It’s the march we are being told to love or hate. Tomorrow, Saturday September 5th, young people from all over are expected to gather in Harlem for the Million Youth March. The planning of this event has been in the works for almost a year, but the time, the place, and the number of participants expected, wasn’t settled until this week. The March is being convened by Khallid Mohhamed, the controversial former Nation of Islam Speaker, who has been highly criticized for his negative remarks about Jews, gays, Catholics and whites.
Mohhamed’s role in the march has caused politicians and clergy in the black community and elsewhere to denounce the messenger of an otherwise important message. Mohhamed’s presence also prompted New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to brand the event a “hate march.” And Mayor Giuliani’s vilification of Mohhamed touched off a war of words between organizers and city hall.
To complicate matters, as the rhetoric was going back and forth, the city tried to deny the organizers a permit. At the very least, that created a perception that the permit was denied because the mayor didn’t like Mohhamed’s politics. The permit issue was settled in court this week when an appellate court upheld a federal judge’s decision to overrule the city and allow the march to take place in Harlem. However, restrictions have been placed on the march, and that has made many people concerned about safety, particularly with how heated the debate has been over the last several weeks.
- Roger Wareham, is an attorney for the organizers of the march.
- Salim Muwakill, is a Senior Editor at In These Times. He is also a columnist at the Chicago Tribune.