(FinalCall.com) – October 16 marks the 14th anniversary of the historic Million Man March. When reflecting on the day that many called “a glimpse of heaven,” there are several things people must remember when dealing with the Million Man March, its historical importance, and its long-lasting legacy.
Black men from all across the United States paid their own way, many of them taking off of work on a Monday, in order to participate in a day of unity and solidarity held together by the principles of Atonement, Reconciliation and Responsibility as enumerated by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. Additionally, the Million Man March was conceived, organized, funded and executed solely by the Black community and Black organizations.
Even though Washington, D.C., shut down, and the President of the U.S. who at that time was Bill Clinton, left town, Black men from around the country gathered on that day, and the program went on without a hitch. It was a peaceful day with the successful arrival and departure of the marchers and despite the presence of Washington, D.C. police, there were no incidents requiring their intervention.
Many of the local organizing committees in many cities–large and small–worked very hard leading up to the march holding organizing meetings, participating in the Men-Only meetings held by Minister Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam in Houston, Boston, New York and other locations. Even after the march, many local organizing committees continued to meet, establishing programmatic thrusts. Local organizing committees were very instrumental in the Million Family March in 2000, as well as the Millions More Movement which was held in 2005. Many of them are still very active in their respective cities.
Emerging from the narrative of the march were countless stories of Black men who returned to their cities, inspired and emboldened with their spirits renewed. Many went back and became active in their churches, mosques or temples. There were men who reunited with their fathers, brothers reunited with each other, friends met up who had not seen each other in years. After the Million Man March, Black men took responsibility for their families. Still others became more active in their fraternal organizations and joined with like-minded Black men in an effort to pool their resources leading to the formation of many new organizations and business enterprises. Some made movies and wrote books in an effort to preserve the history of the Million Man March and to record their participation in it.
The Million Man March was the only march to post an independent financial auditor’s report online allowing everyone who contributed financially (and even those who didn’t) to see what came in, what was spent, and how it was spent.
As with all things, there were challenges. Some complained about the follow-up and still others sought to find fault with the convener of the March. As others attempted to put their spin on the Million Man March, they deviously tried to separate the beautiful message of that day from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, the one through whom the message of Atonement came.
When the polling data was released showing that some 85 percent of those who attended the Million Man March were Christians, forces began to go to work to ensure that no march at the call of a Muslim would take place again that Christians would respond to. Some attempted to malign Minister Farrakhan, speaking evil of him publicly in hopes of discouraging people from listening to the words of wisdom coming from his mouth, and preventing them from following his guidance.
In 2009, the United States of America is led by a Black President–who attended the Million Man March. He has inherited a nation in trouble. Military conflicts are raging in many parts of the earth. Over the previous eight years of the Bush administration, America has experienced the loss of friendship of many foreign allies and they are trying to rebuild those relationships. America’s economy is in terrible shape with a huge public debate taking place regarding health care reform, while expensive foreign wars continue to place her deeper and deeper in debt. The doors of many of America’s factories are closing. The time is now to pool our resources, as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad has always instructed, and do something for ourselves.
So as we look back, remembering fondly that special day 14 years ago, let us bear in mind that work is still needed. Young Black men are dying in the streets at the hands of their own young Black brothers who are experiencing the same problems. Their actions are a cry for help. They lack jobs. They lack mentors. They don’t see a way out of the desperate and hopeless circumstances in which they find themselves. However, no matter how hopeless things appear, and no matter how terrible our youth act, they are not beyond redemption.
As we take responsibility to rebuild our communities, remembering the pledge that we gave as the world watched on that beautiful day, October 16, 1995, let us heed the Divine Guidance of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan while we still have the chance.
The Million Man March Pledge
(Text of the pledge that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan led over two million Black men in taking at the historic Million Man March in Washington, D.C. on October 16, 1995.)
I PLEDGE that from this day forward I will strive to love my brother as I love myself. I, from this day forward, 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 businesses, 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. For 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 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 I will support Black newspapers, Black radio, Black television. I will support Black artists who clean up their acts to show respect for themselves and respect for their people and respect for the ears of the human family.
I will do all of this so help me God.