Marchers at the first African Liberation Day march held in the United States turn onto Florida Ave. from 16th St. NW after leaving Malcolm X (Meridian Hill) Park May 27, 1972.
The nearly all-black crowd estimated at 12,000 wound its way through Embassy Row where short rallies were held at the South African and Portuguese Embassies, the Rhodesian information office and the State Department where the US was denounced for evading international sanctions by permitting trade and investment in white-controlled African countries.
At the time white settler governments ruled over Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South Africa, and Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau were still direct colonies of Portugal. Armed liberation struggles and political resistance were underway in all four countries by the overwhelmingly black population.
The march ended on the grounds of the Washington Monument that was renamed by the marchers "Lumumba Square" after assassinated Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba.
Speakers included Osusu Sadaukai, march organizer and president of the Malcolm X Liberation University in Greensboro, NC, Amiri Baraka, Haki R. Madhubuti, George Wiley, Cleveland Sellers, Elaine Brown and Walter Fauntroy. A telegram from Kwame Ture was read to the crowd.
Speakers voiced support for the liberation movements and condemned the US for its support of the minority regimes and for its prosecution of the Vietnam war.
The first meeting of 32 independent African countries to form the Organization of African Unity was held May 25, 1963. At the meeting Africa Freedom Day, that had been celebrated on April 15, was changed to May 25 and renamed African Liberation Day.
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Photo by Paul Schmick. Courtesy of the DC Public Library Washington Star Collection © Washington Post. Copied with a Nikon D-5100 from an original print.