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Angela Davis Denounces Farrakhan March For Excluding Women

October 13, 1995 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ A black men’s march on Washington ``seeks to make women lesser partners in this quest for equality,″ and should be shunned, activist Angela Davis said Friday on behalf of a group formed in opposition to the event.

The former Black Panther, now a college professor, and several other prominent blacks denounced the Million Man March and its organizer, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

``No march, movement or agenda that defines manhood in the narrowest terms and seeks to make women lesser partners in this quest for equality can be considered a positive step,″ said Davis, speaking for the new group, African-American Agenda 2000. ``Therefore, we cannot support this march.″

One march organizer said Friday that women, though they are not invited, will not be barred.

Former NAACP director Ben Chavis, who is helping Farrakhan organize the event, told CNN on Friday: ``If a black woman shows up she will be given respect. She will be allowed to join the assembly.

``Will she be excluded? The answer is no,″ he added.

Davis said she understood ``the attraction of the march″ at a time when opportunities for black men are limited and violence, drugs, poverty and crime are widespread.

But she added: ``There are ways of understanding black masculinity that do not rely on subjugating women.″

Farrakhan has described the march as a ``day of atonement″ for black men who continue ``the abuse of women that our slave masters put in motion.″ He has also said the march will give black men an opportunity to resume some of their responsibilities as breadwinners and community leaders _ burdens that Farrakhan believes black women have unfairly had to shoulder.

While some women have enthusiastically supported the all-male endeavor, Marcia Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Ms. magazine, said such support is misguided.

``They are stepping up to a patriarchal vision that automatically says black men are the leaders, and that women’s place and role is with the children, frying the chicken, providing medical assistance when needed and writing a poem. I don’t think so,″ Gillespie said.

Another member, historian and author Paula Giddings, said African-American Agenda 2000 is concerned not only about Farrakhan’s sexism, but also his anti-Semitism, anti-gay remarks and his ``anti-Catholicism and anti-black Christian ministers″ attitudes.

``On Tuesday,″ she said, ``he will emerge as one of the most influential spokesmen of black America,″ boding ill for blacks who want to build bridges, Giddings said.

Davis said African-American Agenda 2000 would go about ``combating racism, sexism and homophobia,″ but did not give specifics.