October 16, 2014

Do You Remember the Million Man March?

Our Million Man March occurred 19 years ago today. October 16, 1995. Over one million brothers standing peacefully on the mall of the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC ... with millions more watching on television around the world took a pledge to improve our lives and the lives of our wives, children and family.

A hush spread over the crowd as each of us raised our hands to take the following pledge:
  • I pledge that from this day forward, I will strive to love my brother as I love myself. From this day forward I will strive to improve myself spiritually, morally, mentally, socially, politically and economically for the benefit of myself, my family and my people.
  • I pledge that I will strive to build business, build houses, build hospitals, build factories and enter into international trade for the good of myself, my family and my people.
  • I pledge that from this day forward I will never raise my hand with a knife or a gun to beat, cut or shoot any member of my family or any human being except in self defense.
  • I pledge from this day forward, I will never abuse my wife by striking her, disrespecting her, for she is the mother of my children and the producer of my future.
  • I pledge that from this day forward, I will never engage in the abuse of children, little boys or little girls, for sexual gratification. But I will let them grow in peace to be strong men and women for the future of our people.
  • I will never again use the "b" word to describe any female, but particularly my own Black sister.
  • I pledge that from this day forward that I will not poison my body with drugs or that which is destructive to my health and my well-being.
  • I pledge from this day forward that I will support Black newspapers, Black radio, Black television. I will support Black artists who clean up their acts and show respect for themselves and respect for their people and respect for the heirs of the human family.
  • I will do all of this, so help me God.
There are two memories that I carry with me from that fall day in Washington DC. First, I remember leaving my wife at the Washington DC hotel where we were staying (the untold story of the Million Man March was the million woman that supported their efforts).

Anyhow, I took the DC metro to the mall ...and it was truly amazing to see dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of brothers all walking in the same direction. The early morning sun did not yet reach above the horizon and a million brothers were of one accord that day. What raw power and promise!

Second, I remember a point during the Million Man March where we were asked to support the event with our dollars.

Thousands of brothers began passing ones, tens and twenties ... folding money ... over our heads from the back of the mall all the way to the front where the money was being collected. No worries about someone pocketing the cash on the way ... just willing hands and willing hearts looking to make a difference on that day. Ujamaa in action.


Villagers, what do you recall about that day sixteen years ago? More importantly, what have you done since that day to live up to the pledges we made at the Million Man March?

14 comments:

THE 78' MS. J said...

I remember watching this on television and wishing that I was there even thought it wasn't for me specifically to see all those beautiful black men in one place, pledging to do better and be better it would have been a powerful moving experience.

JaniceNW said...

Wow. You captured the event so well. You are a part of history in the very best of ways!!

Villager said...

78 - It was a powerful moment, all the more so because of the naysayers who said that it couldn't and wouldn't be done.

Janice - It was a remarkable moment in which the focus was on the MESSAGE and we didn't allow the naysayers to negate our power with their negative focus on the MESSENGER (Farrakhan).

Renee said...

While I am enjoying all the wonderful remembrance what did it result in other than a gathering of men? Seriously black women are still experiencing the highest rate of domestic abuse and it is by their black husbands. I don't mean to ruin everyone's happy memories but in the here and now black men still have a lot to answer for to black women.

Villager said...

Renee - There is never an excuse for a brother to hit a sister. Period. I don't doubt that domestic violence in African American households is a legit issue. I wonder if the amount of such violence has dropped since the MMM took place 13 years ago? Any stats one way or the other?

Mocha Dad said...

Sadly, too many brothers failed to uphold the promises made at the Million Man March. That is the problem with these marches. Everyone is emotionally charged and excited during the event, but there never seems to be much follow-up or action afterwards.

Villager said...

Mocha Dad - You are probably right. Many didn't sustain the enthusiasm or the commitment. However, are their examples that you can think of where the enthusiasm and commitment did continue once the bus got back home from the Million Man March?

clnmike said...

My biggest mistake was not taking a camera when I went. All I have are the memories and a bus ticket saying MMM on it.

In retrospect there are a lot of things that could have been done diffrently in terms of focus. But what people failed to realize is that the purpose of the MMM was to motivate men to be pro active in their community.

Not to tell them how.

Every walk of life was there poor, middle class, upper class, educated, uneducated, conservative liberal, Christian, Muslim, every view and their polar opposite was there. So trying to get all these men to agree on one path to follow would jave been impossible.

Grampy said...

There are good and bad in all. My feeling is we should unite as people of God.We need to forget about the past and join in a union of brother hood.Change the world into a loving place for all.

Los Angelista said...

I absolutely remember how proud and excited I was that the event was even happening. And I remember how the news media tried to downplay how many people were actually in attendance.

Can you imagine how Fox would attack such an event if it was held in the present day and age?

Villager said...

Grampy - I feel ya'! That is indeed the vision for humanity. For now, we have to keep dealing with the way it is (sigh)...

Los Angelista - Yeah, Fox News would go hogwild on a MMM held today. Although, they might also ignore it entirely as they did with the recent Gay Pride march in DC that garnered about the same about of attendance as Beck's 9/12 TeaParty. Anyhow, for now it is nice to just remember the good vibe of the MMM in 1995...

MacDaddy said...

Villager, I'm going to disappoint you and say I argued against the million man march. I said I didn't like the idea of going to the Washington capitol to "atone" for our sin and crimes in the black community. I said, if we need to atone, why not do it here? Why not do it in a big black church or mosque? I said, if we go to Washington, we should be demanding that they increase the minimum wage and declare black communities as segments of the nation that needed a Marshall plan, communities that needed an infusion of funds to clean up blighted areas and get people working again.

People seemed to respect what I said, but I lost the argument that night; and I do believe the march turned out to be a good idea. I know of many brothers who came back and followed through on their commitment to make a difference.

Villager said...

MacDaddy - It is unlikely that you will ever do or say anything that could disappoint me. You bring it strong and you bring it from your heart. I agree that the MMM was a great thing for Black community back in 1995. I wish that we could re-energize our community in 2009 with the same focused direction...

gatemouth said...

I was there and have a picture on my wall in my office. My wife was there also and it was just as moving for her as it was for me.
Those of us who were there have been changed forever and cherish that moment in time as the beginning of our feeling free to hug each other openly. It, in fact, allowed white men to feel free to hug each other. Furthermore, none of us who were there have lost the sense of mission and feel no need to try and justify what it did or did not do. It freed us to be free and I glow inside when I still meet so many brothers who were there!