February 2006 is Black History Month and, according to human rights and religious activists, Protect Darfur Month.
What better way to commemorate the month honoring African American history than by protecting the people of Darfur, said Emira Wood, co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus, at a rally Thursday.
The skies cleared up for some 100 activists, holding signs to stop the genocide in Darfur, to join the Africa Action-led rally at the south end of the White House. As the Bush administration has taken over the presidency of the United National Security Council this month, activists saw an opportune time to urge for action for the millions suffering in Darfur.
Rally participants who came from all over the world, including Rwanda and several states, were called to not let the issue come to rest or let one day pass by without putting pressure on the Bush administration during the crucial month.
Wanting nothing short of a U.N. resolution that would authorize immediate action, Salih Booker, executive director of Africa Action, said to the crowd, "We don't need another statement. We need a resolution."
Joining Booker, the crowd shouted, "Some old statement is not a solution. We need a resolution."
Church World Service Associate Director Fidele Lumeya spoke for the organization's partners in Sudan, calling for a stronger international response to the humanitarian crisis, a broader mandate of peacekeeping in Darfur, and the reconstituting of African Union troops on the grounds.
Working through local partners, Church World Service has five programs implemented in response to the Sudanese crisis, including food distribution, hospitals and centers for trauma awareness and resiliency.
Over 400,000 people have died since the conflict began in early 2003, with 3.5 million driven into hunger and another 2.5 million displaced.
"One, two, three, four; stop the violence in Darfur," chanted the crowd numerous times during the hour-long rally.
With the humanitarian situation still catastrophic, the people were urged to no longer passively stand and do nothing.
Speaking both in the event of Black History Month and Protect Darfur Month, leading human rights activist and radio host Joe Madison said in voice that a megaphone could no more amplify to stand up "in the true spirit of Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks."
The churches, synagogues, colleges and individuals represented at the rally were called to help protect the people of Darfur by emulating the lives of King and Parks who courageously stood up in their own way for civil rights.
African Action, a national organization that works to support African struggles for peace and development, is sponsoring another rally in New York on Feb. 8 near the offices of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations to further pressure the U.S. government for a U.N. resolution.