Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan. (Screenshot from a YouTube video for “Justice or ELSE”)
In October 1995, hundreds of thousands of African Americans convened on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to sound a clarion call for civil rights and economic parity under the aegis of Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan and other Black leaders.
This year, on the 20th anniversary of the historic Million Man March on Oct. 10, Farrakhan is calling hundreds of thousands of Blackmen, women and other people of color to march again, this time to demand justice for the killings with impunity of Black men, women and children at the hands of police and vigilantes under the theme “Justice or Else.”
“These are not the times for weak people, for cowardly people,” said Farrakhan, according to The Washington Post, during the June 24 announcement at an interfaith gathering at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Northeast Washington. The service came on the heels of the slaying of nine African-American congregants by a self-proclaimed White supremacist at a Charleston, S.C. AME church.
But the response to such atrocities, including the taking of Black lives by police, should not just be marching but retaliation, Farrakhan said during a recent stop in Miami, Fla., to promote the #JusticeorElse gathering.
“I need 10,000 fearless men, who say, ‘Death is sweeter than continued life under tyranny. Death is sweeter than to live and bury our children while White folks give the killer hamburgers,” the Muslim leader said, according to a video recording of the speech. Farrakhan referred to police taking Charleston shooting suspect Dylann Roof to a Burger King after his capture.
“Retaliation is a prescription from God to calm the breast of those whose children have been enslaved,” Farrakhan added in his remarks to the packed audience gathered July 30 at Mount Zion Baptist Church. “So, if the federal government will not intercede in our affairs, then we must rise up and kill those who kill us. Stalk them and kill them and let them feel the pain of death that we are feeling!”
Farrakhan’s sentiments echo those of Malcolm X during the height of the Civil Rights Movement amid lynchings and other acts of terror against Blacks by the Ku Klux Klan.
“Instead of our people continuing to let the Klan and these other racist elements intimidate us with murder and organized brutality, if the Klan knows that we will retaliate, that we can retaliate and do unto them as they have been doing unto us, we feel that that in itself would be sufficient to hold them in check,” Malcolm X said in a July 10, 1964 interview. “And if the government doesn’t want this kind of situation to develop, then it is up to the United States government .”