by Cinque Brown
I attended the Million Man March (MMM) two years ago, along with my father and two of his friends. We skipped work and drove down to Washington, D.C. from New York City along with over a million other men. That was the first and probably only time in my life that my father felt more like my brother, than my father. The sense of brotherhood, solidarity, comraderie and unity that was in the air that night, was like nothing I have ever experienced before in my life. Total strangers were in complete fellowship in Washington,D.C., that day. It didn't make a difference whether or not you were a Republican, Democrat, PH.D., High School Dropout, Homosexual or a Gangbanger, if you were there, you were united for a common good with your fellow man.
There are some people who say that the MMM did "nothing". I disagree with this assessment. If a person, expected that the MMM would bring them a job, more money or some sort of economic advantage, well then, I can understand their dismay. In fact, like the MMM, the Million Woman March (MWM) will probably generate more revenue for white people (employees and their businesses) than it does for black people. Rodgers Travel, Inc., which is the official travel agency of the MWM, is Black owned and operated. But this is not the case for 95% of the participating discounted hotels who will make the bulk of that money. Rodgers Travel agency claims that they will donate seven to 10% of the proceeds to the MWM committee.
On the other hand, if a spiritual, inspirational and socio-psychological upliftment and redirection is what you seek at the MWM I am almost sure that you will find it there. (I have personally been transformed since my D.C. pilgrimage). The MWM committee released this statement as part of their official march purpose: "Philadelphia will never be the same, ........ and black people will never be the same because from this event, the lives of black men, women and children will be set in motion to obtain further upliftment and qualitative change." If half as many women show up to the MWM, as did men, to the MMM, then the sort of change spoken of will affect you no matter where you live in this country.
It is now two years later, and as I said before the sisters are saying "We Got Next". On October 25, a Million Woman are expected to march on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia which ironically is the "City of Brotherly Love".
The platform issues have been set for the MWM. Some of them are : The examination of Human Rights Violation and their effects, the further development of black women with political, entrepenurial and professional aspirations, methods of combating homelessness, development of health facilities which also offer alternative medicine and my personal favorite which is the development of black independent schools with a new millennium focus for kindergarten through 12th grade. These are just a few of the issues which will be addressed.
The choice of at least 10 speakers is still under review. It is not necessary that they get the ten "best" female speakers. It is more significant to gather ten who will be able to speak to a wide range of issues and audience preferences. If a sister like Coretta Scott King speaks then you can compliment her presence with a sister like Ramona Africa (MOVE member) or a Maya Angelou with a Dr.Frances Cres Welsing. Winnie Mandela should chair the march because my hypothesis is that despite the negative press she has received as of late, she will probably succeed Nelson Mandela as President of the now Democratic South Africa and speak for the voices of over twenty million women. Personally, (don't think I am crazy) I would like to hear former singer, Philadelphia native and now social- spiritual activist Lola Falana speak to some issues. She would be delighted if asked to speak. I will not offer you my top ten because for me to narrow that list down to ten is almost impossible and everyday I would have to revise it. I will say that it is a shame that the most courageous woman I have ever met, can never attend this event. She can not attend because of her political beliefs and because the 1960's cointelpro operations labeled her a threat to white supremacy and has forced her to live her life in exile in Cuba. Her name is Assata Shakur formerly known as Joanne Chesimard. It is because of this same type of injustice that over a million men marched in Washington, D.C and a million women plan to repeat this action. I hope that the MWM can gather much more momentum than the current ebb, it has.
I expect the MWM to be nostalgic of the time in black peoples history, when women ran civil administration, led armies against military foes, promoted long distance commerce and diplomatic relations . This was a reflection of a persistent matriarchal pattern in Africa.
Black women have been militant for quite a long time. Women like Harriet Tubman, were preceded centuries before by women like Queen Nzingha, (1582-1663) she preferred all her subjects to call her King. Nzingha fought against the Portuguese Army even as she was as old as 75. After her death on December 17,1663 the massive expansion of the Portuguese slave trade followed.
In closing I would like to leave you with the story of Yaa Asantewa, Queen mother in Ghana, this story comes from the book Ghana, A History for Primary Schools, by E.A. Addy.
The Golden Stool was the supreme symbol of the sovereignty and independence of the Ashanti people and folklore said that it contained the souls of the people. The British, in their attempt to take over Ghana, exiled King Prempeh in 1896. In 1900, still not being able to take control of Ghana, the Brits sent their Governor, Lord Hodgson to the city of Kumasi. He demanded that they surrender the Ark of the Covenant (Golden Stool) in addition to already kidnaping King Prempeh. The Ashanti heard Hodgson's speech and showed no reaction except silence. The meeting broke up quietly and the men went home to prepare for war. Asantewa saw that some of the chiefs were afraid. She then made a speech and said "I see that some of you fear to go forward to fight,... if you the men of Ashanti will not go forward, then we, the women will. We will fight the white men until the last of us falls in the battlefields." This stirred up the men so much that they released to attack the Brits. Asantewa was the leader of this war. The Ashanti cut the telegraph and surrounded the British Fort, many of the Brits died of disease and starvation, after many months. This was the beginning of the Ashanti war against the British which started in 1805 and lasted for nearly a hundred years.
Million Woman March info: