Million Man March
The Million Man March was a gathering of African American men on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Occurring on October 16, 1995, its purpose was to present a different picture of African American men than the one usually portrayed on television and in the media.
Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, originated the Million Man March, working with other groups with the notable exception of the national NAACP. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Jr., founder of the National African American Leadership Summit, served as the director.
Part of the impetus for the Million Man March came from the 1994 Congressional elections, which put Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives for the first time in decades. Many African American leaders hoped to use the march to raise awareness for issues of concern to the black community. At the time, African Americans had unemployment rates twice that of whites, poverty rates of over 40 percent, and median incomes slightly more than half of white families.
Notable speakers that day included Martin Luther King III, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Reverend Jessie Jackson, and Minister Louis Farrakhan. The march was not without some controversy, however. Minister Farrakhan is a polarizing figure in America. The National Park Service estimated the crowd at 400,000, significantly less than the million hoped for. However, later estimates put the gathering somewhere above 800,000.