By Bro. Kareem Annoor Muhammad
Jackson Advocate Guest Writer
October 16, 2022 marked the 27th anniversary of the Million Man March. October 14-16 was an awesome display of what the true spirit of the Million Man March symbolized all those years ago.
The Local Organizing Committee collaborated with the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF) Directors and Planners Committee as they hosted their Fourth Annual Juneteenth Conference to commemorate the Million Man March. This conference also took the opportunity to celebrate the passage of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Bill, which was passed by Congress on June 17, 2021 and made Juneteenth a national holiday.
NJOF, the “Modern Juneteenth Movement,” is the collective work of leaders, activists, and other organizations that came together in the year 2012 from across the country. They met in New Orleans, LA at Christian Unity Baptist Church to advocate for greater national recognition of Juneteenth. Rev. Ronald V. Myers Sr., MD was named as the chairman of NJOF. The movement brought Juneteenth legislation to 43 states and Washington, DC, paving the way for Juneteenth to be nationally recognized. Motivated by Dr. Myers’ vision, the NJOF continues the mission of bringing Black people together to enjoy the common bond of freedom through the recognition, observance, education, and historical preservation of Juneteenth in America.
The Local Organizing Committee is made up of different organizations, churches, business owners, community leaders, activists, and other individuals that come together in a collaborative effort to grow Black communities holistically. It works diligently throughout the community and surrounding areas to bring awareness, educate, and empower the people through, first and foremost, love, outreach, training, self-help programs, and other tenants in and of the community.
In the spirit of the 1995 Million Man March, organizers from various organizations, such as the National Black United Front, Nation of Islam, New Black Panther Party, NJOF, Universal African Peoples Organization, the California Reparations Movement, and others, met in Galveston, TX to show solidarity toward the principle of self-determination and the restoration of the Black family. The conference began October 14 with a historical tour in Houston, TX that included several visits to different historical landmarks.
The Gregory School – established first as The Gregory Institute in 1870 – was the first Black elementary school in Houston, TX and the first stop on the tour. The group then caravanned to Emancipation Park, an 11-acre museum filled with the history of the former slaves who bought the land for $800. The tour concluded in Texas City, TX at The Frank Bell Sr. House where many organizers listened as 93-year-old Mrs. Bell Caldwell, the granddaughter of the Bells, told the story of her grandparents and their struggle to be married in an anti-miscegenation state. The group who toured The Bell House listened in awe as Caldwell told her grandparents’ story. Sheryl Potts, a commander of The New Black Panther Party from Jackson, MS, said she could feel the strength and power as she walked barefooted on their land. The agenda was full of excitement and education.
Saturday, October 15, the group gathered in support of the National Black United Front (NBUF) as they came together to commemorate 25 years of the organization’s commitment to Black unity. The group could easily be spotted as they filled Galveston Beach, wearing all white to celebrate Ase Day. Those that attended enjoyed the African culture of drumming, dancing, singing, and storytelling of how the ancestors were brought to the shores. They danced beautiful dances of freedom. It was a sight to see.
That afternoon, The Local Organizing Committee of MS hosted its annual Million Man March Town Hall Meeting at the Galveston Cultural Center where the topic of discussion was “Why we should separate and start an Independent Party.” The LOC presented questions to the panelists around separation, establishing an independent party, defining sovereignty, nationhood, and reparations.
Tarsha Parker, co-chair of the LOC of Greenville, MS, welcomed the audience and opened with a prayer. She expressed her gratitude for being a part of such a historic weekend. “We are so honored to host this year’s town hall meeting as we conclude a great weekend of teaching our people, learning our culture, honoring our ancestors, and celebrating our freedom.” Brother Kareem Muhammad, the LOC’s program coordinator and moderator, added while engaging the viewing audience, “We came here today being grateful to the Honorable Minister Farrakhan for giving to us this day as a day of atonement and reconciliation. We are here today to call on the spirits of our ancestors [and] the spirit of self-determination, not to merely reflect on the tragedy of the Black Holocaust that took the lives of millions of our peoples.”
He continued, “We are here calling on the spirits of our love ones to give us the spirit of Ujima, collective work and responsibility; the spirit of Ujamaa, group economics. We ask them to give us that spirit of desire of self-governing, the right to economic opportunity, self-determination for education, and the right to defend ourselves against racism and white supremacy.”
During the town hall meeting, a tribute was given in honor of the late Sister Dr. Minister Ava Muhammad, who was the lead person for Project Separation commissioned by the Honorable Minister Farrakhan. She left everyone with a clear understanding of why there should be separation. She said, “This is not a unified nation. This is a loosely formed, politically formed union of 50 individual sovereign states. The white man has been at odds in and among himself from day one. From the time he came out of the caves of Europe they have been at war and at odds with one another. There is a reason there is a South Dakota and a North Dakota, a South Carolina and a North Carolina and it’s not a good reason you have that. Our people have been attempting to get away from those that have terrorized them.
