Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is urging black Americans to stay home from work and school on Thursday to honor a “day of atonement” that he said would tell whites they can no longer take blacks for granted.
Farrakhan, interviewed Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” predicted millions would participate in the observance. “We believe that it will be practiced in over 100 cities in America and it will grow from year to year,” he said.
He said the day, coming on the second anniversary of the “Million Man March” in Washington that Farrakhan organized, has its roots in the Jewish day of atonement.
“We believe that the children of Israel are a sign or a prototype of the 400-year suffering of blacks in America. Since we are not quite slaves and not quite free, we are somewhat in the same position as the children of Israel in the wilderness.”
But he said there was also a political message: “When whites of this nation wake up on that morning and they don’t see their cook or they go to the airport and we don’t see the baggage carrier or you don’t hear the music or you don’t see the face of black people, then you begin to think how relevant and how important are black people to this nation.”
Farrakhan has urged black athletes as well to stay home. Asked whether players in the baseball playoffs or pro football games should miss their games, he said,”that’s a personal decision that each participant will have to make.”