It was on 16 October, 1995, that the Million Man March arrived in the Nation’s Capital. The event was Chaired by Dr. Ben Chavis with the NAACP and the Nation of Islam being the key organizers.
Those who could not participate in person staged teach-ins, voter registration drives, and similar events in their own communities.
A year prior to the march, Republicans made historic gains in the mid-term elections, sweeping into legislative power with Newt Gingrich’s ‘Contract with America’ proposals. Leaders in the African-American community felt that this legislative Agenda did little to address problems of unemployment and lack of social services that beset America’s urban areas. Many also saw a need specifically to reduce or reverse a negative image being perpetuated of the African-American male.
A stage was erected in front of the US Capitol building and the program featured veterans of the Civil Rights movement, such as Rosa Parks, leading intellectuals like Cornell West, and elected officials, including DC Mayor, Marion Barry.