Saturday, October 15, 2005

Not Quite a Million Man March ... Again

The Millions (Plus or Minus) More Movement kicked off today on the National Mall in Washington, DC, celebrating the tenth anniversary of its predecessor, the (Not Quote a) Million Man March. And as might be expected, it lived down to expectations.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that there weren’t some good things to come out of the original march – I’m just not really sure what they might have been. And according to Linda Boyd, a march spokeswoman, seems to agree.
“We did the march in 1995 and it was wonderful, but we see that our people are still in the same position we were in 10 years ago – and in some cases worse off,” Boyd said. “So while a march is important, we’d like to see a movement.”
Hence the name change from 95's Million Man March to this year's Millions More Movement. Pretty impressive, eh?

Just as the original march fell somewhat short of the much-hyped million man milestone, it appears at first glance that today’s much-heralded reincarnation of that event may not have made the mark. Even CNN, not known to be overly conservative in its reporting, admitted that:
...the gathering was significantly smaller than that of 1995, when Boston University researchers estimated between 600,000 and 1 million participants. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said subway ridership by 7 p.m. was 367,000, compared with a Saturday average of 275,000 to 300,000.
This reduction in numbers may come as a shock to the planners, who strategized to enlarge this year’s attendance:
Women, whites and other minorities had not been invited back then, but men and women of all ethnicities were welcome to the new gathering...
So the turnout might not have been quite what they expected, but what about the message? Organizer Louis Farrakhan promoted this year’s march as reaching across “political boundaries, religious differences, cultural differences.” And yet, in his speech to attendees today, the Nation of Islam leader cried that...
the federal government should be charged with "criminal neglect of the people of New Orleans."
"For five days, the government did not act. Lives were lost," Farrakhan said... "We charge America with criminal neglect."

Farrakhan appears to be broadening his message beyond those of concern specifically to black Americans and the poor. He denounced President Bush, the war in Iraq and Muslims who kill "innocent life for political purposes." He also called for unity with Africa, reparations for slavery, inclusion of undocumented immigrants and a government apology to American Indians.
According to the movement’s website, today’s program was to include speeches by former Washington DC Mayor (and ex-con) Marion Barry, Houston’s own Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, Malik Shabazz (National President of the New Black Panther Party), Harry Belafonte, Kanye West (who recently remarked during a live nationwide telethon that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”), and other politically divisive figures. Eugene Kane of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that...
There were political statements from civil right activists such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton, with criticism of President Bush woven into many of the speeches and signs displayed among the crowd.
Hardly an attempt to reach beyond political and social differences. As always, this so-called minister endeavors to drive his flock away from the fields of harmony and brotherly love, and into the chasm of racial and political divisiveness.

As a black man, and one who tries daily to look beyond the artificial boundaries of prejudice and intolerance, all I see in this march is an attempt by a group of tired old men to drive a further wedge of hatred and fear between the good people of this nation. It is time to reach across the various “cultural identities” so valued by the liberals of society and return to the melting pot mentality that helped to meld this nation into a world super-power. This is the future of America, the only one that may save America from itself.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm getting the feeling that you don't like these radical leaders and blowhards like Farrakhan, Sharpton, Jackson and their ilke. (Okay, actually I -know- you don't like them, but I just had to push your buttons a little.)

10/16/2005 1:29 AM  

Blogger Songbird said...

My apologies -- when I'm tired I tend to rant a bit and wander around the subject without much cohesion. Which is why I usually try not to write very often late at night.

But you're right, I get a little fed up with these guys. They just seem to be much more interested in promoting themselves than in offering valid solutions to the problems of society.

10/17/2005 7:57 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i cant beleive this bs. what right do you have to mock these men of god and what thay stnad for. you have no idea what its like being black in america today. what are you walking around in a white sheet or something. its pepole liek you thatare the reasin african people are pushed to the back of the bus and have to use seperate public restrooms and stuff. lit any burning croses lately.

10/17/2005 2:09 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, this should be good...

10/17/2005 3:11 PM  

Blogger Songbird said...

Baker394: Well, I'm really not sure what to say. And not quite certain I can respond to that without bursting into laughter. Again.

First, if you had bothered to read through the entire piece (all the way down to the last paragraph) before bursting into flames, you might have noticed that I actually do understand what it is like being black. Or at least, light brown. Been that way most of my life, in fact. (Although there was some question during my adolescence when I was caught shooting free throws "granny style.")

Beyond that, I'm just not sure what else to say. I, for one, have neither seen nor heard of any instances of the specific discriminations you mention in several decades, certainly not recently. I personally try to avoid using public restrooms whenever possible, but that's merely an issue of cleanliness. (Or the lack thereof.)

I don't care what color your skin is, America is not your enemy. Yes, the world will try to beat you down. But it has nothing to with your skin color, your religion, or anything else about you. We're human, and that's human nature. You are the only one who can fight back. And the best way to fight back is not to blame everyone else, but to pick yourself up and make things better.

My father always taught us, "Don't blame your circumstances on anyone – white, black, brown or polka-dotted." (Yup, he actually said that!) You are the only one responsible for where you end up, and it really doesn't matter where you started. Pops worked every day of his life to get out of the slum-like area he grew up in, and to get an education to boot. And he did quite well for himself, and started all of us kids off on the same road. Not that we had a lot of money, because we didn't. But we all grew up with a positive attitude, a love for this country and its people, and an eagerness to take our lives as far as we possibly could.

And one last thing. I'm not sure about your origins, but I myself am American. Not African. Not even African-American. Just plain old American, through and through. And if more of "our people" would begin to think of themselves that way, we would go a long way toward reducing the racial division that men like Jackson, Farrakhan and others work so hard to foment.

10/17/2005 3:32 PM  

Blogger Songbird said...

Hello? (hello... hello...) Anybody in there? (in there... there...)

Hmm. Guess he hung up.

10/19/2005 12:36 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call me crazy, but I always thought of America as a nation of free thinkers, not a nation of Islam. Songbird, I wholeheartedly second your consideration of self as American. I come from European lineage, but I am far more related to you as an American than I am to any European.

I like what your father had to say also concerning one's circumstances. That is a value I try to instill in my own children as well. It looks to me like your father did a good job of it. Keep up the good blogging.

10/31/2005 4:52 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Songbird, Your father is the perfect example of what it takes to make it in this country or any other for that matter. Stop negative thinking and concentrate on your God given strengths. Your Dad must be very proud!

6/07/2006 7:06 PM  

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