Million Man March: 20 Years Later
At the crack of dawn, thousands of people were prepping and getting ready for a historical day. It was a very chilly Saturday morning; chilly to the point where I could barely feel my finger tips. People from all over the country were making their way to the district to be a part of a monumental movement.
It is/was a wonderful time to be melanated in America. You’re wise and hungry for knowledge, as well as full of pride. The feeling of being a part of something tremendous or historical speaks volumes. You can say for yourself and anyone that asks “I was there,” “I experienced this,” and “I have a story to tell.”
With all of the unjust acts of violence and racial inequality that goes on in this country day by day, it is easy to identify or want to be part of a movement that wants to advocate against it. Historical moments happen ever so often, so being able to attend the Million Man March 20-year anniversary was a complete eye opener.
The day turned out to be perfect for the occasion; the sun shone over everyone in attendance and melanin glistened in abundance. As I got closer to the capitol building, I heard mumbled discussions, laughter, and saw people walking past me with “Justice or Else”, #BlackLivesMatter, and plenty of other creative protest shirts. Street vendors were yelling “2 for 20!” in regards to all of their memorabilia being sold. I never felt so comfortable in a crowd of strangers before in my life.
It didn’t dawn on me exactly how many men, women, and children were in attendance until overhead photos were released. All I can say is “Wow!” it was a movement of immaculate proportions to say the least. There wasn’t an ounce of green grass in any of these photos, just a rainbow of tiny beads of people all chanting and listening as one.
The Million Man March’s theme for this 20 year anniversary was “Justice or Else” because the amount of wrongdoing that is going on in this country is absolutely ridiculous; it’s entirely sickening at this point. How many more times do we have to #SayHerName or remember that #HeHasAName until we receive some sort of justice? How many young kings and queens have to be turned into a hashtag? It’s becoming way too common and my heart goes out to the families of these fallen beings.
Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan guided the crowd with his words and his viewpoints on what it’s going to take for serious change to come our way. He made an excellent point on how important it is for younger generations to step up and get in the know. There were so many “amens” and “yes!” as he spoke that it’s impossible to say that there was complete silence during his speech, but there was a calm buzz of concentration.
Every person was listening and letting the moment and words marinate within them. If you want to be totally honest, the leaders of the Million Man March of today might not be around for the 30th or 40th year anniversary; it is simply up to us.
The movement will be redundant if the right people don’t take charge to keep the message alive. My generation and the many to come are fearless and know what is right and what’s wrong. We can change the hands of time if we took it upon ourselves to act as one. Farrakhan asked the crowd what good will his generations have been if they didn’t hand down the proper knowledge to us and in realistic terms keep us #WOKE.
It was enlightening to see not only so many distinguished men in attendance, but so many supportive women as well. Mothers and daughters alike were in the streets of DC marching for a cause and standing up for their brothers and husbands. Entire families walked these streets in matching t-shirts proudly; there were truly beautiful moments made that day. The theme wasn’t completely geared to men this year and the speeches that were presented spoke to any and everybody.
Being that we live in a very digital age, most if not all of the coverage for this march happened thanks to social media. The website JusticeOrElse.com was created to stream the entire event, promote awareness and keep the public posted. The hashtags #JusticeOrEllse and #MillionManMarch showed you the mass of people who attended. It was truly phenomenal.
Any time a large group of African Americans meet up for a movement of positivity, it shows you just how proud we are as a people. So many people from different walks of life chanted, sang, and stood together in harmony; there was nothing but absolute peace!
I met so many strong individuals at this march and it made me feel amazing to be a part of it. While walking and snapping photos of the scenery, I met a mother who lost her son as well as her sons best friend 5 months apart. I was honestly at a loss for words. The mother just kept saying over and over, “Stop killing us, black lives do matter.” I really couldn’t fathom the pain she went thru during the passing of her son. She’s an amazing being for coming out, chanting, and telling her story. Those are the people whose stories need to be heard.
This is an experience that one should never forget. Take the knowledge you gained and teach others around you.
By: Rakiya George