A large number of young Black minds; passionate supporters of the “Justice or Else” Campaign, Students of the Nation of Islam and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan converged on the National Mall Saturday, October 10, 2015 during the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C.
Students from well-known Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) were driven to attend the history-breaking event and arrived at the nation’s capital by bus and plane.
Kaleb Taylor, a student activist from Texas Southern University (TSU) and Kierra Wilson, a student at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) arrived in D.C. on Thursday, October 8, 2010 to attend lectures on the campus of Howard University (HU) and participate in the “Justice or Else” rally. There is not an estimate of attendance given by the National Park officials, but the crowd was excitingly overwhelming. Taylor said seeing the number of Black people coming together “regardless of religion, class, or creed” to stand together in unity was a beautiful thing to witness.
“We came for the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March – the “Justice or Else” event on October 10, 2015″ Taylor said. “The Houston activists, or conscious community is relatively small, and we saw a lot of those ‘Brothas and Sistas’ out here.”
Taylor is one of the organizers for #TakeBackTSU, a social media movement that made national attention in the press last month. He said he used social media to make connections with like-minded youth at the rally on Saturday, but Lynette Monroe, a grad student pursing an M.A. in African Studies at Howard University said she was unable to “live tweet” the way she’d planned due to poor reception on the national lawn.
“I know a lot of people on social media were complaining. Most of the major news outlets weren’t there,” said Taylor. “It was interesting to see the lack of media presence at a positive event like this.”
The attendance of major news organizations was not the only thing lacking on the nation’s capital on Saturday during the march – so was the Wi-Fi connection.
“I don’t think the lack of cellular reception was specific to the Million Man March because I have been to several events here such as the Presidential Inaugurations in 2008 and 2012, and had the same experience with connection,” said Monroe. “Or it may also be due to so many people being in one area at a time.”
Taylor compares the lack of media attention during the Million Man March on Saturday to the reporting during the uprising and rioting in cities like: Baltimore and Ferguson – how major news groups put attention on the destructive behavior of those Black community members during a time of high emotion and poor reactions, and why the same attention was not put on an event, like the rally on Saturday, where the message is clear and emotion is specifically directed towards an issue without negative consequences.
“It was interesting to see, but I believe our generation is fortunate enough to not have to depend on mainstream media for information,” said Taylor, “I think once again – it shows the power that social media can have.”
Kierra Wilson said she is excited about the next phase in the movement and everything that has been organized away from social media and the internet – the actual work.
“I hope people realize that this is only the beginning,” Wilson said. “Now we’re in the second phase – October 11th and beyond.”
Wilson said it was nice having the support from other HBCUs. “Even before we came out here – the support we had from Howard University was crazy,” she said.
The PVAMU student said before receiving funding from her school, the traveling students were actually supposed to be boarding on campus at Howard University.
“The HU students opened up their doors to us,” Wilson said. “It was amazing to see all of these young adults coming together – and realizing that we have a problem and we have things that we have to work for.”