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After months of behind-the-scenes wrangling over whether Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan's Millions More Movement rally in Washington, D.C., this weekend would include gays and lesbians, it was announced Thursday that black gay activist Keith Boykin would speak at the event. Boykin, president of the gay rights group National Black Justice Coalition, is expected to speak on Saturday.
Farrakhan has been accused of antigay rhetoric in the past, and at least some march organizers have publicly denounced homosexuality in recent months. But NBJC's Ray Daniels said Farrakhan has "faced his shortcomings head on and has made a concerted effort" to reach out to gays and other minority groups.
At the National Press Club on Thursday, Farrakhan said he wants the National Mall event, which is marking the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March, to be the start of a long-range movement to empower minorities, not just a one-day event. "We're tired of begging others to do for us what we have the capacity to pool our resources--intellectually and financially--to do for ourselves," Farrakhan said. "We will make demands from our government, but we know those demands will fall on deaf ears unless and until we are mobilized, sensitized, and extremely organized."
The Million Man March in 1995 was criticized for excluding women; this year's rally will include women. Much of the emphasis will be on Hurricane Katrina and the many poor black residents of New Orleans whose lives were shattered by it. (AP)