Millions of black Americans will participate in a "day of atonement" by staying home from work and school Thursday, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan predicts.
"We believe that it will be practiced in over 100 cities in America and it will grow from year to year," Farrakhan said Sunday. He said he thought millions would participate in the observance.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 also was a political message: "When whites of this nation wake up 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, then you begin to think how relevant and how important are black people to this nation."
Asked whether black athletes should miss their games, he said, "That's a personal decision each participant will have to make."