One In a Million
In the decade since the Million Man March in Washington, our chains and rims have gotten bigger and flashier, yet the divide between haves and have-nots grows larger. And we've suffered renewed wars, both domestic (re-escalating gang violence, the murders of rappers, electoral controversies, the 9/11 tragedy.) and abroad (Afghanistan and Iraq.) These wars have made our nation more fractious and fearful than ever before. Perhaps these conditions explain why Minister Farrakhan joined with a newly reunited Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to call both men and women to a Millions More March in Washington this fall. The aim? Unity in the community.
As someone who attended the '95 march, I can testify to the power of such unity. The gathering was a spiritual high, a collage of epiphanies that, if you were there, will never be forgotten: the breaking of bread and heart-to-heart dialogues, and the submitting of oneself to a group movement of a million-plus black men, and the largest and most peaceful demonstration ever in the nation's capital. It was our own African-American Mecca. But 10 years later, how effective was the March? As a kick in the pants for individual empowerment and responsibility, it was a success, given the scores of personal testimonies regarding child adoption, voter registration and activism. As an impetus for a major movement that would lead the underclass out of their condition, it left something to be desired. This would require strong organizations and leadership, which itself requires consistent, disciplined and focused struggle. In that light, the comparisons of the 1995 March to Dr. Martin Luther King's 1968 March on Washington were misguided. The former event sought to inaugurate a movement; the latter was the culmination of one.