Saturday September 6th saw the Million Youth March make its triumphant way through the streets of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. The six-block area of the march was called “the heart of the black community” and allowed organizers to call for between 20,000 and 100,000 people to attend.
The march, and following rally, was meant to empower black youth and encourage unity throughout that racial sector. It was also intended to show resistance to violence within the community and police brutality against blacks.
The event was cast a successor to the original Million Youth March, which was staged in 1998. The first rally drew a crowd estimated to be about 20,000 people, which cheered through numerous speeches, including raving by the anti-White, anti-Jew, anti-Catholic, anti-Gay founder of the New Black Panther Party, Khalid Muhammad. At the end of the event, eleven people were injured when police tried to impose the assigned 4 p.m. expiration of the rally’s permit.
The New Black Panther Party, one of the primary organizers of this year’s event, promised rap stars and black politicians would be in abundance at the rally, including Democratic Presidential candidate Al Sharpton, legal activist Alton Maddox, and New York City Councilman Charles Barron. Of course, the Black Panther national chairman, 0Malik Shabazz, would be in attendance as well.
Shabazz has been called a rabid anti-Semite and racist, and his words underscore the charges. He accused Jews of being behind the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001, saying:
If 3,000 people perished in the World Trade Center attacks and the Jewish population is 10 percent, you show me records of 300 Jewish people dying […] We’re daring anyone to dispute this truth. They got their people out.
During Saturday’s march, Shabazz’s remarks showed little difference. While he did call for African-American youth to get an education and shun drugs and violence, he also called Whites “the enemy,” denounced police brutality and seemed to call for brutality against police. Shabazz said: “We’re going to have to get to the day when we get some police funerals.” Even in the face of such language, the relatively small police presence, mostly community affairs officers, remained cool and polite.
Shabazz also remembered the first Million Youth March in somewhat ominous terms. “We will not start a riot today, but I will make no promises about tomorrow,” he said as he took the podium about 5 p.m. to deliver the final speech of the rally.
Many of the promised attractions at the event never showed, including the rap stars and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Charles Barron, during his remarks, said that Bloomberg should have been there with the “keys to the city,” and that he would run for mayor himself. If elected, Barron promised to turn Gracie Mansion into a homeless shelter and paint the columns on City Hall red, green and black – the colors of African unity. Numerous activists who did not attend in person, including former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, former New Jersey Poet Laureate Amiri Baraka, and Louis Farrakhan endorsed the event.
Of course, these worthy individuals weren’t the only ones who didn’t attend the event. It seems the African-American youth who were the intended audience had something better to do Saturday afternoon. Only about 300 people attended.