Date: Sat, 29 Aug 98 22:54:17 CDT
From: Workers World <>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: Million Youth March moves forward
Article: 42138
To: undisclosed-recipients:;;

Defying New York mayor. . . Million Youth March moves forward

By Greg Butterfield, Workers World, 3 September 1998

New York— Organizers of the Million Youth March took Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the New York Police Department to court Aug. 21 for refusing to issue them a permit to march in Harlem on Sept. 5. They say the march will go on no matter what the outcome of an Aug. 26 federal court hearing.

MYM is expected to draw many thousands of Black and Latino youths, who plan to gather in the heart of the African American community, along Malcolm X Boulevard between 118th and 149th streets.

Claiming the march is a threat to public safety, Giuliani ordered the organizers to change its date to Sept. 19 and hold it on the city’s outskirts.

Giuliani has threatened a full-scale police occupation of Harlem. But organizers and residents say they will not surrender their rights.

Youths will travel from as far as California to join the march. The New York Times New Jersey edition of Aug. 23 reported that buses are expected from Trenton, Newark, Asbury Park and Jersey City.

Another gathering, billed as the Million Youth Movement, will take place in Atlanta from Sept. 4-7.

The New York march is coordinated by the NYC Black Power Committee and local committees across the United States. The December 12 Movement, a revolutionary African American organization, is playing a leading role in organizing the event.

In July, Giuliani attacked the MYM as a hate march, focusing exclusively on remarks made by Minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad, one of the march organizers. Since then, the entire New York business, media and political establishment has lined up against the march.

But the real reason behind the mayor’s hostility, say march supporters, is racism. They note that events of similar size, like the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade or ticker-tape parades for sports teams, have no problem getting authorization.

It’s a democratic rights issue, said Roger Wareham, a lawyer and activist who represents the march. It’s a human rights issue, and it’s simply the right of young people in their own community to assemble and to exercise their right to freedom of speech and freedom of association.


Empowerment of Black and Latino youth is the march’s theme. Among the MYM’s many progressive demands are jobs for youth, freedom for political prisoners, financial aid for students, environmental justice, the right to community self-defense, and an end to racism, sexism and police brutality.

The march will also call for community control over businesses and institutions that operate in Black and Latino neighborhoods, and reparations for centuries of exploitation.

Since November we have worked hard getting the word out to the media, elected officials, and the youth, explained Erica Ford, the march coordinator.

March supporters hold daily street meetings and press conferences to explain the real issues and rally community support.

More than 200 people turned out for a public forum at the National Black Theatre in Harlem Aug. 18, according to the Amsterdam News. The crowd overwhelmingly endorsed the youth march. They chanted, The march is on!

Harlem residents have begun making banners with messages like We support the Million Youth March. The banners are being draped from windows in the community as a visible show of solidarity with the youth.

While some elected officials in Harlem have distanced themselves from the march, many Black leaders are supporting it, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, the Rev. Calvin Butts III, and James Butler, president of public hospital workers Local 420 AFSCME. Butler told WBAI radio, This is a matter of self-determination.

Workfairness, which represents 9,000 city workfare participants, is mobilizing for the Million Youth March. A statement from the group says, The only prospect of violence [on Sept. 5] comes from the Giuliani administration, which is threatening to suppress the march.

The real issue, concludes Workfairness, is the struggle against a repressive City Hall that is hostile to the needs of the poor and communities of color.

We have been working tirelessly to bring about this march, said Malik Zulu Shabazz, a march leader. It will happen in Harlem. The march is on, and Harlem is ours.