Twenty years ago I was four years old. I couldn't do much for myself except maybe string a few words together or stuff my face with food that was put in front of me. But little did I know on October 16, 1995 an enormous movement was taking place in the nation's capitol and it was called the Million Man March. I was too young to remember it then, but it would shape a big part of the present-day civil rights movement.
This weekend I took it upon myself to make sure that I was a part of history this time around. I made the trip to DC with a couple friends to take in the sights and sounds and be among others who in many ways are craving something in terms of inner peace and understanding. The 20th anniversary marked a large return to the site where the original march was first held. The slogan of "Justice or Else" was the rallying cry for the day. Tens of thousands, or maybe more, showed up to come together. I didn't know exactly why I was there, but I knew I did not want to miss something that could change my life. A series of speakers graced the Capitol building steps and one by one expressed why we needed to come together. In simple terms people of color have been forgotten about. We've been abused in many ways and not appreciated in others. We no longer have to take this. We demand justice and equality OR ELSE. The 'or else' part can be anything. It means economic boycott and continued calls to action. It means movement on a local level to disrupt. It means whatever it takes.
Overall the weekend made me feel proud to be a young black man. I have never before been surrounded by so many other young black men and people of color in my life. There were no fights, no incidents. We all were there for a purpose. But one day is not enough. It's the start of a wake up call. We all need to have the million man march in our hearts on a daily basis in many ways. Each day I know that I need to realize that I did not get here solely on my own, but there were people before me who sacrificed so that I could live in some type of peace.
One thing that struck me from the weekend was in reading more on Louis Farrakhan. He is a controversial man, very much like a man I work with Rev. Al Sharpton. In the past he has said things against homosexuals and women. And I strongly believe in calling for justice, you cannot stand for one group and not the other. You have to stand for everyone. So I struggled with picking through what Farrakhan said and his positions on issues that he's been wrong on in the past. But I also acknowledge his honesty on things like the death of Malcolm X and growing ideals. I believe he is progressing into 2015 with his beliefs, but I also understand no one is perfect. We all have our faults. We need to come together more so we can talk and understand each other better.
When I walked away from the March I felt assured that I was there for a reason. I felt comfortable knowing change is coming. It is slow and steady, but it already has begun. The society we live in continues to change around us and we all have to be willing to adapt. This weekend I found out more about myself. I learned to be open my mind. Twenty years later I learned what standing together can really look like.
lives by one word: achievement. in anything and everything, achieve.