Million Man March

Delta Winds cover 1997Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College


Million Man March

Otha Farley

As I watched the sea of black men gathered in the nation's capitol hug each other, shake hands, give hi-five signs, and display emotional behavior rarely exhibited by African-American males, I experienced an overwhelming sense of pride and joy for my black brothers and for my race.

When these thousands of black men made the decision to stand up and be counted, they did so for reasons as different as the cities from which they came. However, when the men were asked the inevitable question, "Why did you come here today ?" the reason given by the majority of them was "to ask for forgiveness, to seek atonement, and to make it known to white America and the nation that we are sick and tired of the status quo, and we will no longer stand idly by and accept the denigrated image of the black man."

Although most African-Americans blame themselves for the inability to change their situation and view their position as a result of the system, this multitude of black men made a collective demand for change. They served notice that no longer will African-Americans, particularly African-American males, view themselves as a powerless people, but as a force to be reckoned with. The image of unmotivated, irresponsible, politically apathetic people is no longer acceptable to these sons of slaves, who are, more accurately, sons of builders of this nation.

The agenda of the Million Man March was a collective agenda for change. A major part of this agenda included the goal of accepting a collective responsibility for the women and children of the African-American race. The planned strategy for attaining this goal was to adopt the more than 25,000 black children awaiting adoption in the United States. In addition, the members identified the need for African-American males to be financially responsible for their children and to immediately stop the degradation and the demoralization of black women by black men.

Second, the goal of effective political participation was addressed. The planned strategy included registering to vote and utilizing that vote to place in key positions elected officials who supported the African-American agenda. Additionally, African-American men were required to join and actively participate in churches and organizations that are supporters of civil rights.

Third, the goal of renewing themselves morally and spiritually was addressed. The responsibility of realizing this goal was placed with the African-American churches, regardless of denomination. Preachers and teachers of God should be committed to serving the people.

Finally, and perhaps most important, was the goal of attaining economic clout. Planned strategies for the realization of this goal included the development and support of black-owned businesses.

The march was labeled by the mainstream media and white America as an opportunity for an oppressed group to bash racism and separatism. Black America viewed the march as a successful wake-up call for both black and white America. And as the African-American male is being defamed on a continuous basis, the need for a Million Man March on Washington was clearly evident and long overdue.