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More than 30 black students gathered on the steps of Widener Library yesterday afternoon to commemorate the first anniversary of the Million Man March and recognize the diversity of opinions within the black community.
Members of the Black Students' Association (BSA), which sponsored the hour and a half-long event, addressed both their unique and common experiences as blacks.
At the rally which featured an open microphone, BSA members related personal anecdotes, read poetry and discussed their opinions on political issues such as welfare and affirmative action.
The event was also intended to raise awareness of the goals of last year's Million Man March, according to John R. Marks '99, publicity chair of the BSA.
The Million Man March was organized in Washington by Rev. Louis Farrakhan, who called upon a million followers to declare it "a day of atonement." Its purpose was "to reverse some of the negative things that have gone on in the black community," Marks said.
The march "called for all black men, regardless of religion, ethnicity, creed or sexuality, to come together, march on Washington and let the world know that black men are here as a force," Marks added.
An anniversary celebration of the Million Man March was also held in New York yesterday morning with an unexpectedly low turnout of 10,000, according to the Associated Press.
Yesterday's rally tied in to the march as a display of unity by the Harvard black community. But the demonstration was primarily intended as an expression of diversity of experiences within the community, organizers said.
Derrick N. Ashong '97, president of the BSA, said yesterday's rally allowed students "an opportunity to share and reflect upon their experiences as black students from a diversity of backgrounds."
Dolyta B. Avant '99, the Minority Students Alliance representative from the BSA, said, "We are trying to avoid a monolithic view of the black community."
The casual atmosphere of the rally allowed anyone to step up to the microphone and participate in the event, Marks said.
The BSA's next event, "African Diaspora," is scheduled for November 16 and will address the theme of Africans around the world.
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