Twenty years ago black men converged in Washington, D.C., for a day of self-reflection and a commitment to be better. On October 10, they converged again for a demonstration marking the anniversary of the Million Man March. As usual whenever there is a move for black men to pull together for a positive purpose, there was very little said in the media. There was no hype. The major networks—even the major black network—said nothing. The one thing that did happen which happened 20 years ago is that some black men determined that they were going to live and act in a different way once they left the National Mall.
It was a day of atonement for black men. Called together by Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, black men from multiple denominations and backgrounds came together to repent for their sins and change their ways. The theme of the event was “Justice or Else!” Some of the same problems of injustice that propelled the 1995 march have continued to plague black America and issues such as police brutality have gained national attention in recent years.
The contrast between the full-blown media coverage of Ferguson and the riots in Baltimore in relation to the death of Freddie Gray and the scarce media coverage for the anniversary of the Million Man March is striking. There is something wrong with this picture. The media it seems is committed to a portrayal of black men as ignorant, aggressive, over-sexualized beasts. In contrast with that portrayal, there are black men all around America who every day are providing for their families, loving their women, and seeking justice. They are intelligent and aware of the need for change in their communities.
These are the men who are active in their churches and non-profit organizations. These are the men who refuse to call women out of their names. They are committed to teaching and raising the next generation. To be sure they don’t get a lot of publicity, but we know that they are there. No, they are not perfect, and they can be called out when they have gone astray. But know this: They are the heartbeat of their communities and they don’t do what they do for attention. They do it for love.
In 1 Kings 19:18, Elijah was told by God that He would leave seven thousand who had not bowed down to worship the pagan god Baal. In other words there was a remnant that remained faithful to God. The same could be said for black men who are committed to a better future for the African American community. They are a remnant—and the Million Man March and the marking of its anniversary are a witness to their existence even if the mainstream media doesn’t give them any airtime. As much as we see the negative portrayals of African American men in the media, we know there is a remnant that has not given up and succumbed to the darker demons of their nature. Although it doesn’t get a lot of attention, this is the reality we already know.