Film honors 1995's Million Man March

October 12, 2005|By CARL SCHOETTLER | CARL SCHOETTLER,SUN REPORTER

The Million Man March of 1995 has not yet achieved the mythic aura of the "I Have a Dream" speech of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. But it has become a modern landmark for African-American men, symbolizing a rededication to home, family and moral values.

Clips from a new documentary being made to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Oct. 16, 1995, Washington march will be shown tonight at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture. An anniversary march, the Millions More Movement, will be held this weekend in Washington.

And Clayton LeBouef, familiar to Baltimore audiences as Capt. George Barnfather on the TV series Homicide: Life on the Street and as Orlando on The Wire, will present a spoken word performance and lecture tonight. He was at the march 10 years ago.

Called A Glimpse of Heaven: The Legacy of the Million Man March, the film is a work in progress, says producer Stacey Muhammad, president of Wildseed Films.

She was on the staff of Benjamin F. Chavis, the former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People executive director who was chief organizer of the 1995 march.

The march was conceived of by Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, who called for "a million sober, disciplined, committed, dedicated, inspired black men to meet in Washington on a day of atonement."

The Millions More celebration will be held on the National Mall. "This gathering will probably represent the broadest and most diverse coalition of African-Americans and those of African decent throughout the Diasporas since slavery," said the Rev. Willie Wilson, national executive director of the movement.

As for the film, A Glimpse of Heaven is scheduled to be completed and released in April.

"In preparation for the Millions More Movement," Muhammad said, "we just wanted to put together a documentary that celebrated the legacy, the impact, the history and the accomplishments of the Million Man March."

"We are going to move forward and [interview] a lot of the men who went to the Million Man March and went back to their communities and started community centers and mentoring programs," Muhammad said, "a lot of families who adopted children after the ... march, the people who organized and planned for the march [and] of course, Minister Farrakhan."

About an hour of the film will be shown tonight, including archive footage from the march, news programs from 1995 with Farrakhan and Chavis, men on the Mall, and interviews conducted for the documentary, including those with women who were at the march. Muhammad did most of the filming.

She's worked on independent films for about three years, mostly as a writer. This is her first production on her own. A native of New Orleans, she's been in the Washington area since 1989 and graduated from the Duke Ellington School of the Performing Arts. Muhammad then spent two years with the scholarship program of Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York before turning her attention to film. She lives in Upper Marlboro.

She studied screenwriting at Howard University with Haile Gerima, an Ethiopian-born filmmaker who made the widely shown movie, Sankofa, a tale about a modern woman and slavery. Her film production teacher at Howard, Derek Whitfield, is editing the documentary.

"I was at the Million Man March," Muhammad said, "and I saw the beauty of that day and wanted to do something on film that documented the legacy and impact and accomplishments of the march."

carl.schoettler@baltsun.com

If you go

Scenes from "A Glimpse of Heaven: The Legacy of the Million Man March" will be shown at 7 tonight at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, 830 E. Pratt St. $5 (members free). 443-263-1800 or africanamericanculture.org

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