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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Japan Today - News - African-Americans march on Washington - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - African-Americans march on Washington - Japan's Leading International News NetworkAfrican-Americans march on Washington

Sunday, October 16, 2005 at 06:37 JST
WASHINGTON — Thousands of African-Americans, young and old, rallied in Washington on Saturday, frustrated with lingering inequalities in the United States but hopeful that their show of force would mark a first step toward change.

"This is the start of getting black people together to get organization to get some change," said Amon Ra, 50, an Ohio state employee who drove more than 10 hours with his son to attend the "Millions More Movement" event, a decade after the "Million Man March" to empower black men in the United States.

"We feel that, since black men occupy the majority of the unemployment rate, that we need to get some change to get them employed so they can take care of their families," Ra said, as marchers trudged to the venue in colorful T-shirts, some toting signs reading "Defend Affirmative Action."

The "Millions More Movement" is aimed at bringing men, women and youth into "an effective national movement with the goal of transforming American society and eliminating poverty and injustice," organizers said in a statement.

The event was organized by a broad coalition, including the Nation of Islam led by Louis Farrakhan, Reverend Jesse Jackson of the National Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and rap mogul-activist Russell Simmons, among others.

"We must now stand in this Millions More Movement for accountability," said Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (news, bio, voting record), a Texas Democrat.

For Sarah Thompson, an ebullient student at Spelman College in Georgia, it was an occasion not to be missed.

"I came to say that young women are so powerful," said Thompson, 21. "And that young people are not apathetic.

"We are going to defend the dreams of our forefathers!" she said on the National Mall, within sight of the White House.

"There are so many things — health care, the economy" — that make marching worthwhile, said Ernest Twyman, a spry 86-year-old Washington resident.

"There is not much being done for our people. Bush hasn't done anything. The rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer," Twyman said.

"You see, we were freed from one thing and now we are in economic slavery," Twyman said. "And economic slavery is just as bad as physical slavery."

"Black people have survived genocide," added Ra, who voiced hope the mass gathering could foster "black nationalism" inside the United States.

Among the celebrities helping to fuel turnout were hip-hop and Hollywood stars Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J and Queen Latifah, as well as designer-rapper-actor-activist Sean "Diddy" Combs, Public Enemy and Wyclef Jean, who wowed the banner-waving crowd.

Rapper Kanye West, who accused President George W Bush during a nationally televised Hurricane Katrina fundraiser of not caring about blacks, also supports the movement.

The man who is arguably the most powerful African-American politician, Senator Barack Obama — a rising star of the Democratic Party — was scheduled to be in his home state Saturday, his website said. Obama is currently the only black person in the Senate.

African-Americans made up 12.9% of the total U.S. population in 2000, government data show. (Wire reports)

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