During the first million-man march I was only a child, but I grew up hearing about the historic event. I promised myself that I would attend the march if I ever had the chance. Well on October 10th of this year, I got that chance! It was a blessing to be raised in a community of strong men. My father, uncles, and grandfather all provided me with positive role models. As the day grew closer my excitement grew about the potential of having a million men with similar feelings of community responsibility.
This memorable day began rather hectic. Per usual, I was late even when I attempted to be early. I sped the entire way to the bus station blasting gospel songs hoping to flood the atmosphere with Jesus vibes to ward off potential tickets. I arrived just as the bus driver was preparing to close his door. I remember sweating from all the excitement as I sat in my seat. Once I sat down, gathered myself and looked around, a calm came over me that lasted the entire day. As I rushed off the bus and attempted to navigate the DC subway system, I was at a stand still with which way to go next. I looked up for help and my eyes were met by another man who shared the same gaze of confusion. A young man who favored this gentleman’s looks stood behind him consumed by his cell phone. These two men joined me on this journey even though we did not share our names with one another. We greeted each other as brothers and began to navigate the subway.
The elderly man spoke of how he attended the first march 20 years ago and how excited he was to experience this nostalgia again with his son. I saw the pride in his eyes as he mentioned the first march he attended, telling his son how amazing the atmosphere was back then. He went on to say how monumental today would be and the enormous amount of men who will be in attendance today in Washington DC. We arrived to the march within moments of the keynote speaker taking the podium. Did I want to hear this speech? Absolutely, but I really wanted to see the beautiful faces of those who supported the cause.
As I walked around I was greeted in peace and love, called King and Brother by strangers. I saw my people in every shade and age ranging from the elderly being escorted through the crowd to babies on their mother’s hip. I saw white people with their children, Native Americans in their traditional clothing, same sex couples holding hands, and interracial couples embracing each other all the while listening to the keynote speaker. What I saw and felt on this day was love. I have never felt that much love from strangers. It was so overwhelming; I had to have a seat to reflect on what I was experiencing. This was about the right for every American to pursue happiness!
I sat there overlooking the masses of people thinking about the past, present and future. I thought about the beauty of this moment. I envisioned what it would be like to share this moment with my future wife and children and suddenly tears began to rapidly fall from my eyes. I couldn’t control these feelings and I didn’t want to. I began this day intending to fully embrace the moment and every emotion that came with it. An older man sat down beside me and put his arm over my shoulder. We did not speak to each other, just sat in silence embracing this powerful moment. Thoughts were flooding my mind, why couldn't it always be this way? Why cant people of all colors come together in peace and love outside of an organized event? Why couldn't this love be felt every day all over the world? I thought about the dreams the enslaved had for their children of freedom and the many marches and protests their children endured for us to have equal rights.
I thought about the present, about my life as a black man. My future and if my children will still need to march for equality regardless of ethnicity, gender and who they love. While the elderly man stood up, hugged me and continued on his journey, I wondered if we shared the same images in our minds as we looked around the crowd. I wondered if he felt hope seeing how far we’ve come but still felt sorrow of where we need to go.
October 10th was my call to action. I will love more, forgive more, understand more and feel more. My purpose is to ensure we don’t need another march in 20 years. My duty is to help in any way possible to ensure every person has the same opportunities as the next regardless of what they look like and where they are from. Happiness and love is the ultimate goal here. The love felt on 10.10.15 should be felt every day. I’ve accepted my call to do my part, and will make that goal a reality.
Please see the 1568 visuals from Million Man March
20th Anniversary of the Million Man March
20th Anniversary of the Million Man March