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Detroit events mark Million Man March 25th anniversary

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

On Oct. 16, 1995, thousands of Black Michiganians descended on Washington, D.C., for a historic occasion: the Million Man March, which aimed to improve communities nationwide through a call to action.

To mark the 25th anniversary Friday, locals are gathering again to honor the pledges proclaimed then. 

A joint commemoration is planned starting at noon outside Fellowship Chapel on Detroit's west side, followed by a related event later in the day at the Alkebu-lan Village on Harper.

Social distancing and masks are required due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers said. RSVPs are also requested.

The celebrations are sponsored by groups including the Detroit Branch NAACP, whose president, the Rev. Wendell Anthony, leads Fellowship Chapel and attended the march in the nation's capitol a quarter-century ago.

Participants in the Million Man March on Oct. 16, 1995, wave money so it can be collected during the rally in Washington, D.C.

He vividly recalls the busloads of men who streamed to the National Mall and stood for hours, even climbing on trees, to hear Minister Louis Farrakhan and other leaders demand they unify and commit to bettering the country. 

"We wanted to rekindle that to the degree of working together, particularly right now when there's so much division," Anthony said.

Friday's event at his church is slated to feature the head of the Wayne State University Black Student Union and local leaders. Participants are urged to "to retake the pledge" laid in 1995 to reduce violence as well as engage in civic activity, volunteerism and faith groups, Anthony said.

That means helping boost voter registration head of the Nov. 3 presidential election, he added. "It’s vitally important because we are really at a crisis point in our nation. There’s a feeling by some of hopelessness and helplessness. We’re not either one."