Local News

Nation of Islam Wants Million Man March Anniversary Declared a Religious Holiday

Posted October 8, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The Nation of Islam wants October 16th declared a religious holiday and it's calling upon school leaders in Durham to give students the day off to observe the Million Man March anniversary.

Lots of strong opinions surrounded the suggestion, which almost turned into a debate over the policies of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. The school said the rules cannot allow it to release students for such an event. Whether or not absences are excused at individual schools will be left up to principals.

Farrakhan and Durham followers want school officials to excuse students to honor the second anniversary, but some people think it's a bad idea.

Ronnie Sturdivant isn't a Nation of Islam follower, but he's sympathetic to the cause. He said with all of the challenges faced by today's young people, they need a time of reckoning.

Ann Denlinger, Durham superintendent, said it's a simple equation. There will be no system-wide holiday on October 16.

Denlinger said she's following the rules. There are a minimum number of days a student must attend to be passed on to the next grade. She said she would rather see people do events like this on the weekend, and one group in Durham is sponsoring one. This Saturday is Black Family Day at Hillside Park, and event that will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It's being publicized as a day of unity, and people said it will be a better way to mark the event than taking a day off of school.

The Million Man March was held on the Washington Mall Oct. 16th, 1995. This October 25th, African-American women will gather in Philadelphia for the Million Woman March. Services, speeches and spiritual rallies will begin at sunrise and last straight through sunset. Similar to the Million Man March, the mission will be to strengthen the African American community.