Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam was in Baltimore last night, preaching unity among all African-Americans and promoting the Million Family March scheduled for Oct. 16 in Washington.
The date marks the fifth anniversary of Farrakhan's Million Man March. Speaking at the Bread of Life Cathedral at Franklin and Cathedral streets, the Muslim leader invited black families of all backgrounds - from Christians to black nationalists to members of the Elks Club - to attend.
He also said he would like to see at least 10,000 African-American couples take marriage vows at the march and noted that because the event will be three weeks before the presidential election, it was a golden opportunity to promote a black agenda in Washington.
"I want everybody coming home," said Farrakhan in a speech that lasted more than two hours. "I want Christians to march under the cross and Muslims to march under the crescent and Hebrews to march under the Star of David. ... We're going to bring the street gangs under their colors, but we're going to tell them to leave their guns at home because you're coming to family."
In a heavily moralistic speech, Farrakhan repeatedly quoted the Koran and, to a lesser extent, the Bible, argued for the right of Catholic priests to marry and denounced homosexuality and sex outside marriage.
On the matter of reparations for the descendants of slaves, a movement gathering momentum in some state legislatures, the minister said a sum like $50,000 per family was not nearly enough and demanded land as well.
Farrakhan also spoke at length about the damage that slavery did to the black American family.
He repeatedly assailed the philosophy of white supremacy that he claimed was the foundation of all establishment institutions in the United States.
Farrakhan said that because no white people are alive who are responsible for slavery and its legacy - depriving blacks of the basic right to family - African-Americans must be responsible for correcting the situation by building self-sufficient families within a racist society.
"The needs of our people are not being met by the government. We must not fragment ourselves ... but the burden is not on white America, the burden is on you and me. ... You are responsible to correct the wrongs of yesterday," he said.