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‘Millions More Marchâ€TM Opened to Queer Rights Advocates

by Brendan Coyne

Oct. 12, 2005 – After months of wrangling and a low-level campaign of public pressure, the Nation of Islam will include an organization representing black homosexuals in an upcoming rally for Black empowerment. The October 15 Washington, DC gathering is the culmination of a 23-city tour commemorating the 10th anniversary of the historic Million Man March.

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In a statement Monday, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), an advocate for the rights of queer African-Americans, announced that the Nation of Islam had agreed to give the group ten slots for speakers at this Saturday’s Millions More Movement rally. The decision by Minister Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, marks a turnaround for the group and for the religious leader.

According to the NBJC, until this past weekend, gay activists have been excluded from the planning and leadership of this weekend’s gathering. Pro-black-rights events in the recent past have also drawn criticism for excluding African American women, most notably the 1995 Million Man March, which was billed as a male-only event challenging black men to take more responsibility for their communities.

Hoping to make the Nation of Islam larger and stronger, Farrakhan told the Chicago Tribune that the movement is seeking to bring in more minority groups, including gays, Latinos and Native Americans, as well as women.

"If we don't make the movement inclusive, then we minimize the potential of leveraging the power of black, brown, red and poor," Farrakhan told the paper.

The NBJC made a number of attempts to communicate their concerns about being excluded from event planning earlier this year and were often ignored or turned down. In a statement last week, the group called on Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan to include the organization’s speakers and organizers in this weekend’s plans.

The National Organization of Women and other groups came out in support of NBJC as well.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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