Philadelphia was the nation’s first capital and home of the Declaration of Independence. Now it and could be the site of a revitalization of the black community in America, according to organizers of the 16th anniversary of the Million Man March being held in the city this weekend.

Organizers said Philadelphia was chosen as this year’s backdrop because it sent approximately 200,000 black men — the most of any city — to the 1995 March in Washington, D.C. The weekend’s events begin Friday with a Day of Atonement and conclude Sunday with an address by the Nation of Islam’s Minister Louis Farrakhan at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The focus this year is on addressing hunger, street violence and political accountability.

“Something really big is going to come from Philadelphia this weekend, and I believe that it will spread throughout this whole country,” said Minister Ismael Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam’s second-in-command. “That’s what we’re missing: brotherly love. We couldn’t have chosen a better city at this time.”

 

Music mogul and developer Kenny Gamble, who’s part of the local organizing committee, said that while black people have made tremendous progress — including the election of Barack Obama — they still face challenges in education and economic development.

“This 16th anniversary is maintenance,” Gamble said. “We’re reminding people of the commitments that have to be made. We’re reaching out to the young ones who weren’t born yet so they can experience the vibration that’s going to be felt.”

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