A different year, same concept, same issues, and somewhat different situations. This past weekend I got to attend the Justice or Else March which was called by Minister Louis Farrakhan. Twenty years ago many activists, black men, and people of the Nation of Islam gathered on Washington, D.C.‘s National Mall for the Million Man March. As the 20th anniversary approaches this week, this past weekend let us know there’still a lot of work to do. Although today’s current issues added a bit more content to Farrakhan‘s speech which appeared to be contradicting to some, even me at some points, it still contained substance and relevance.
The purpose of the Million Man March , which was originally organized by Minister Louis Farrakhan and Dr. Benjamin Chavis Jr., was to paint a different picture of the black male and to unite against the economic and social issues that plagued the black community.
I, Taylor Walker (Doc’s Castle Media) and Cortez Elliott organized a bus trip to get people to D.C. because this is something we believe no one should have missed. Whether you were black, white, green, or purple you should have been there. I believe what made people not want to show up was gullibility. We all know how Louis Farrakhan is portrayed by the media and judged by some of the words that came out of his mouth previously, people assumed that it would get violent. People also felt that standing in a massive crowd wouldn’t solve a thing. Whatever your prerogative was is on you.
I will be the first to say that from when we arrived in D.C.until we left, I felt like I was at a family reunion.
I saw a lot of familiar faces and unfamiliar. We all came to either learn or inform.
My colleagues and I made sure that we got a spot closer to the speakers, but did not expect to be standing in the same space for a few hours. The speakers began their remarks and everyone looked so eager.
What I admired is that even though Minister Farrakhan is of the Nation Of Islam he paid respect followers of other religions that were in attendance as well. Hearing from different representatives for ethnic groups who are oppressed, Native Americans included, by systematic torture made me open up my eyes and ears a little more than usual. Along with that we were reminded of the police brutality that has heightened in the past few years and has been on the radar this year since Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland and countless others who were victims. The families of Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin and Sandra Bland all spoke on behalf of their fallen family members.
Once everyone spoke it was about time for Minister Farrakhan to speak. I grew excited from the crowd’s reaction to his arrival. I was also nervous because he was speaking behind a glass when we all had to go through metal detectors to gain closer access. Nonetheless he began to speak, I stood around a few Muslim men who were confused during specific parts of the speech. Especially when Farrakhan embraced the LGBT community.
Listening to Farrakhan‘s speech reminded me of listening to someone’s grandfather who knew the ropes, but added his extra commentary to make things more fresh and exciting. He left no room for sugar as his speech was served up like three straight shots of vodka. He did not only address the forces that are against the black community, but addressed the internal opposing forces as well. Drifting off at times brought a comedic feel through the audience, yet Farrakhan reminded us that nothing is funny about what’s going on in our country and what’s been going on for many years.
Attempting to conclude his speech was hard after a little more than two hours as some of the crowd yelled for more and some not so much. What I respected about Justice or Else is that even though there were celebrity figures amongst us, they didn’t speak and the event was not centered around them. With minimum media coverage from mainstream everyone still showed up triple of what some expected. This showed that people were dedicated and willing to listen. You know what they say though, Success isn’t measured by numbers. Although Minister Farrakhan‘s name is dragged by many, it was time that we heard what he had to say. From his impromptu sidebar about how woman should be treated to his public address of the accusations of his dealings with the death of Malcolm X, we were all ears.
There were some people who inquired what “Or Else” meant and assumed it to possess a definition that dealt with violence. Minister Farrakhan left that or else on each individual who attended. He did not promote violence, but promoted self knowledge. He instilled in us that before we work on the the outer conflict we have to rid ourselves of the internal conflicts.