treaties and promises this government made and broke. We go because we cannot forget the lives that have fought to defend ancestral lands.
We go to D.C. because our abuelitas were not afraid to set out across the Rio Grande, our tios and tias had enough faith to trek across the desert, in hopes that tomorrow would be better for their family in el Norte.
Sixty percent of the people in prison are Black and Latino. We go to seek the release of Leonard Peltier and Oscar Lopez Rivera, and all political prisoners because they are our champions and fathers in our struggle for Freedom, Justice and Equality.
Too many of us are poor and even more are being under and miseducated. We’re profiled, harassed, villainized and mocked. We are called aliens and immigrants in the land of our fathers. Our women are subjected to disrespect—good enough to take care of White people’s homes and children—but not good enough to live next door. Our children are seen as threats. They are cute and cuddly, as a pet, when they are young, but called thugs and deviants when they grow up. They call them anchor babies, as if the blood of their fathers doesn’t soak every inch of this continent, giving them rightful claim and reason for being here.
So we go to D.C. to stand in unity, from Mexico and Central America; from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean; we come as Chicanos from California, Tejanos from Texas, all the tribes of the 4 corners area; all the Nations of the Midwest and South. We come because the time demands our unity. Our children and their future calls us to make a demand for Justice, in Unity.
We remember the struggles that inspired our movement in the past. Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez, Dr. King, Russell Means, Kwame Toure, Dr. Khallid Muhammad, Wauneta LoneWolf and Reies Lopez Tijerina all remind us of our shared struggle and legacy. We are here because Marcus Garvey, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos, Emiliano Zapata, Sitting Bull, Jose Marti and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad gave us a vision of what kind of world we can build. And a better world won’t just be given to us, we will have to stand up together, and do what must be done to leave our young people that better world.
So we go to D.C.—Latino and Native Brothers and Sisters—not to support a “Black” event. We go to stand up and speak in one voice with our Black Brothers and Sisters, and demand that we get Justice for all the lies told, all the lives lost and every inch of territory taken. We go because we remember the unity that formed communities of resistance against colonialism and slavery in the past. We go to say in one voice, at the call of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, that we are together to bring change. We are united for one common cause, the tie that binds us is Justice. Our demand is singular and unified:
Justice … Or Else!
See you in Washington, D.C. 10.10.15.
Student Minister Abel Muhammad is the Latino representative of the Nation of Islam and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.