By Abdul Malik Mujahid
He could barely walk. He could not even stand straight probably because of his age. But he marched for about two miles with ten thousand plus people on April 9, 2011 protesting war and asking for peace. I walked with him. He only paused a few brief moments to sip a little water but did not rest. Sam initially did not share his age with me. But at the end of the rally he told me he is 87 years old. The first time he had marched in a rally was in the 60s. I didn’t want to part from his wisdom so I forwent my invitation to join the leaders at the front of the march. I marveled while walking with Sam how committed his generation is to peace; his resilience, determination, and patience are a lesson for all of us who wish to work towards peace and justice. Sam probably did not want to forgo the largest anti-war rally in New York in five years.
It was heartening for me to see the lively gathering of such diverse people coming together for peace, and justice. Although the resilient peaceniks generation was well represented, there was a refreshing presence of younger people as well as African Americans, Latinos and Muslims of diverse backgrounds. This pointed out the fact that the United National Anti-War Committee (UNAC) has come long way from its Albany summit last July where white folks of the sixties were the majority. More than 500 organizations endorsed this rally. Sara Flounders, one of the organizers felt that there were about 15,000 people who attended the rallies. Joe Lambardo, the co-chair of the United National Anti-War Committee said that “The march stretched for over 20 blocks at one point.”
There was another significant rally taking place simultaneously in Time Square in support of Wisconsin labor. If both rallies were put together it might have been 50,000 strong. Unfortunately both rallies were miles apart, both still need to get the message from Wisconsin that war at home and war abroad are connected, money being spent in war is being sucked from social programs, economic programs and the workers unions’ ability to bargain.
Major peace movement leaders like the former Attorney General Ramzi Clark, famous anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, & former Army Colonel Ann Wright who used to work for the state department were the major speakers.
A prominent element of this rally was the extraordinary mobilization of the Muslim Peace Coalition USA. More than a hundred Imams, led by Imam Shamsi Ali, Imam Al-Ameen Abdul Latif, and Imam Dalouer Hossain broke the silence of Muslims by opposing war. Often Muslims are so busy condemning terrorism, almost five times a day that it seems it is a pillar of Islam. Yet Imams are more effective when they have connected war, terror, and Islamophobia as the conjoined triplet of evil. I sincerely hope that we will continue to see more of such movements that bring together diverse people in a shared effort to combat the injustices and dangers we as a nation and society face.
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