WHY I SUPPORT THE MILLION MAN MARCH
By Uriah J. Fields, M.Div., Ph.D.
Foreword: In Advance of the Million Man March
On September 21, 1995, nearly a month before the October 16, 1995 Million Man March on the Mall in Washington D.C., I wrote the article, cited below, that was published in the Los Angeles "Herald Dispatch" newspaper.
Before presenting this article I want to acknowledge that I have not agreed with every statement Minister Louis Farrakhan, chief organizer of the March, however, I do agree with most of the things he has articulated and feel that he is providing significant leadership for African Americans, particularly in raising their consciousness and inspiring, as well as challenging them, to take responsibility for their condition and to do what is necessary to change it.
I recall that in February of 1990, Farrakhan spoke at the Los Angeles Lakers Forum. Some 17,000 people attended the event.There were many people who was opposed to his appearance, including the Mayor of Los Angeles Tom Bradley and nearly all Jews in Los Angeles. But there were many more people, nearly all black people, who were in favor of him speaking at the the Lakers Forum, including this writer.
On the day Farrakhan appeared at the Forum he was picketed by members of the Jewish Defense League. I also picketed the event for about three hours before the event. My picket sign read: "Farrakhan We Support You" and "Welcome to Los Angeles, We Love You."
Almost a year before the Million Man March Farrakhan, chief organizer of the March, met with ministers in Los Angeles on several occasions seeking their support. Among the ministers in Los Angeles who endorsed his idea and pledged their support of the Million Man March were: Rev. Cecil L."Chip" Murray, pastor of the First African Episcopal Methodist Church, Rev.Thomas Kilgore, pastor emeritus of fhe Second Baptist Church, Bishop Ralph H. Houston, a pastor and President of the Los Angeles Interdenominational Alliance and this writer, Uriah J. Fields, president of the American Christian Freedom Society and secretary of the Los Angeles Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA composed mostly of African American ministers).
To repeat, on Monday, October 16, 1995, hundreds of thousands, and by some people estimate that nearly a million African Americans gathered at the Mall in Washington D.C., for the Million Man March, a daylong rally promoting personal responsibility and racial solidarity. It was Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam who organized the March and, in my opinion, did what no other African American could have done at the time.
Now, I will present my article just as it was when published in the Los Angeles "Herald Dispatch" newspaper on September 21, 1995, nearly a month before the Million Man March on the Mall in Washington D.C.
Why I Support the Million Man March
"How can you support the Million Man March, led by Minister Louis Farrakhan?" I was asked in, not so much as a question as a declaratory reprimand, by a black man who endeavored to convince me that I should withdraw my support of the March. He added, "Farrakhan is a Muslim and you are a Christian."
First, I want to acknowledge that both Farrakhan and I are black. It is true, that he is a Muslim and I am a Christian. I have no desire to convert him to Christianity and, as far as I am able to determine, he has no desire to convert me to Islam. We respect each other for being who we are individually and uniquely.
Second, the present condition of black people in America is characterized by destructiveness and victimization. Black reality - blacks consists of the highest unemployment of any ethnic group in America, miseducation (actually "missed education"), imprisonment of black men to the tune of 47 percent of all prisoners - on a scale unparalleled in history except during war when soldiers imprison their capture enemies, an appalling teenage pregnancy proliferation that accounts for nearly one-half of black births, the vanishing black family, with most black families being headed by women with no husbands and consisting of children with absent fathers, many of whom have never seen or do not know their fathers, and a growing underclass. To these things, there is a dearth of black leadership, apparent powerlessness and hopelessness.
It is in light of the aforementioned - my inescapable connection with blackness and the plight of black people - that I state forthrightly and unequivocably "Why I support the Million Man March." There are three major reasons why I enthusiastically support this march:
1. The Million Man March will demonstrate to black people, black men in particularly, that they are alive. In the midst of the rhetoric and images portrayed in the media that emphasize black males as an "endangered species," and black males' fall beneath black females in every significant category of productivity, a million black men purposefully gathered in the Nation's Capitol, armed with a "mandate for change" in their own behavior and in the behavior of white Americans toward black people, will do more than anything else, at this particular time, to enable the black man to know that he is alive. Aliveness denotes survival and perpetuity.
Memory of the Million Man March - a sea of black maleness - will be a place in consciousness where black men can return for strength of character and courage to challenge their oppressors.
2. The Million Man March says that black people must and can save themselves. I envision this march to be not a begging-the-white-man expedition, but a manifested "declaration of black self-determination" - a demand for equality, justice and love, essentials for creating community.
The Million Man March will do much to reveal black potential and its sufficiency unto itself. Indeed, it is a wake-up call for black folks. Once black folks are conscious of themselves, essentially and potentially, they will be their authentic selves and do the right thing. Other things, of significance, will follow naturally.
3. The Million Man March sends a clarion message to non-blacks in America informing them that black people are not going to settle any longer for a victimization role in America - be white folks' scape goats, sacrificial lamb and whipping boy. But to the contrary, indignant black people have ceased being merely aggrieved but will henceforth express their indignation with a million black men demonstrating today, ten million black men confronting tomorrow, and thirty million black people actuating the American Dream soon.
Yes, I am under no illusion that the Million Man March is a panacea for black people and their problems, but it is a solid, eventful demonstration of an advent that will mark the beginning of the new black wave that black folks will ride into the twenty-first century.
I call upon black people, including my inquirer who asked me, "How can you support the Million Man March" to support the Million Man March. Finally, I am convinced that Farrakhan, because of his gifts and commitment to improving the quality of black life in America, is the right person to lead this Million Man March.
Uriah J. Fields is president of the American Christian Freedom Society and Encouager-in-Chief of the Mutuality Warrior Corps. He was a founder and the original secretary of the Montgomery Improvement Association that provided leadership for the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Copyright 1995 and 2013 by Uriah J. Fields