Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.
– Kofi Annan, former Secretary General, United Nations
from Tel Aviv Israel, Ofir J Rock with Desert Dance
“What’s the next move ? Since then a new generation has grown up,they need directions. Where have all the men gone?” – Question posted by a Facebook reader under a post via The Grio with the above photo captioned On this Day in History
IN REVERSE: Two Decades After The Million Man March
written & edited by Kendall F. Person
I boarded the flight in Kingston, Jamaica and six hours later touched down in my nation’s capitol, Washington D.C. Once into the fairways, the noticeable difference was instant, and if a person did not know, they would have been inclined to ask if something was going on. It was not just the overwhelming presence of African American men, nor was it simply the feeling that I was about to be a part of history, that drew me in, but rather the awareness of being inside a revolutionary change. But the United States is the 4th largest nation by area and 3rd most populated country on earth, so change to me, growing up on the west coast, far removed from any Mason-Dixon line, born after the Civil Rights Era, learning of Jim Crow through family stories and history books, and never embracing the thought, that I was limited as to what I could achieve, and raised under the parental guidance of education or bust, change to me may be very different than change to another African American man, and the idea that we all think or react alike,or are in need of the same things, is a premise that should have long since been put to rest But for some reason, that eludes many to this day, when the Nation of Islam’s Minister Louis Farrakhan called, more than a million of us came.
A new generation has emerged and the staggering advancements in technology has them entering a brand new world. In theory, and I would like to think in practice as well, young men born in or becoming citizens of the United States of America would stand on equal platforms if stripped of their personal identities, leaving only the color of their skin. But then the Birther show reemerges, reminding us that the old guard, in some places, still stands, and then a chain of violence erupts in Chicago thrusting us back to the late-1980’s when violence in Black neighborhoods, nearly ripped the fabric of family and community from beneath us, and then another shooting of unarmed Black man, this time the video is clear, he was shot with his hands up in the air. Then with each peril, the cultivators of lies get top billing, giving the world a view that America is still a racist cesspool, which is simply not true, and giving people like Carole Spicer-Groomes of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania reason to riddle this question, “What’s the next move ? Since then a new generation has grown up,they need directions. Where have all the men gone?”
Immediately following The Million Man March, controversy regarding attendance blasted off, overshadowing all else, specifically, the need to comprehend, to recap, to ponder the reasons why we were there. Without question, the event was an unparalleled success. Well over a million Black men stood for eleven hours together, under the mild autumn sun, collectively awaiting an answer, but one would never come. Not that the multitude of speakers and entertainers did not deliver and excite. And there may have been some disappointment in Mr. Farrakhan’s decision to cover a magnitude of issues in a speech that was much too long, but because unlike the Civil Rights March led by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963, there was no national unifying monster, like the right to vote, to pursue and obtain an equal education or even the right to sit at the front of a bus.
I am Black and I am an American, proud in equal parts of both. But being measured by either, in a techno-savvy age, when the whole wide world is within reach, is confining, limiting, and rather we know it, believe it or accept, it can also be suffocating. October 16, 1995, was important individually as to why we went, and trying to give it a group demographic perspective, two decades later, is not only unfair to the March itself, but does little to solve the issues in our own families, neighborhoods, schools and communities, that our happening now. The United States is a multi-racial society. We maintain a global leadership role, we operate some of the most respected institutions of higher learning, and we landed on the moon decades ago, yet we still struggle with the issue as to why we allow and place so much emphasis on color; and we still are challenged by the notion, that each man is responsible for himself, and that each family must produce role models within their clans, and that each community is better when working together in supporting our children: to unlock the power of, then unleash their potential, and that each state serves as a resource for growth, and that this one nation, under God, indivisible stands tall for liberty and justice for all.
Ms. Spicer-Groomes, I applaud you for your nerve and willingness to ask such a tough question in a public forum like Facebook, and you certainly deserve an answer: The men have not gone anywhere. They are in Philadelphia working hard, raising families, building businesses and trying to make a difference. They are in Sacramento developing programs, building futures. They are in Detroit and Atlanta and Providence and Denver and in Washington D.C., but all do not commandeer the microphone or a guest spot on t.v. They are white and black and latino and asian and arab and Christian and Muslim and young and old, but the voices of reason are often out shined by the violence and indecision, that sometimes we prefer to see. And maybe if we believe that nothing has changed, we are not forced to look internally, questioning ourselves, “Am I doing my part?” The Neighborhood is a loved and respected source, and even though our numbers are noticeably growing, we are still a small voice. But we throw a Hail Mary anyway, for it matters not the size of our contribution, only that one is made. And one day, who knows, our small, peaceful voices united together, may lead to wider discussions and solutions not based on race.
– an editorial from thepublicblogger
cover photo million man march courtesy of steadystevie_wssu