Minister Louis Farrakhan has agreed to have a gay or lesbian speaker at this Saturday’s Million More March in Washington, but just who will speak had not been decided as of the deadline for this week’s Gay City News.
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), a national African-American gay rights group, approached the leader of the Nation of Islam in February asking that queers be among the speakers at the march and rally. The Million More March marks the tenth anniversary of the Million Man March that created a stir when a hundreds of thousands gathered for what was the largest assemblage of African Americans since the historic rallies of the 1960s.
Organizers of the Million More March promised to be inclusive and represent the entire African-American community, a mission statement that seemed to invite queer participation, as well as a far broader role for women, who played a limited part in the 1995 event. On October 5, a spokesman for Farrakhan said a black gay speaker will be included.
The inclusion of the community is a positive step, said Jasmyne Cannick, a member of the NBJC’s board of directors. She said she was “pleased” that so much “progress has been made with the Nation of Islam,” a group with a history of homophobia.
But the Million More March may pick a speaker from the Black Men’s Exchange, a group for same-gender-loving (SGL) black men that is critical of the gay rights movement. As the group explains on its Web site. “Since the advent of the gay rights movement many Black SGLs painfully discovered that this ‘movement’ provided little space for the voices, experiences and empowerment of Black people.”
This black separatist spirit may lead Farrakhan to choose one of that group’s speakers.
NBJC has offered the Nation of Islam a choice of ten speakers, five men and five women including nationally known figures such Professor Angela Davis, the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Alice Walker, best selling author E. Lynn Harris, and New York City Councilman Philip Reed, who has represented portions of the Upper West Side and Harlem since 1998.