“We did not protest and break away to go sit at a lunch counter with white people. It was to come out from under the debilitating effect of Jim Crow. It was to demand our rights to vote. Our right to have a decent place to live and integration was pushed on us. The ideal of integration to white people is we are free to come and spend our money with them, in their airlines, their restaurants, buy cars from them. We must begin to put this concept of separation on the minds of our people. The practical ability that we have to obtain our independence starting in this country that we made the wealthiest and most powerful country on this earth. So, the question is not should we consider separation but the Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us that we must separate, it is the only solution!” she concluded.
One of the panelists, former Oklahoma State Senator Connie Johnson, shared her experience as a legislator. In sheer disappointment, she noted that she recognized that neither the Democratic nor the Republican parties mean the Black community any good. “We must consider establishing our own party that will speak to the needs of our people. In regards to separation, I truly do not know the answer; however, I came here today to find out if it’s possible.”
Another very outspoken panelist, Prince Najee Muhammad, prime minister of the New Black Panther Party, told the audience, “We must demand separation. We must say separation or else.” He strongly conveyed that he was there that day on behalf of those that say separation or else by any means necessary.
Several of the panelists offered their support for a national agenda that speaks for the marginalized and those that are voiceless. Sister Attorney Pamela Muhammad of Houston, TX gave a thorough overview of state rights. She said, “When we look at states, we must understand that the governor controls the education system; the governor controls the health care system, the welfare of the citizens of that state; they control the economics that comes in from the federal and the private sectors. If we want a better life, we must consider voting people into these governor’s offices that have our best interest as their agenda.”
Zaki Baruti, president of the Universal Afrikan Peoples Organization (UAPO), also added, in response to questions surrounding the establishment of an independent political party, that he was sick and tired of this white supremacy system. He said, “We must do as the Honorable Minister Elijah Muhammad taught us if we want some land of our own. And in order for you and I to accomplish this, we must consider re-migration back to these southern states. We must begin to come back to Mississippi and give the people the numbers that are needed.” He noted that this is called proportional political percentage representation. “We have the numbers; we must be united and politically organized.” Dr. Baruti compellingly quoted the late Kwame Toure as he closed, saying, “Organize, organize, organize!”
Dr. Cassie Sade Turnipseed, a professor at Jackson State University, spoke to the audience by saying, “In order for us to truly become organized and united we must begin to learn about ourselves. We must learn our history. Some of our young people may not have the desire to read a book. However, we can begin to teach our rich legacy through establishing monuments. Let’s put monuments throughout our cities, in the communities that tell our stories: the story of grandma and Uncle Jimmy who picked that cotton from ‘can see to can’t see’ just to feed [the] family; tell of the sharecroppers; there is some rich history and important lessons. When you know yourself, you love yourself and when you know better, you do better.” She ended by passing the torch to Brother Kareem Annoor II and imploring him to continue telling our stories through film and photos.
Dr. Brother Abdul Haleem Muhammad, Southwest Student Regional Minister of the Nation of Islam, told the gathering of over 50 people, “When we talk about being an independent people, we must understand the constructs of this country. What do I mean? Well, the 13th, 14th, and the 15th Amendments were designed to give those newly emancipated in the Confederate states’ rights. What we must understand is when it comes to interest groups, there is something that is called operational unity.
“We may not look alike; however, we must agree on a Black agenda, an agenda that speaks to the interest of those that are the marginalized and the poor that are not represented in the state house. We must be determined to control our own issues, education, healthcare, housing, and economics, and be unapologetic. We all have a natural enemy, and this enemy has always planned to keep us apart.” He proudly closed shouting, “Black Power. Free the land, as-salaam-alaikum.”
Attendees interacted and gave positive feedback. They seem to be very receptive to the panelists’ positions. One of the youngest participates, Kareem Annoor II, the son of Brother Kareem Muhammad, responded to the panelists by sharing his experience as a young twelve-year-old soldier in 1995 when his father took him and several other young men to Washington, DC. He said he watched the Black community, and he saw and heard talk of unity and organizing; however, he stated that he still sees a serious problem in as much as we talk about unity but there is no real talk of unapologetic blackness.
Kareem Annoor said, “As the Honorable Minister Farrakhan has and is teaching us, I believe that when we start beginning to be unapologetically Black, we will begin to get the attention of the young people.” The town hall meeting was very informative and historical. Dr. Cassie Sade Turnipseed and Brother Kareem Muhammad were honored for their outstanding work on their podcast – Juneteenth 101 Podcast and Lecture Series at 5 p.m. on Sundays on Zoom at https://jacksonstateu.zoom.us/j/84430834830.
