Million Family March Planned

Friday, October 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rev. T.L. Barrett in Chicago hasn't heard much. Neither has Bob Law in New York City. In Philadelphia, Dallas, Los Angeles and other cities, it's the same.

The street-level buzz about the Million Family March is nowhere close to what was heard about its famous predecessor, the Million Man March, observers say. But march organizers say they're confident crowds will show up Monday on the National Mall.

``We're now on the eve of the greatest convening of our people ever,'' Million Family March National Director Ben Muhammad said Thursday.

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan wants the event, which comes on the fifth anniversary of the Million Man March, to give people from all religious and races the chance to ``rise above their symbols'' and gather in support of the American family.

But before the Million Man March, everyone was either talking about going to Washington, talking about not going to Washington or talking about the people who were trying to make the decision.

Supporters say they don't see that this time.

``It's not the same kind of buzz on the street,'' said Law, who was the New York organizer for the Million Man March and is organizing for the Million Family March as well. ``There's not the same kind of controversy. The energy, it isn't the same.''

``The word on the street is not as strong as it was the first time because it's not new anymore,'' said Barrett of the Life Center Church of God in Christ in Chicago.

March organizers say part of the problem is a lack of media coverage. The Million Man March drew controversy over Farrakhan — who has been accused of anti-white and anti-Semitic comments — and its men-only focus. Black, white and female politicians and leaders told men to stay away, leading to spirited discussions in the media and on the streets.

But the Million Family March is more mainstream, with all races, creeds, colors and sexes invited to participate. Most of the major civil rights organizations, including the Congressional Black Caucus, are official sponsors of the event.

But that makes less interesting copy so the coverage has been less, organizers say.

However, organizers say interest is picking up.

``All of my regional directors are reporting that they have chartered more buses for the Million Family March than they did for the Million Man March,'' Muhammad said.

Local organizing committees in Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver, Detroit and other major cities have been holding rallies, parades and meetings to drum up interest.

Farrakhan has appeared on Black Entertainment Television — which will carry the march live — and went on a nationwide tour for the march earlier this year.

On Thursday night he turned to the Internet, holding chats on and America Online to talk about the march. March organizers also have a Web site.

Organizers won't say how many people they expect, but they have told city officials to prepare for about 1.3 million. Federal officials said about 400,000 showed up for the Million Man March, while march organizers estimated that about 2 million people were in the National Mall.


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