I was sitting in the U.S. Capital cafeteria having lunch with a prominent Congressperson. I was in Washington D.C. for the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March, a.k.a. “10-10-15.” The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan had made one of the boldest calls in the history of this nation when he declared the theme, “Justice Or Else.” Twenty years after the original Historic Million Man March, the Minister was back with strong divine demands doing what he does best as the preeminent voice of the oppressed. They doubted if anyone would show up in 1995. Twenty fifteen was no different.
Over lunch, the Congressperson was concerned that he’d seen very little about the “Justice Or Else” rally in mainstream media. I reassured him that it was part of the strategy. He went on to say that if the turnout was massive it would say a lot about the power of the new age/social media. I predicted the turnout would be huge; and it was. An estimated 1 million people physically showed up on the mall for 10.10.15, representing tens of millions more watching via internet. Not only did it reaffirm the power of social media, it exposed the potential “New Power” of Black media in general.
In order to put this in context, allow me to briefly take you down memory lane. In 1995, when Minister Farrakhan called for 1 million Black men to show up in Washington on a Monday for a Million Man March, many thought he was out of his mind. The mainstream media had no problem covering what was expected to be a huge failure. When nearly 2 million men showed for the largest peaceful gathering in American history, the best mainstream media could do was fabricate the numbers in order to discredit the message and the messenger. It did not work. History was made. And it wasn’t until it was too late that White-owned media realized how much they’d helped.
After the Million Man March’s success, there was apparently a covert campaign to ban Farrakhan from mainstream media outlets. This ban extended to college campuses, churches, etc. It was so obvious, that after many years of his absence from the national spotlight, some people thought the Minister had died. Then came the advent of the internet, social media and the leveling of the information playing field. Slowly, but surely, the game was changing.
Fast forward to Summer 2015. Minister Farrakhan, now at age 82, is in Miami holding a rally to galvanize the masses for 10.10.15. A writer from the Miami Herald, a mainstream outlet, is denied entry into the meeting. He wanted to cover the meeting, but there was NO MAINSTREAM MEDIA ALLOWED. All I could think of is what a difference a couple of decades makes. Twenty years ago mainstream media shut the door in the Minister’s face. Twenty years later, he was shutting the door in theirs. This was a profound moment for me. I think many of us missed it; including the Black press.
Anyone who knows The Minister knows that his work ethic is legendary. Despite extremely serious health challenges, at 82, he outworks a 22 year old. I’ve witnessed it. He traveled to dozens of cities on this tour and he ONLY GRANTED INTERVIEWS TO BLACK MEDIA OUTLETS. Many questioned the wisdom of his path, considering we needed all the help we could get to promote the big day. The Minister stuck to his principles. And God kept His promise. The “Justice or Else “ Movement was birthed into existence without the assistance of major information conglomerates. This was monumental on many levels.
Many people were angry about the mainstream media’s “blackout” of 10.10.15. I was happy. I posted my thoughts on my Twitter account. It read “THANK YOU TO MAINSTREAM MEDIA FOR NOT PROMOTING 1O.1O.15. ALL YOU DID WAS PROVE HOW MUCH WE DO NOT NEED YOU ANYMORE.” At that moment, I knew that Black media outlets had tapped into “new power.” By The Minister refusing White-owned media and giving exclusives to Black media outlets and personalities, it forced Black media to speak with a unified voice. As always, our unity bore fruit.
Black America’s ability to tell our own story has never been more profound. If we use social media to push positive narratives and support Black-owned media the way we should we would not have to complain about the negative, stereotypical images that mainstream media pushes like dope. The success of 10.10.15 was irrefutable proof that OUR OWN VOICES ARE ENOUGH! We can promote our own agenda without the help of mainstream media. We don’t need CNN, ABC, CBS, or MSNBC. All we need is U.N.I.T.Y.