Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, addressing the Justice or Else rally on the National Mall Saturday. (Photo: Justice or Else)
Paying homage to the Million Man March 20 years ago, Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, addressed a large crowd on the National Mall on Saturday afternoon.
He urged the crowd to continue the push for police reform and changes in black communities.
"A fearful people can’t be free. A fearful people will bow down, when it appears that the enemy is so strong and we are so weak,” he said.
The Nation of Islam sponsored the Justice or Else rally, to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Million Man March, when hundreds of thousands of black men rallied in D.C.
Farrakhan spearheaded that original march.
Attention has been focused on the deaths of unarmed black men since the shootings of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012 in Florida and 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Deaths of unarmed black males at the hands of law enforcement officers have inspired protests under the "Black Lives Matter" moniker around the country.
Farrakhan also paid tribute to the 'Black Lives Matter' movement, saying its members represent “future leadership.”
The original march on Oct. 16, 1995, brought hundreds of thousands to D.C. to pledge to improve their lives, their families and their communities. The National Park Service estimated the attendance at the original march to be around 400,000, but subsequent counts by private organizations put the number at 800,000 or higher. The National Park Service has refused to give crowd estimates on Mall activities since.
Organizers estimated hundreds of thousands of participants would attend this year's event.
President Barack Obama, who attended the first Million Man March, will be in California on Saturday.