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Today, we have a guest blogger. One of my dearest friends, Miss Lasondra Wilson of Yellowcake Bakery. She had the amazing opportunity to attend the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. It only seemed fitting to have her recollect her experience there on this day where we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I hope that we can use this day as more than just an extra day off, but to really think about how we can make this world a truly better and more equal place for all people. Read about her experience after the jump and enjoy!

Today is the day set aside by our country to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His birthday is deemed the day suitable to honor and remember a man who gave his life to leading people into a new way of thinking by challenging the status quo.

In response to the efforts of Dr. King and countless others, laws were eventually passed due to the civil unrest that was occurring. Yet in spite of their tenacious bravery, there is still much work left to be done to change institutional policies that reflect discrimination as well as the changing of hearts. Many people are taking it upon themselves to further the black community and fight for equality. Avenues such as entrepreneurship and travel are being used to transform how we as people of color see ourselves and our potential, as well as challenging how other people, especially white people, see us.

However, our best efforts are shrouded by new ways to discourage and discredit people of color. We are still bombarded with inequality in the justice system and the workforce. We are still used as money makers in entertainment and are dying at the hands of law enforcement officers because many of them cannot tell the difference between unarmed individuals and people who are an actual threat.

It is at this intersection of supposed equality and racism woven into the fabric of our nation, that we find the twentieth anniversary of the Million Man March. First brought about in 1995 and set into motion by Louis Farrakhan and other Black organizations, it was an event to showcase our united front and present an image of the black male that differed from the common negative portrayal. Yet twenty years later, it was deemed necessary again. Despite our supposed advancement as a people, October 16th, 2015, was seen as a day to show that we would again stand united against the civil unrest, and not sit by while injustice prevails.

I had the opportunity to attend the march. I had minimal knowledge of the first and no Idea what to expect at this one. But I went despite my reservations about Farrakhan and thoughts about what this March would mean to me. How would I, a young black woman on vacation from her teaching job respond to this gathering? I can’t say I agreed with everything said, but what I saw and felt was more inspiring than what I heard.

I saw beautiful brown people up early in the morning yearning to see and hear the words spoken by our brothers and sisters, and not running late like the satirical stereotype assumes.

I looked in front of me and behind me and saw families and friends gathered together, smiling and being kind to one another in spite of the reports that most of our men are in jail, most of our mothers single, and constant claims of black on black violence. I saw the light in my boyfriend’s eyes as he listened and watched, invigorated by the sight and inspired to press forward as the confident, intelligent black man he is, not the stereotype he may be assumed to fit. I heard not only black people, but Chicano and Native Americans speaking not for, but with black people, as we share common knowledge of oppression in this country.

This March was for Dr. King, for Malcolm X, and for the Little Rock 9, and any other person who inserted themselves into the fight and became a part of history. There were rows and groups of imperfect people, dropping their differences and defenses to unify for this cause -Justice or Else. Because Dr. King was our “or else”; Malcolm was our “or else’’; and Emmett, Oscar, Trayvon, Eric, and Sandra. They are our “or else”. So in the spirit of Dr. King on the day set aside to honor him, however ironic that might be, the twentieth anniversary of the Million Man March comes to mind. Dr. King said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

So we must demand freedom my beautiful ones; in the legacy of Dr. King, in unity with all those who participated in the march, and in remembrance of those who have died for justice and at the hands of injustice.

 

Demand freedom, or else.

 

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