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MUHAMMAD: Long Live the Spirit of the Million Man March

Askia Muhammad | 10/16/2013, 3 p.m.
Askia Muhammad

Long live the Spirit of the Million Man March!

It’s incredible, but young men and women, who were born on Monday, Oct. 16, 1995, the day of the Million Man March, are now already 18 years old, adults.

Maybe some of them have heard of that magical day, the day I use to separate time, like B.C. and A.D. Before the Million Man March we were like crabs in a barrel, unable to permit (let alone assist) another crab from escaping. On that day we saw ourselves as a mighty force, which could with our unity provide shoulders upon which we as brethren could stand – a veritable platform for the elevation of our Black nation. It was a transcendent moment in Black American history.

This is not to say that we haven’t slid back from that Olympian height, because we have. For example, former death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal reported that a young inmate he met this year in the general population at Pennsylvania’s Mahanoy State Correctional Institution asked him as an apparent wise old elder: “Who is that Martin Luther King folks be talkin’ about? Was he a rapper?”

But on that day, before Brother Mumia’s interlocutor had ever dreamt of committing a crime, Black men suspended their petty rivalries with one another over job opportunities, the affections of girls and women ... whatever.

For that one day, accountants, teachers, preachers, students, janitors, bus drivers; even drug dealers, thieves, cheats, pimps and swindlers, as well as the countless snitches and the other bottom-feeders they attract stood together, shoulder-to-shoulder and we proved that we understood that we could be the masters of our own destiny.

That day, without any assistance or need for permission from anyone else, Black men respected themselves. They commanded the respect of the world!

On that day of that march in Washington when 2 million men assembled, there was hardly one single crime reported in the entire city – the city that was known as the “murder capital” of the world. There were no muggings, no burglaries that day. That day.

What must have been the most endearing moment of many, many moments on October 16, 1995 was the recitation of the Million Man March Pledge which Million Man March convener, Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam asked us to take. It was pure poetry. Poetry disguised as “straight words.”

“I, (state your name), pledge that from this day forward I will strive to love my brother as I love myself. I (state your name), from this day forward will strive to improve myself spiritually, morally, mentally, socially, politically, and economically for the benefit of myself, my family and my people. I (state you name), pledge that I will strive to build business, build houses, build hospitals, build factories and enter into international trade for the good of myself, my family and my people.

“I pledge that from this day forward I will never raise my hand with a knife or a gun to beat, butt, or shoot any member of my family or any human being except in self defense. I pledge that from this day forward I will never abuse my wife by striking her, disrespecting her, for she is the mother of my children and the producer of my future. I pledge that from this day forward I will never engage in the abuse of children, little boys or little girls for sexual gratification. For I will let them grow in peace to be strong men and women for the future of our people.

“I (state your name) will never again use the ‘B-word’ to describe any female. But particularly my own Black sister. I pledge from this day forward that I will not poison my body with drugs or that which is destructive to my health and my well being. I pledge from this day forward I will support Black newspapers, Black radio, Black television. I will support Black artists who clean up their acts to show respect for themselves and respect for their people and respect for the ears of the human family.

“I will do all of this, so help me God.”

So, help me God! ... Please help me God!

This year, as the Million Man March “comes of age” – Lawd willin’ and the crick don’t rise – the commemoration will be held at Tuskegee, where self-help was literally bred into the DNA of that school, by founder Booker T. Washington.

I’ll be there. So, help me God! ... Please help me God!