Reviving the spirit of the Million Man March
By James Clingman, NNPA Columnist
Having seen how Black people are mistreated in country, not only historically but presently, I thought about that gloriously perfect day on which more than 1 million strong Black men stood on Washington’s Mall loving, trusting, and respecting one another. I thought about those I met that day, not having seen them since, and relished the notion of more than 1 million strong, Black men coming to the rescue of our children; I smiled at the thought of us subsequently standing up for Eric Garner and all the others; I beamed at the image of our brothers taking up the mantle of the legacy left us by the likes of Marcus, Malcolm, and Martin. Where are they now, I wondered.
In the nearly 20 years since “The” Million Man March (MMM), we have seen many events that continue to let us know our lives are less valued than the lives of others. We have seen murders, abuse, beat-downs, abandonment, injustice, and intimidation by the authorities and by regular citizens of this country against Black people.
We have been put on notice by the courts and the penal system that we count for nothing more than another occupant for an $80,000 prison cell and $30,000 annual upkeep. We have been given a reality check, and the point has been made, repeatedly and with emphasis, that we do not count. Even when we returned from the MMM, the media said we were only 425,000 strong. Obviously, they were still counting each of us as three-fifths of a man.
The abuse of Black life is not waning. Rather, it is on the rise, from both outsiders and insiders, those who hate us and those among us who are selling us out and acting just plain foolish and trifling. We are being killed and imprisoned at an alarming rate while we stand idly by in our respective cities and do little or nothing to curtail the violence against ourselves and the violence perpetrated against us by this evil corrupt system under which we live. Where are the million strong?
A few years ago, the newest and latest weapon of choice for zealous police officers, which was also a huge money-maker for Rudy Giuliani’s boy, Bernard Kerik, was the infamous 50,000-volt “portable electric chair” known as the Taser. It killed Black folks across the country, but we failed to come out by the millions to protest this cash cow, this so-called less-than-deadly weapon, and now there are actually laws on the books that allow it to be used on 7-year-old children.
Tasers are passé; guns and chokeholds are in vogue. Now, in light of all of the dreadful statistics about Black people, if we ever needed a million strong Black men (and women), we definitely need them now. Where are they?
If you attended the MMM, if you supported the MMM, if you wanted to go but could not, if you participated in some of the post MMM initiatives, if you were too young and could not go because of school, I want you to do something now. You are 20 years older and, I trust, 20 years wiser, 20 years more experienced, 20 years more committed, and tired of the 20-year-old rhetoric about “what we need to do.” Whether you know it, or even believe it, you are part of the group that will take Black people to a higher level of responsibility, respect, and commensurate action vis-à-vis those alarming statistics found in all the reports and most recently in the Urban League’s State of Black America report.
I want you to go www.iamoneofthemillion.com and add your name to the list if you are conscious and committed. Let’s begin the process of recapturing the strength and resolve of 1 million Black men who were so intimidating that the federal government virtually shut down the day we came to town. This time, however, I want us to demonstrate that same strength by turning it into real power. How? Sign up, and then follow through on the simple but vital criteria for membership in this growing and august body of Black people.
Please recommit, not only to the spirit of what we did in D.C. 20 years ago, but also to the charge given us that day: to leave that place and do something to help our people. We must reconnect, stay connected, and aggregate our resources in support of one another. We must share information, work cooperatively, take control of our destiny, stand against unrighteousness, and not only say “enough is enough,” but do the work that will give substance and real meaning to our words. Where are the one million strong? Where are you?