On October 10th I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C with a diverse group of intelligent, thoughtful and justice-driven individuals. We all journeyed together on bus to D.C for The 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March. Justice Or Else was an incredible experience. There were vendors selling everything from wristband to books, the red, black and green of the Pan-African flag flew high, and the weather was beautiful. There were a slew of guest speakers. Baptist preachers, organizers, politicians and community leaders all spoke about the significance of this day and effort. Leaders of the indigenous Native American community spoke and stressed our need to work together for justice. Latino leaders urged us to organize together and recognize the similarities in our oppression.
The Nation Of Islam had heavy influence over the event obviously. There were Fruit Of Islam members scatted throughout the grounds. There were Women of the Nation at donation stations. Many of those on stage were members of the NOI. There were nearly a dozen members with various titles that went on stage to speak. Their messages were Black Nationalist in rhetoric and the energy they spread with their words kept the crowd engaged and impassioned. Tamika Mallory was a highlight for me. She talked about her desire for justice, not for herself, but for her young son. She said it was our duty to create a great reality for our children, so they can experience more freedom than we could ever imagine. I felt every word of her speech and her presence on stage demanded the attention of everyone in attendance.
There was countless black people in attendance. Some came prepared with lawn chairs, others had brought food with them, and we were all there in solidarity. There were Christians, Muslims, poor folks, rich folks and every other type of black in between. We were all there for the same reason and with the same goal. Sometimes its hard to believe that we have the capacity to organize like this, but I saw it that day. Its fascinating that Louis Farrakhan, one of the most polarizing black figures in America, can galvanize the community better than other black “leaders”. When he finally go on the podium the crowd was on their feet. Children were placed on the shoulders of their parents, and elders lifted themselves to their feet to see Farrakhan. The crowd cheered for minutes and when they settled Farrakhan jumped into his long, winding and powerful lecture. It was disappointing that there weren’t more tangible or concrete plans discussed, but seeing black people active in their fight for justice is uplifting.
On our way back home we had a great discussion on the bus. We asked each other what to do next and things we can do differently to uplift one another and our community. These are more of the conversations we need to have and I’m glad I was able to be a part of the conscious dialogue.