Experiencing the Million Man March

PYO intern Yusuf Shah. (Staff photo by Carlton Koonce)

Twenty years ago Oct, 16, 1995, found millions of men driving, flying and riding buses to Washington, D.C., for the Million Man March.

The event had a major impact on the lives of people who went and wanted to see change in the way government is run and injustices on the generation during that time.

Fast forward 20 years later and the newest Million Man March held the same motives it did decades ago when it motivated millions to go to Washington.

Minister Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, was the keynote speaker for both marches. He called for tens of thousands of strong people wanting to make a change in how blacks, Latinos, Native- Americans and poor citizens are treated in the United States to attend.

My family and I met more people who were going to the march. It felt like a great event that everyone wanted to be a part of. We met at a local grocery store to wait for the buses, which arrived late. We were supposed to leave around 12:30 a.m. but since two buses were having problems, we didn’t leave until an hour later.

After the buses arrived, we all boarded according to the color of the wristbands we wore. I got to ride with my family who sat a couple of seats behind and in front of me. Both buses were full with people in every seat. Once everyone was seated and gave their information to the man that was in charge of the bus and our group we were on our way to Washington.

We made only one stop to fill up with gas. The ride made me feel welcomed with bag lunches being provided for the road trip.

After the five-plus-hour trip up the interstate, we arrived in D.C. Everyone had the option of taking the metro train or walking to the Capitol Building near where the march would be held. My family and I were prepared and carried chairs so that we would have a place to once we made it to the National Mall.

At the march there were many different speakers who came before Minister Louis Farrakhan spoke. One group in particular was the Native-American leaders and members of different tribes. One speaker has a Native-American radio station and is very widely known in his tribe. His name is Jay Winter Nightwolf, and he talked about how Native-Americans were the original people of the western hemisphere and that they were first met by black Africans way before Christopher Columbus came. Also he reminded the audience that Hispanics are just Spanish speaking Native-Americans.

Nightwolf also said American immigration policy, as well as restrictive laws, have caused much pain and suffering among the Hispanic community in the U.S.

The overall message was of justice, for all people including blacks, Native-Americans, Hispanics and the poor.

I had a feeling of appreciation and grace while I was there because of the amount of people that had shown up. There was also millions more watching on the Internet. This made the cause worthwhile and made me think that people should unite for a common cause since so many of us are all fighting the same battle.

As a young Nation of Islam member, I have been told about the significance of the Million Man March and the impact that it had on the different communities that needed help. This past October 16 marked the official 20th anniversary of the March. The power that these events hold is special and worth witnessing.

With every journey there is a voyager who goes along with it.

For me it started with getting on the bus late at night here in Durham to head to Washington, D.C.