10.16.2008

My Million Man March Experience: 13 years ago on this day


Written by Jesse Muhammad

The day was October 15, 1995. I was a junior at Forest Brook Senior High School. My mother and I was taking my older brother Deric Muhammad to Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston to depart for Washington, D.C. Back then, as you may remember, people were allowed all the way to the gates to see their loved ones off so I was lucky enough to see something that I had never seen before in my life at that point.

The airport had been taken over by Black men.

It wasn't a stick up or a robbery.

But these men had a focused look in their eyes and all of them had the same destination on their ticket stub with one aim in mind: The Million Man March. On top of that they were paying their own way!? Now seeing these hundreds of Black men made me even more sad that I could not go. But my mother could not afford to send me so my big brother said to me "Next time little brother". My 79-year-old grandmother had marched with Dr. King in the March on Washington and I remember her telling my brother "Now, it's your turn."

I really wanted to go and my eyes had gotten watery at that point. But we waved my brother goodbye and my mother let me sit for a few minutes and watch all of those men and their sons line up and load plane after plane after plane. That image stuck with me.

I had already determined that I was going to be off from school the next day because a man that I was just being introduced to through videos and audio tapes called for a Holy Day of Atonement. A Day of Absence. No School. No Work. No Play.

That man was/is the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.



I wanted all male teachers and students at my school to join with me but the school would not excuse us but I took the day off anyway. So, on October 16, 1995, I was the only male that I know of on the campus of Forest Brook Senior High School that stayed at home to observe the Holy Day of Atonement.

I put my VCR on record for the local station that was covering the march from start to finish. My mother and I then went over to the SHAPE Community Center to watch it on big screen as well as enjoy the local pre-program. As I watched those nearly two million men on television, boy I was excited and motivated.



Why? I have never had a biological father in my life and by that point Minister Farrakhan had become my source of inspiration and still is as I write this blog. He is my father hands down.

Also I couldn't grasp back then why so many people were opposing the March and the Minister, when I saw it as something that was greatly needed. The prior year in 1994 in Houston, I witnessed from the59 North freeway over 35,000 men packing a church in Fifth Ward for a Men's Only Meeting to hear what Minister Farrakhan had to say. When I saw men sitting on the side of the freeway just to hear through an outside sound system I asked myself "What kind of man is Farrakhan?".....through reading the scriptures I have come to know who he is.

At the end of the Million Man March, the Minister asked all of those men to make a pledge and I stood to make that pledge along with them via television. I then went home that night and re-watch the event on my recorded tape which I still have now in my home. My thought pattern about Black men would never be the same.

The next day on October 17, 1995, I returned back to school wearing a button that read "I Was One In A Million". My teachers and friends were asking me "How could you have been one in a million, when you didn't even go to DC?". I replied "Because we as Black men are all binded together through the same struggle so I was there in spirit"...needless to say that was the end of that conversation. But on the other hand I was treated like a "celebrity" the rest of that day because most of them respected the fact that I had stood up for something.



Regardless of what anyone says, the Million Man March impacted people all over the Planet Earth and the statistics have shown that it was a success. What do you think?

Out of that 1995 experience I then watched the Million Youth Movement and the Million Women March come to birth on TV. I had the honor of attending the Million Family March in 2000 with a caravan from my college Prairie View A&M University. I attended the launching of the Millions More Movement in 2005.

The word 'Million' is used so much now to the point that even when people know they will only get 100 people they call it a "Million....." gathering. It has been branded in people's minds and also the word "Movement".

Minister Farrakhan did that.

And now, 13 years later we have come to a critical point wherein Minister Farrakhan is set to announce a 'New Beginning' on October 19, 2008 in commemoration of the 13th Anniversary of the Million Man March and mark the Re-Dedication of Mosque Maryam in Chicago.

I will be watching. I invite you to do the same at www.finalcall.com

This is my Million Man March Experience...this is why I am.