On my way to the Million Man March I was both anxious and nervous. I questioned “will this actually bring upon a change”? I’ve accepted all the challenges from Minister Louis Farrakhan, to do my part in helping better my family, friends and community. I too encourage all males to accept these challenges to study and enlighten themselves on the brutal realities of our society. Here are seven important points I took away from the Million Man March. I believe all are essential to bring upon a change.
- Legacy of the Million Man March
October 16, 1995 was the day of the first Million Man March. An estimate of 1.1 million people gathered at the National Mall in Washington, DC to march for equality. The number of attendees were significantly higher than the March on Washington in 1963, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr where he delivered his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech. The first Million Man March went down in history as the largest assembly of Black men in United States history. Twenty years later, the Nation of Islam’s leader Minister Louis Farrakhan, who assembled the first march in 1995, called for another march titled “Justice Or Else”. After the first Million Man March, many Blacks accepted the challenge to better their communities. There were increased numbers in community organizations, Blacks voting, churches and mosques memberships, and the number of Black people adopting children. In spite of all the killings of unarmed Black people from police and citizens such as; Freddy Gray, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Eric Gardner just to name a few. It seemed like the right time to call for Justice.
Justice Or Else
This march is not only for justice for Black people but also for Native Americans, Latinos, Dominicans and Haitians. Sixty percent of the prison population is Black or Latino, one in every four Native Americans live in poverty and nearly thirty percent are without health insurance. Chief Ernie Longwalker of the Red Wine Nation, was one of the first to speak, he greeted the crowd by saying “I don’t know what to say my brothers and sisters. 500 years of oppression, 500 years looking for equality and justice…. If we can get our minds together and unite, we are the majority. We wouldn’t have to ask for equality and justice. We could just wave our fingers and demand it.” Minister Louis Farrakhan said during his speech, “There must come a time when we say enough is enough…. the OR ELSE is going to come from God.”
October 10, 2015, a day I will always remember for many reasons. The unity of all the people from different ethnic groups and religions astonishing to me. When I got out of the car and turned onto the block of the National Mall the first thing I saw was a group of people standing, selling t-shirts that read Black Lives Matter and singing “we shall overcome”. As I continued to walk towards the west lawn of the National Mall, where the speeches were being held, I started to see more vendors selling t-shirts, pins, pan african flags, posters, along with barbeque. Once I reached the lawn and saw the thousands of people standing, sitting, cheering, laughing I was overwhelmed with pride and joy. I witnessed one man offer to put a woman’s son on his shoulders, just so he could see. The loud cheers of my people was music to my ears. I got as close to the stage as I could, everybody welcomed me by saying “hello brother, come on in here” as I squeezed my way through the crowd. I ended up standing next to a man named Charles and his 15 year old son Joshua, who traveled from Chicago. I asked him did he attend the first Million Man March. He told me “Yes, it gave him a spirit of brotherhood, unity and a feeling of empowerment. I had never seen so many Black people united in one place. That’s why I had to bring my son to witness this!”
Unity (Black on Black crime)
The horrific account that sticks out to me is how the numbers of Black on Black murders have increased since 1995. Homicide is the leading cause of death among the Black youth ages 15-24. Minister Louis Farrakhan addressed the problem by saying, “I’m asking for 10,000 fearless men, to go into our communities because our war is on two fronts. We have to stop the killing in the inner-city and stop the killing of us from police wickedness. I want 10,000 men that we can train, because we have to stand between the guns… But you know when we go in our community to clean it up, we are going to run into rogue cops and wicked Black people… That means we have to be strong to stop the killings. I was with Martin Luther King III, he said “Farrakhan what can we do to turn this around?” I said brother we have to take your father’s philosophy of nonviolence and redirect it to Black people…. Teach love for one another; teach us to forgive each other for our acts of evil done.” Spotted among the thousands were notable celebrities such as J.Cole, Snoop Dogg, Diddy, Jeezy, Common and more. Such entertainers have the influence and platform to encourage young Black males to stop the killing of one another.
- Education System
In my educational experience especially in history class, I was not taught about the significant contributions of Black people. During the quest of educating myself on the history of my ancestors I was truly inspired to learn about their knowledge and way of living dating back to the world’s first civilizations. Minister Farrakhan suggested that the whole education system should be restructured. He said, “There’s no way we can make a good people and leave them under the education of white supremacy. We have to take over the education system, because the education that you’re receiving hasn’t made you a good people or better people. That system has to GO! All educators I am calling on you, we have brilliant educators. We don’t need to accept this poison doctrine of white supremacy any longer. Tomorrow morning I’ll like to see the scholars, at the JW Marriott. We have to talk about what we are going to do after today. I would like engineers of every kind, navigators, pilots, farmers, I want college presidents especially the black colleges. You got to know that you’re not a plantation to produce more dumb negroes with degrees. You got to make the colleges teach the things that will make young people builders instead of beggars.”
“Our women are the key, a nation is taken down through the woman and a nation goes up through the woman. Women are the greatest gift from God to man.” said Minister Farrakhan. Two million children are exploited every year in global commercial sex trade, 80% are girls. Women make up half of the world’s population and yet represents 70% of the world’s poor. The United States is one of only three countries in the world that DO NOT guarantee a paid maternity leave. Women in the U.S. earn on an average 75 cents less than men. Reverend Jamal Bryant said “We would be further along if 20 years ago we had brought the sisters with us. I’m thankful that the woman are standing with the brothers today!” Sister Andrea James representing the group “Returned Citizens for Justice said, “There has been an 800% increase of incarceration of Black women in the last 20 years. While in prison women are reduced to a number, stripped naked, groped, video taped, too often raped and exploited by male prison guards. When women are pregnant, while given birth they are shackled both limbs to the bed. Every woman is from the creator, her womb is the workshop of God. So when a man sees a woman, he should bow to her. Through the womb of a woman, every great one was born and every no good one was born. It is your body, you can do with it as you please. It would be so tragic if the next Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr., Moses, or Abraham or Jesus was flushed away. If you’re wise, your child would be the answers to your prayers,” said Minister Louis Farrakhan.
- Martin Luther King Jr.
“I went by Dr. King’s monument, I’ve learned to love my brother. Because if you would go study the speeches of the last two year’s in his life you would know Dr. King is not just a dreamer. Dr. King had awaken from that dream, he said and I quote “My dream have turned into a nightmare.” He was not a dreamer, he was a revolutionary thinker like his brother, brother Malcolm… Did you know that we spend almost half of the money that we take in, in a year during Christmas? We have 1.1 to 1.4 trillion dollars and 400 billion of it is spent during the Christmas holidays. Dr. King wanted us to redistribute the pain. Now suppose we decided this Christmas we are kicking santa to the curb. ” said Minister Louis Farrakhan.