As I exit the subway and walk closer to the National Mall there was a sense of electricity in the air, an electricity created by anticipation I think to myself “I’m Here! I’m actually at the Million Man March” The air was cool, crisp and sunny coupled with a light moisture on the ground from morning dew, it was a perfect fall morning. I hear chatter in the air as people are walking towards the US Capitol Building. I see a plethora of Black Pride shirts that range from the Who’s who of Black Activist Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to common rallying cries of “No Justice No Peace,” “I Can’t Breath,” “Justice or Else” and Pan African-ism.
Seeing all the faces of people who I look up to and read so much about, on the shirts of people who look like me created a level of excitement in me that only grew as I took steps towards the capitol. It was Amazing!!! There were enormous screens strategically placed all over the National Mall, the kind of screens used in outdoor concerts like Bonaroo and Summer Jam, featured prayers from Christian and Islamic leaders to begin the day. It was astonishing to see the sheer amount of Black people in the area all gathered together for a common purpose.
That purpose was echoed with the cry of “Justice or Else” As I stood in place there were people as far as you can see. People filled with Joy, excitement, and the mindset to improve the quality of life for black people in America. The sense of community and family was so strong! People would bump into each other and say “excuse me Brother” or “ Hey sister can you take our picture?” It was contagious.
I found myself saying sister and brother to everyone, which prior to me coming would have been “My bad bro” if I bumped into you or “Excuse me maam, can you take our picture?” There was certainly a sense of oneness in the atmosphere a oneness caused by the common struggle we face in America due to our skin color. The Million Man March featured a dynamite list of spirited speakers from the families of our fallen brothers and sisters, the families of Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, and Michael Brown, to Christian Pastors Jeremiah Wright and Reverend Jamal Bryant, Islamic Leaders Nuri Muhammad and the sons of the illustrious Elijah Muhammad, to hip hop artist New York native Mysonne.
Speaker after speaker the level of emotion and anticipation increased when speakers incorporated the Fatal Last words of Eric Garner “I can’t breathe” and unifying cry of “Say Her Name” that was instituted on social media after the unjust death of Sandra Bland.
As we await the Keynote speaker, the Honorable Louis Farrakhan, a 4 min slideshow was played over every screen and loud speaker showing the pictures of all the Black and Brown people killed by police within the past few years, accompanied by a live Choir singing classic Gospel song “For Every Mountain.” The crowd went deathly quiet as we watched the numerous faces pass by the screen understanding that these people are our mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, and could very easily be us. Every now and then you hear “That’s a D**n Shame” or look over and see people weeping and it was a sobering thought that we are really being hunted and not much has changed in 50 years.
The slideshow set the stage the for the man of the hour the Minister Louis Farrakhan. In anticipation the mood quickly changed from somber to excitement as he walked to stage heavily guarded. Min Farrakhan wasted no time and made no bones about why he called together the march.
He opened his speech by giving thanks to all that came out, and gave a heartfelt apology to the Native Americans who suffer and have been overtaken in their own land. He then began to express his deep disdain for the American Government and went on to elaborate and use colorful language on how he was “Knee Deep in their A**.” He also began to quote scripture from both the Bible and Quran on how if America doesn’t treat its minority population better it will experience the judgment and wrath of God.
His comments elicited and favorable response from the crowd with shouts of praise, cheering and Amen. He then moved to the state of black men and how we are to respect or black women and how they are precious and should be treated as such. “You can’t say you love black people and, and mistreat the black woman.”
He also touched on a highly debated social issue of pro-life vs pro-choice. By sharing his personal story of his mother attempting 3 separate occasions to abort him, he stated that a woman’s baby is precious and she doesn’t know what greatness she’s carrying. It would be a shame to end that life, but it’s still her body.
He went further to echo’s Marcus Garvey’s back to Africa ideology and much more.
Farrakhan’s speech garnered a highly accepted response from both men and women and very memorable. The underlying theme is we need to protect our women, make the government feel our pain through our spending power, stand up to the abuse of the police and not fear death, and lastly end the killing of one another.
After his speech I truly felt empowered and ready to tackle the world, along with so many others. Seeing everyone stopping and taking pictures with complete strangers, and overhearing conversations that sounded like “Hey when I get back home I’m going to email you my resume, lets connect and figure out how we can you a job” ,or “Hey girl follow me on Instagram you can see all of my products.”
If only one connection was made or only one new idea was formed that will be used to uplift the Black community, promote black business and unify resources then the Million Man March was a success! Well done Mr. Farrakhan! This rally was not a magic bullet and all the problems of the black community will not be solved overnight but with diligence and dedication we will see better days as the old proverb 27:18 says “ He who tends to a fig tree will eat of its fruit” and that I do believe.
Love, Peace, and Equality
Xavier Q. Keen