By Carmen Glover
Twenty years ago on October 16, 1995, my brother Paul, was an engineering student at Howard University in Washington, DC. He heeded the call by the Nation of Islam’s Minister Louis Farrrakhan and Former NAACP leader Dr. Benjamin Chavis, the national director of the March, to show up at the Washington Mall in support of the Million Man March and the organizers’ goal of addressing the issues which caused Black men to be viewed as “an endangered species.”
Dubbed “The Million Man March: A Day of Atonement and Reconciliation,” the event was targeted to Black men, who were charged with cleaning up their lives and returning to home to offer hope, love, strength, healing and skills to improve and strengthen their families and communities.
“Standing on the mall, looking out, was a sea of Black men and boys. It was a powerful feeling to be a part of that,” said, Paul, now a successful entrepreneur and CEO of the engineering firm Complete Development Solutions (CDS). “I am glad that I went.”
As participants return to the mall this Saturday, October 10 for the “Justice or Else Rally” to re-assess the state of the Black male condition, the decline in Black communities, Black disenfranchisement, Black voter suppression, and a host of other issues relevant to the Black experience in the United States, one question will resonate: What has changed since the Million Man March was held 20 years ago?
Unarmed Black men are still being murdered or brutalized by renegade police officers, without provocation while Black women have now joined the ranks of those being preyed upon by law enforcement officials and regular citizens; Black children are losing their lives in greater numbers due to gun violence and Blacks, especially in the south, are being disenfranchised at the voting booths, with states such as Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina instituting repressive laws and initiatives designed to make it difficult or impossible for Blacks who are poor to vote, as is their right.
While the mood 20 years ago was described as one filled with hope and unity, this time around the mood is expected to be sprinkled with the anger and disappointment born of unfulfilled dreams and expectations. In 1995, Min. Farrakhan referenced Malcolm X and the struggles that the fiery civil rights leader experienced in resolving inequalities in the Black community. Today, police brutality, the Supreme Court’s destruction of key portions of the Voting Right Act and the plight of Black families will all be given attention at the “Justice or Else Rally,” which commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March.
In 1995 and today, many unresolved issues plague the Black community. While the “Justice or Else Rally” will not answer all questions related to the Black condition, its impact is expected to be just as significant as that of the Million Man March 29 years ago. The “Justice or Else Rally,” is organized to be a solid reminder that consistent action is necessary to effect the positive change that is needed to improve opportunities and outcomes across the USA. If you can make it to Washington for this historic event, go and let your voice be heard.–OnPointPress.net-