(THE PICKET)—Oct. 16, 1995, Minister Louis Farrakhan called upon a million black men to take part in a march on Washington where they would gather at the D.C. National Mall downtown.
A million plus men of color answered that calling and assembled together in peace, harmony and as a unified people with the same objective. The purpose of this march was to address the problems of black communities and call for unity and revitalization of African American communities.
Furthermore, on that day of the march all of black America was encouraged by Farrakhan not to spend any money that day to illustrate to the United States the importance of African American dollars to the national economy. This march took America by storm, every news station was broadcasting the event and it truly sent a message of the capabilities of Black America.
I’m proud to say I was a part of that first march. I was one when my father brought me to this historical event in a stroller and 20 years later I’m reliving history as I participate in another million man march. Oct. 10, 2015, is a day that I will always remember—the day another million man march of men, women and children of all backgrounds unified for justice on the D.C National Mall, called upon by Farrakhan. Now, at 21, I’m retaking those same steps my father took, participating in history on my own two feet and witnessing the true unity among people.
That morning I woke up for the march I felt so much positive energy all around me and I hadn’t even left the house where I was staying. It was a beautiful day, bright blue city skies without a cloud in sight and excitement filled the air. My friend Micah and I caught an Uber from the brownstones where we were staying near Howard University to the National Mall.
You could sense there was something major taking place because the city never seemed so empty as we made our way to the march. After arriving I had seen where the city had gone. Exiting the Uber I was engulfed in a wave of participators, spectators and of course vendors who were trying to sell every type of million man march souvenir you can imagine. We were near the reflecting pool and it was just phenomenal how many people I saw stretching back and around the pool and monument, all I could do was smile and embrace it.
We wanted to be up close near the Capitol where the speakers were so we maneuvered our way until eventually we were in the grass field in front of the building. There were many speakers that day, all with great speeches but as I reflect on it I was so taken by the gathering of people I found myself seldom listening. I was doing more picture taking than anything. It was not until the main speaker, the man who called upon the first and now the second march was about to speak did I snap out of it and listen intensely.
Farrakhan spoke for two and a half hours on a range of topics, some of which I understood and others I did not. He spoke about the mass incarceration of black men in America, police brutality. He praised the Black Lives Matter movement on all they have been doing and accomplished. Farrakhan expressed the importance of black unity and black economical practice.
He left no topic untouched it seemed. Even speaking on child abuse, the corrosive nature of colonialism, corruption and edits made to Jefferson’s initial draft of the Declaration of Independence. He talked about natural disasters and the natural rights of man. As well as the wealthy one percent that control the center of the presidential elections.
When it was all said and done I was overwhelmed. I was not sure if I heard a plan of action that needs to be taken to make these changes a reality. Regardless, I just appreciated that awareness were brought to these issues, that we showed that this is just a start to something greater in the future. This demonstration let America know that we will not stand aside and be silent while social injustice happens or any other overlooked controversial issue occurs.
This event really helped me embrace who I am and where I come from. I was able to see black people from all different parts of the country, from all different walks of life stand together as one. What made this even more memorable is that I was able to share this moment with my friend, my brother, Micah Johnson.
“The march was breathtaking. To have the opportunity to be around so much positive energy and participate in such an historical event was a blessing. This is something I will be able to tell my children I participated in. It amazed me at how many people came out. One of the many things I gained from this event was that there is strength in numbers,” Johnson said. “I hope to be able to participate in the many more million man marches to come.”
I just wish that 20 years from now another march takes place for my kids to do as I did and as my father did and march in history.
Da’shawn Long is a staff writer for The Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Instagram @sirswave