Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Million Man March
The Million Man March was an African American march of protest and unity convened by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in Washington, DC on October 16, 1995. The actual number of participants was disputed. The event included efforts to register African Americans to vote in US Elections and increase black involvement in volunteerism and community activism. Speakers also offered a strong criticism of the conservative offensive of Republicans after the 1994 congressional elections (most notably the Contract with America), characterized as an attack on programs like welfare, Medicaid, housing programs, student aid programs and education programs.
Many blacks and liberal whites were critical or ambivalent about the march due to some of the more controversial figures associated with it (such as Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, criticized as racist, sexist and anti-Semitic) and many considered the male-only event sexist. Mumia Abu-Jamal praised the large turnout of blacks but criticized the event's religious overtones and lack of radicalism (along with others on the left).
According to voter registration statistics, one and a half million Black men registered to vote in the months following the March, leading David Bositis of the Joint Center for Economic Studies to remark, "In reviewing the sharp increase in the black male vote, I might find it highly implausible that there was another factor that rivaled the Million Man March in bringing about this change."
Following the 1995 Million Man March, The National Association of Black Social Workers reported a flood of 13,000 applications to adopt Black children.
Speakers at the rally on the National Mall included:
- U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel - House of Representatives
- Donald Payne - Congressional Black Caucus
- Rosa Parks - American Civil Rights Movement heroine
- Maya Angelou - Author and Poet
- Cornel West - Intellectual
- Rev. Jesse Jackson - Civil Rights Leader
- Benjamin Chavis - Civil Rights Leader
- Stevie Wonder - Singer
- Isaac Hayes - Singer
- Hammer - Rapper
- Louis Farrakhan - Nation of Islam leader
- Kurt Schmoke - Mayor of Baltimore
- Marion Barry - Mayor of Washington, D.C.
Crowd Size Controversy
March organizers estimated the crowd size at between 1.5 and 2 million people, while the United States Park Police estimated the crowd size at 400,000. The Park Police figure was reported widely by U.S. mass media. Farrakhan threatened to sue the National Park Service due to the controversial low estimate from the Park Police. After the Million Man March, the Park Police decided to discontinue providing official crowd estimates.
Three days after the march, Dr. Farouk El-Baz and a team of ten research associates and graduate students at the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University released an estimate of 870,000 people in with a margin of error of about 25 percent, which meant the actual size of the crowd at that time could have been as low as 650,000 or as high as 1.1 million. They arrived at this figure by enlarging aerial photographs taken by the Park Service and counting crowd density.
They later revised that figure to 837,000 +/- 20%, or from 670,000 to 1,004,000. This revision was made when the Park Service provided original 35mm negatives; the first count was made with scanned printed photographs.
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