We arrived at 1:00 am on Monday morning, rested for 2 hours and then began one of the most exciting days of our lives to this point. Two students, Donovan Smith and Marc Callender, Todd Martin of Martin Media Productions and myself set-out to document an event that we could not imagine. At 5:00 am in the darkness we stood in lines to get press credentials for the event and by 5:30 am we were worming our way through the crowd to get the best vantage shot that would allow us to cover this event. We finally set-up on the mall area by a large projection screen and sent a second crew out to cover various aspects of the event. We wanted to get interviews with people that came to the event, to get their thoughts about what was happening.
Donovan and Marc summed up the event by stating:
State University at Albany
The Million Man March was an event that shock "White America", and I witness it on October 16, 1995. The "White media " tried to portray this event in a negative way. I Donovan Smith and Martin Media Communications went down to " Chocolate City", Washington D. C. and was welcome by the spirits of this event. At 4 am, I witnessed over one million Black Men. Washington D. C. became the silhouette of the African Men Diaspora. I am convinced that the "White Media" can't count above 400,000. The message that I received and brought back home, was that it is time for the Black Man to take a stand, unite and clean shop. I was honored to be an integral part of this historical event. Long live the spirit of the Million Man March...
"The Million Man March", the name alone brings a whirlwind of feelings, and thoughts of positively about by people... specifically the BLACK MAN. In a time when so many negative images and words bombard the American society and the world as a whole, I bear witnessed to what can only be called "Beautiful". I traveled to Washington D. C. to report as part Martin Media Communications and to be a part of this historic event, the Million Man March.
The fact that I went down to Washington D. C. as part of the Media was especially important. Our production team consisting of all educated Black men, went down not only to chronicle the events for ourselves but for the world. There would be no misinterpretation of the events by the white media, for if there was, we as part of the black media would have the evidence to dispute their "facts".
We were not alone, there were hundreds of other black media representatives that were present on that day to chronicle the march. There was no disputing what we witnessed on that day, October 16th. A Million Black Men getting together with no incidence of violence, or verbal altercations. A Brother from Detroit greeting a Brother from New York in embrace with respect and positivity. Four Brothers from Harlem greeting me, a Brooklynite with love. Black men exchanging business cards and networking with other brothers in hopes of economic advancement. Black men bringing their young black male children to witness the historic event as a learning experience. A representative from the Nation of Islam asking for money for an economic fund and thousands of hands waving money in support.
A Million Black Men covering every economic and social background congregating to promote change in their lives and in their community. This Million Man March transcended Minister Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, and numerous other speakers that talked on this day. This March was about the Millions of Black men in the world and the many difficulties that they face every day of their lives. These problems were not only talked about but solutions were put forth to remedy them.
Finally I would like to say that being a part of an all black production team (Professor Bowman, Todd Martin, Donovan Smith), gave me a sense of pride. We went down to Washington D. C. as black men to report on an event organized by black men. There would be no lies told by the (white media) for we were there as part of the media to chronicle probably the greatest event of my generation. Yes, we have the evidence for all those wanting to see progress, and positivity! Let them say there were only 400,000 people, we know that there were a Million. No... over a Million strong on that October 16th in Washington D. C. We have the tape to prove it and I have my feelings that will never die to prove it. "Long live the Million Man March!"
October 16,1995, it was a day that I had waited for all my life. Black men from all walks of life, representing every religious, economic, political, organizational and ideological persuasion coming together in the greatest display of Black solidarity the world has ever seen. It was a political and social statement, but more importantly it was a spiritual pilgrimage. The English language does not contain words beautiful enough to describe the Million Man March.
We traveled to D.C by car Sunday night, for the entire trip we talked non-stop with great excitement and anticipation about the march. Will it be a success? Will there be a Million Brothers?, Who will be the speakers?, What will be the impact of this day on the Black community? How will White America respond? It surpassed our greastest expections. As we stopped at a rest stop to get gas and something to eat, we noticed car load after car load of brothers, with license plates from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and even Maine, traveling south on I-95.
We arrived in Maryland about 1 am for a brief sleep. We rose at 4:30, I immediately turned on the News. Reporters commented that the traffic was not congested as had been anticipated, and this probably meant that one Million men would not participate. My heart dropped with disappointment for a moment. I flicked to another station, and they reported similar results, I flicked to another station, the same thing. I then turned off the TV. And turned on the radio to a Black station, Not surprisingly , they reported a different perspective. Already thousands had gathered and more were coming. This was just another attempt by mainstream media to discourage brothers from traveling. It was to late.
We rode the Metro to the mall, every stop, more and more brothers bordered, soon the entire train was filled with brothers. We exited the train and walked through the station, Black woman greeted us "Allright Blackman!" they voiced with bright smiles, as they distributed maps, plastic bags and information flyers. As we walked down the street, approaching the mall, we .saw more sisters, clapping, as we past them "Go ahead, Blackman!". they shouted. We crossed, the street and started to make our way to the mall, members of the F.O.I, greeted us warmly, "As Salaam Alikum, Brothers!", Welcome, Black man!, "It's good to see you brother!"
We finally arrived at the mall about 7:45 am, by then, hundreds of thousands of Black men were present. The air was clear, and thick, filled with excitement and electric energy. The vibe was so strong. My eyes got watery. It was a vibration of love. The ancestors were there, the Spirit was present and the moment was peace. As I looked around the colors came alive, you could hear the beat of African drums calling us home. As we made our way through the crowd we heard Rev. Chavis comment, "Hug the brother next to you, and tell him, where you're from!" I must have hugged a hundred brothers, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, Virginia, New Orleans, Dallas, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Denver...everywhere. We were there to share, to bond, to reconnect, to restore our image and to nourish our souls. When we got to the front ,we looked back on the crowd with amazement and saw a swelling sea of Blackness . The announcer came on and said "We have reach our goal, there are now "One Million Black men here!" The crowd erupted in a rhythmic chant, to let the world known ......" We... Are ...Here! We... Are... Here! We... Are... Here.! ...... And we stood there shoulder to shoulder for 14 hours, listening, chanting, praying, embracing, and pledging . There were many memorable moments. But, when we held up dollar bills to pledge our commitment toward our own economic development, probably stands out as one of the most powerful. The Million Man March was the most spiritually moving experience that I have ever had. We left the mall that day with a new sense of purpose, and marching orders to rebuilded our community. If I live forever I will never forget that I was One in a Million. God Bless, Minister Farakhan for his vision and courage to call this march. Long Live the Spirit of the Million Man March! The Blackman is Back! .......Hotep!