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The Story Behind the Million Man March

How the event came together on Oct. 16, 1995, at the National Mall in D.C.

  • A man raises his hands in the air as he celebrates during Million Man March on the Mall, 16 October 1995, in Washington DC.
    AFP/Getty Images

    United on the Mall

    The goal of the Million Man March was unity against economic and social issues afflicting African Americans and attention from the Washington political establishment.

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  • The civil rights group National African American Leadership Summit, the Nation of Islam and local chapters of the NAACP formed the Million Man March Organizing Committee.
    Steve Helber/AP

    The Organizers

    The civil rights group National African American Leadership Summit, the Nation of Islam and local chapters of the NAACP formed the Million Man March Organizing Committee.

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  • Civil rights leader Benjamin Chavis Jr., founder of the National African American Leadership Summit, served as the march’s national director. Chavis and the committee organized the march, and Louis Farrakhan was the march’s leader and spokesman.
    Getty Images

    The Leaders

    Civil rights leader Benjamin Chavis Jr., founder of the National African American Leadership Summit, served as the march’s national director. Chavis and the committee organized the march, and Louis Farrakhan was the march’s leader and spokesman.

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  • Some supporters initially voiced concern that controversies associated with march leader Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, might overshadow the event’s message
    AP

    The Controversy

    Some supporters initially voiced concern that controversies associated with march leader Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, might overshadow the event’s message.

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  • The march spurred widespread campaigns to register African American voters across the country.
    Getty Images

    Voter Registration

    The march spurred widespread campaigns to register African American voters across the country.

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  • The National Park Service estimated turnout for the march at 400,000; Boston University research funded by the ABC TV network put the crowd at 837,000.
    Getty Images

    The Turnout

    The National Park Service estimated turnout for the march at 400,000; Boston University research funded by the ABC TV network put the crowd at 837,000.  

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  • The Day of Absence, a concurrent event organized by female leaders, was intended to connect African Americans who were unable to attend the march. Participants were encouraged to attend teach-ins and worship services in their area.
    Istockphoto

    Female Leaders

    The Day of Absence, a concurrent event organized  by female leaders, was intended to connect African Americans who were unable to attend the march. Participants were encouraged to attend teach-ins and worship services in their area.  

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  • Two years later, the Million Woman March was held in response to concerns that black women had been excluded from the 1995 march. It started at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and ended on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum.
    Getty Images

    Million Woman March

    Two years later, the Million Woman March was held in response to concerns that black women had been excluded from the 1995 march. It started at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and ended on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum.

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  • Estimates of attendance at the Million Woman March ranged from 2.1 million by event organizers and 500,000 by a University of Pennsylvania study to between 300,000 and 1 million by law enforcement officials.
    AP

    The Crowds Returned

    Estimates of attendance at the Million Woman March ranged from 2.1 million by event organizers and 500,000 by a University of Pennsylvania study to between 300,000 and 1 million by law enforcement officials.

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  • According to Louis Farrakhan, “Justice or Else!” is the theme of the Million Man March’s 20th anniversary event planned for Oct. 10 in Washington, D.C.
    AP

    The Next March

    According to Louis Farrakhan, above with activist Dick Gregory at a news conference on June 24, 2015 to announce the next march, “Justice or Else” is the theme  of the Million Man March’s 20th anniversary event planned for Oct. 10 in Washington, D.C.

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  • AARP Baby Boomers (Sean McCabe)
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