It has been 18 whole years this October since one of the most historic walks in Washington D.C., the Million Man March. On October 16, 1995 a mass movement ensued as men gathered to bond, advocate change, and call for action. There were numerous societal epidemics and challenges happening in the nineties, like the increased violence in communities, drugs maddening the streets and those who used them, plus the politics of employment or lack thereof. There were many reasons for the march around the National Mall that fall October day.
It had only been 32 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and thousands of others joined together for the March on Washington. As the years flew by the world changed some, but there was much more to be accomplished. Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan brought forth the Million Man March in 1995, along with other prominent activists and organizations like the NAACP. They saw a need to stand up and get the attention of politicians to see the urgency to improve urban communities, educational issues, police brutality, voting impurities, and so much more. It was equality, peace and organized leadership that needed improvement, so they marched in unison, African American men from across the United States.
In 1996 director Spike Lee created the film Get on the Bus, which told the story of a group of African American men heading to D.C. for the Million Man March. Quite a few endeavors had occurred post march to keep the momentum of a revolution going. There may have been controversy surrounding Louis Farrakhan’s racial views at the time, or the argument of the crowd size not quite reaching a million; however, there is no question an impact was established. The march not only brought upon a deeper conversation of how we all can step up to make change, the march also paved the way for a legacy that speaks to how cultural changes can happen. The eighteen years since the Million Man March has led leaders and speakers across the United States and the rest of the world to continue doing the work for African American males of all ages.
You might not be aware of or know a whole lot about who is taking action, but they’re out there. Here are a few individuals/organizations you should know:
Founded by Joaquim Hamilton and Aviel Ayoung in 2004 while attending Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, these gentlemen have done just that: Made an impact. The presence of Black male leadership was lacking and the duo shared a vision. What began on their campus at the time as just a student-based organization transformed quickly into a movement, recruiting more members every year. In 2012 IMPACT, Inc. (Intelligent Men of Color Purposefully Accomplishing College Together) became a non-profit organization whose mission is to “Increase the retention and graduation rates of male students of color at institutions of higher education.” IMPACT has expanded their network and their members beyond its original inception. They are now impacting students at Arcadia University, also in Pennsylvania, with potentially other school chapters to come.
Dr. Steve Perry
He’s an educator and enforcer in American culture, a man who has shown the values of empowering youth and beyond. A “Jack of all trades” in his own right, Dr. Steve Perry wears many hats–a profound speaker, author, principal, contributor to many news outlets, and mentor. As the host of TVONE’s current docudrama Save Our Sons, helping African American teenaged boys, he has continued to educate and share his own testimony of breaking barriers and the urgency to climb toward success.
There is much that can be said about the ever-present Reverend Al Sharpton. He is a great pillar in not only black culture but in the entire world. He’s run for president, protested for peace, ministered the troubled and he continues to do the work much like during the Million Man March. A prominent leader and founder of NAN (National Action Network), a non-profit civil rights organization in Harlem, NY, Reverend Sharpton is renowned and often a championed speaker for the unheard.
100 Black Men of America
From 1963 to present, 100 Black Men of America, Inc. has implemented programs and services to youth. The organization has taken a stance in many cities across the country and has grown now to over 116 chapters and more than 10,000 members. Offering leadership and a diverse support system, 100 Black Men has defined that with development, values and integrity, opportunities for young Black males can exist.
Elishia Peterson is a blossoming freelance journalist based in Philadelphia. Her work has been featured on publications including Crème Magazine, Cred, and Examiner covering budget fashion stories. She recently earned her Masters degree in Writing Studies which has pushed her to strive to be creative in her craft.