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Peaceful March Inspires Spokane Blacks

African Americans in Spokane praised Monday’s peaceful Million Man March and were inspired to plan a similar event on Saturday.

“The message is, ‘Black men, you need to make change,”’ said V. Anne Smith, president of the Spokane chapter of The Links Inc., an African American women’s service organization. “It’s refreshing to hear those words but I’m waiting to see the follow-up.”

While Smith and others stressed they aren’t followers of controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, they believe the march was a good first step.

Ivan Bush, a former director of the Martin Luther King center, said all African American men are invited to a workshop at the East Central Community Center from 7 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Workshop participants will discuss family life, education, law enforcement and making Spokane a better place.

“We’re coming together to show support for the Million Man March,” Bush said. “It’s going to be in the essence of atonement.”

Monday, Smith stayed tuned to her television to watch the men - and some women - flood the streets of Washington, D.C.

“I saw healing today,” said Smith, who began watching at 6 a.m. “I was inspired to see those fathers who brought their sons there.”

Billy Morris, president of the Spokane chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the march was a good idea, even though the NAACP didn’t endorse the event.

Area members responded favorably to the march at a meeting Monday night, Morris said.

“How many times have you seen that many people get together without incident?” he said.

Carl Maxey, a Spokane attorney, said the march was a great means of advocacy for African Americans, despite some of Farrakhan’s belief.

“I don’t want to get lost in the conversation of Louis Farrakhan and his anti-Semitic remarks because I’m not anti-Semitic,” he said.

The march should inspire African American men to save their families and communities.

“If we don’t get ourselves off the bottom of the pile, there’s no white people who will help us,” he said.

, DataTimes