Twenty years ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to be in Washington, D.C. during the time of the Million Man March. My being in that place at that time was not intentional as it was for a business trip and not for the March. At that time, I thought it was a coincidence but now I believe it was a part of my life’s journey to be there in that moment because it became a validating experience to a future aspect for my life.
In the days immediately following the 1995 Million Man March, on Oct. 21, 1995, I shared my experience and feelings on the computer bulletin board named Prodigy in the Black Experience topic section. Prodigy was a precursor to the Internet and all of the social media platforms we enjoy today. The message subject was “To My Brothers” and the topic was the “Million Man March.” I realize now that the post I wrote on Prodigy was actually my first blog post. Even though that post was limited to only the Prodigy users, I received many positive responses from men who had attended the march telling me how moved they were by my words and their intent to share the message to other men in their communities.
In the time since the first Million Man March, an entire generation of young brothers have reached adulthood and another generation has been born. I want to share again my thoughts and feelings of witnessing one of those incredible moments of the African-American experience.
Here is the original post from 10/21/1995
TO MY BROTHERS OF THE MILLION MAN MARCH
I’m from Houston and due to my work I was in the DC area Oct. 14 -20, 1995. This business trip was planned in January, 1995, long before I knew the date of the Million Man March. So, when I heard about the March and the date, I was ecstatic. I promised my sister and girlfriends that I would give them a first-hand account of the atmosphere in DC. We were mindful that it was your day and did not have a problem with that doctrine. It was time for you to bond and unite…..to open your hearts and really share with one another. We, sisters, have always had each other. Since from the times when the slave masters sold our children, there has been sisterhood. Now, it was time for a rejuvenation of your brotherhood.
I decided to talk to every brother I encountered from the plane ride to the evening before the March. I met my brothers from Boston, San Diego, San Francisco, LA, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Gary, Harlem, Brooklyn, Paris, London, Tennessee, Detroit, Florida, New Orleans, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Seattle. I met you on the plane, on the Metro (subway), in hotel lobbies, restaurants, at the rally, and on the Mall the day before the March. I told you my name and asked yours. I asked you one question, “Why did you come to the March?”
Every one of you opened your hearts to me. Your answer was atonement, unity and brotherhood. You told me it was bigger than the controversy surrounding Minister Farrahkan and other leaders. You told me it was about God, you, and unity. You told me you wanted to make history and show the world the “realness” of the African-American man. You even said to me, “For you my sister. I’m here for you to ask your forgiveness for my treatment of you.” You extended an invitation for my participation in the March and begged me not to feel excluded. I assured you it was okay but declined because I felt it was your day. These were the things I heard from you, my brothers, not the media and I thank God for that experience.
So, I sat on the Mall the day before the March and watched you, eavesdropping on your conversations, chuckling at your excitement and animation………..I felt much joy. There was love, peace, harmony, enthusiasm, understanding, and truth amongst you. You were beautiful, beautiful, my brothers. There were other unknown sisters watching and we joined together in our smiles as we watched. We whispered about your majesty……….how there is no other man on the planet like you. You were a wonderful garden of powerful, warm, brown-hued flowers. We saw you as you saw yourselves – with renewed vision – and we said how we loved you. Sister to Brother. One brother in a group nearby turned and saw us. He rushed over to apologize for an unsavory word spoken. We had not heard it but the brother was concerned about offending us. This is the respect you must nurture always for your sisters, my brothers.
There were perhaps 100,000 of you on the Mall that day. My thoughts compared you to thousands of beautiful lamps………beautiful lamps that had been covered with the dark dust of your experiences with racism in America. But, now, through your communion, you were wiping off that dust from your brother. Each one of you did it for another so that your light grew brighter and brighter. I thought of my brothers still enroute to DC from the four corners of our country. I knew upon their arrival you would wipe away their dust, too. I knew your lights would stun the world on Oct. 16, 1995 and through God’s blessing it did. One million plus lights, united, cannot be ignored.
Thank you, my brothers. Thank you for obeying God’s call. Keep close to your heart that obedience is greater than sacrifice. Keep close to your heart that only God can change the hearts and minds of men and women. Your hearts are free, now. I am proud of you. Remember your pledges, honor your sisters, honor your families, and God will heal our communities.