This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March. A group of Penn State students got the chance to travel to Washington DC and take part in this historic event. Bako Ekoko (Sophomore, Labor & Employment Relations), wrote a guest piece on her experience at the event.
By: Bako Ekoko
On Saturday October 10, 2015 I marched alongside thousands of people and gathered at the National Mall in Washington DC as part of the 20th anniversary Million Man March, otherwise known as “Justice or Else. Walking alongside my PSU family, I was in awe of the solidarity and excellence that was surrounding me. There was so much love in the air! That day, it did not matter if we did not know who was to the right or left of us. We were all brothers and sisters with the same goal: Justice for the oppressed. Even though we gathered for a solemn occasion (to honor friends and family that are victims of discrimination and oppression), we all still had hope for justice, which empowered us to have a smile on our face.
What really amazed me about that this gathering, was the diversity and representation. Yes, black men were the majority of the crowd, but people of all races attended, showing support and walking alongside others. This march did not only focus on black men, as the previous one did, but brought attention to the stories of women, Native Americans, and veterans as well. As a woman, I was honored when the key speaker and organizer of the event, Louis Farrakhan, stated that women were the backbone of this struggle, and that we are only here because of a woman. This was a very important point to emphasize because one of the faults of the original march was that women were excluded.
Coming back from that experience, I felt empowered. I heard stories of strength from the families of Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and numerous others who were affected by police brutality. I hope that the words I heard during that day would stay with me for the rest of my life. The stories of perseverance, strength, and courage especially from family members who lost children that were my age or younger due to police brutality really pushed me to be more serious for the fight to justice. Men and women across America have had their worlds turned upside down for the basis of the color of their skin and I was a witness to their powerful narratives.
As Farrakhan said, “In 20 years, we will be gathering at that very spot again, but for another reason: celebration!”