“Justice or Else” was the theme of the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. On 10.10.15, I attended the gathering on the Capitol grounds. I was on the Mall 20 years ago. Below are my reflections after attending the event.
I hadn’t paid much attention to the “build-up” to yesterday’s event. Among “my circles,” there was no “buzz” about yesterday’s gathering like it was 20 years ago. No inquires: “Are you “attending?”
So the images of 20 years ago were informing what I was expecting yesterday. And yesterday, I did have similar experiences to the ones that I had 20 years ago.
However, what I discovered yesterday was this was not a Million Man March redux.
I quickly had to let go of the necessary sound bites and past images that I was using to put yesterday’s events into context for me. This was not a “Million Man March 2.0. “
This was a “Justice or Else!” event. Duh!
The was not a day for “atonement, reconciliation, and responsibility.”
This was a day to lay the groundwork for Black America and for all of America to avoid the “Or Else!”
What I discovered was that I was attending a display of diversity. I felt like I was watching the unfolding of a “Rainbow Coalition.”
I was hearing the voices of different ethnic and racial and language groups, religious communities, women, the youth, among others. Among the many things that Minister Farrakhan gave voice to was that the fact that Nation of Islam does not judge members of the LBGQT and that the Nation of Islam accepts all people….
What I discovered was that I was witnessing the formation of a movement to attend to the internal and external forces that are destroying our communities.
Voices were voices calling “Justice” — for the end of “white supremacy” and of “black negativity;” for going from the temporary events of the day to a permanent movement for social change and individual, community, and national development….
There was “The Call” for 10,000 Black Men to form cadre (i) to help our communities that are being ravaged by internal violence, (ii) to give people in those communities of hope, opportunities, programs, and structures to put an end to the violence; (iii) to rebuild our communities, and (iv) to reclaim our education and our economic development.
There were voices “prophesying” the “Or Else.”
… Echoes pulsating in the voices of many speakers of the answer Langston Hughes posed in his poem, “A Dream Deferred.”
… Echoes vibrating through the sound system of the warnings of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln of the internal contradictions and their explosive implications of having a society and economy built on “oppression.”
… Echoes resounding from many of the religious speakers, particularly of Minister Farrakhan, of “Biblical-like End of Times” judgment America and we face if injustice in not replaced with “Justice.”
I witnessed the creation of new images being and narratives. I was in awe as to the number of stories that were being re-written – the rightful heirs to Biblical history (to the real prophets are); the importance of Martin Luther King, Jr.; the relationship of the Nation of Islam to the death of Malcolm X. The list could go on.
I found myself being a part of and bearing witness to counter-narratives to the images of a Ferguson under siege, a Chicago or a DC racked by violence or Baltimore in distress.
I found myself being a part of and bearing witness to counter-narratives to the images of sagging pants, the “Black Lives” portrayed on “reality TV,” and forms of so-called “Black culture” that push us down rather than pull us up.
I found myself attending not a “march” of a million or whatever number of men, but a movement to reclaim our selves, communities, nation, and world.