To get the youth involved, later that evening young ladies from all over the country brought their gifts and talents to compete for the title of Miss Juneteenth. The young queen Miss Madison Corzine of Fort Worth, Texas was crowned Miss 2022 Juneteenth. She won and will wear the crown until next year. One of the judges and the wife of the late Dr. Reverend Ronald V. Myers Sr., Sylvia Myers said she was truly impressed with all of the contestants. “They all showed what Black excellence looks like when we give our young people the opportunity to shine. It was not easy to choose a winner. They all left tonight a winner. I am just honored to have been a part of this year’s scholarship pageant.”
The weekend culminated on Sunday with the group visiting Reedy Church, the first Black church in Galveston, where the colored troops in 1865 placed Order #3 on the door. The group fellowshipped with the members, shared their experiences, and told the history of Juneteenth. People from all over the world came for this momentous weekend. From this gathering a mission, goals, and some demands were developed. The mission: family is the basic unit of life in society. The empowerment of the family requires platforms that speak for the marginalized and the locked out of the pursuit of freedom, justice, and equality with objectives around establishing a coalition of progressive activists for the sole purpose of presenting a platform around the national agenda. The goal must be to establish a political party made of small interest groups that are committed to reviewing historic documents and conferences around the Black political agenda. Freedom Summer of 1964, the famous 1972 in Gary, Indiana Black political platform. The mission of the Million Man March pledge, the National Agenda. This coalition will be known as the Justice or Else Party.
1. A separate state or territory
2. Reparation and restoration
3. Equal justice for all regardless of class, creed, or color
4. Immediate stoppage of police killings and terrorist attacks against the Black and Latino community
5. The immediate restructuring of the criminal justice system
From this gathering came the initiative to prepare Mississippi for A Freedom Summer Project 2024, marking 60 years since the historical 1964 Freedom Summer. This project will attempt to revisit the goals, strategies, and objectives of the COFO summer planning committee. The LOC’s purpose in this endeavor is to leave with a strong independent political party to be known as the Justice or Else Party with an agenda that speaks to the needs of the citizens of Mississippi that have been left without true political power.
Pages 36-37 of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s book, titled “The Fall of America,” asks this question: How much good have the two parties (Republican and Democrat) done for us for the last century in the way of freedom, justice, and equality? Regardless of what party wins, the die is always set against us (the Black people in America). If the present party (Democrat) remains in office, you know the answer. If the Republican party takes over, you should know the answer.
Freedom Summer 2024 will focus on preparing volunteers to register Black voters and teach literacy and civics at the freedom schools throughout Mississippi, including the Delta. Voter registration and education will be the cornerstone of the summer project. Freedom Summer activists will also work to make the JOE Party a viable alternative to Mississippi’s power structure. We will come into this project on high alert, just as Fannie Lou Hamer and others did in a time of uncertainty and high tension.
The great freedom fighter Henry Highland Garnet, of the late 1800’s, once said, “The white man does not concern himself with the Black man electing one of his own to Washington, DC. The white man does not want you Black man over him in the municipalities or counties.”
In 1888, a voter suppression bill was introduced to the U.S. Senate by Senator Henry Cabot Lodge only to go down by one vote. The ex-Confederate Southern states in a panic began to rewrite their state Constitution – Mississippi in 1890 followed by Tennessee and Alabama. By 1902, all the Southern states had rewritten their constitutions in a way that would disenfranchise the Black man and his vote. This created what Michelle Alexander, in her book “Mass Incarceration the New Jim Crow,” calls preservation through transformation, guaranteeing that white supremacy is still in control of these states today. Currently, the Black community has Black elected officials throughout this country ready to take control of the political affairs of their peoples. However, the masses of the people have become dumbed down and watered down by social engineering when it comes to civic concerns and social issues. There must be a comprehensive plan of action to get our people ready for the revolution. “A revolution of political change.”
Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said, “Let’s start our own political machine. We are not Democrats nor are we Republicans. This is the Justice or Else Party. It will be a true party for the people. Black, brown, red, yellow, and poor whites will have a voice. Anybody that seeks justice and equality. Come out of those parties that will not give you justice and let’s have a Justice Party. We will choose our own candidates, run clean campaigns in the cities, take down the weak bloodsuckers of the poor, and cast them out. We will elect people that will fight for justice for us.”
The LOC of MS is organizing around this plan. We are seeking strong dedicated organizers to begin developing a steering committee for Freedom Summer 2024. For more information, call 662-577-1258 or 662-577-9343.
Organize, Organize, Organize!