Having seen how Black people are mistreated in our country, not only historically but presently, I thought about that gloriously perfect day on which more than one million strong Black men stood on Washington's Mall, loving, trusting and respecting one another. I thought about those I met that day, not having seen them since, and relished the notion of over one million strong Black men coming to the rescue of our children, as in the case of William Mayo, who has sat in a Georgia prison for 15 years for something he did not do; I smiled at the thought of us standing up for Genarlow Wilson, also in a Georgia jail; I beamed as the image of our brothers taking up the mantle of the Jena Six shot through my mind. Where are they now, I wondered.
In the 11 years since "The" Million Man March (MMM), we have seen many events that continue to let us know our lives are less valued than the lives of others. We have been put on notice by the courts and the penal system that we count for nothing more than another occupant for an $80,000 prison cell and $30,000 annual upkeep.
The abuse of Black life is not waning, rather it is on the rise, from both outsiders and insiders, those who hate us and those among us who are acting just plain foolish and trifling. We are being killed and imprisoned at an alarming rate while we stand idly by in our respective cities and do little or nothing to curtail the violence against ourselves and the violence perpetrated against us by this evil corrupt system under which we live. Where are the million strong?
The newest and latest weapon of choice for zealous police officers, which is also the huge money-making machine for crooks like Rudi Giuliani's boy, Bernard Kerik and others, the infamous 50,000-volt "portable electric chair" known as the Taser, has killed Black folks across the country. We failed to come out by the millions to protest this cash cow, this so-called less-than-deadly weapon, and now there are actually laws on the books that allow it to be used on 7-year-old children.
Here is the call. If you attended the MMM, if you supported the MMM, if you wanted to go to the MMM and could not, if you participated in some of the post MMM initiatives, if you were a young man and could not attend the MMM because of school, I want you to do something now. You are 10 years older and, I trust, 10 years wiser, 10 years more experienced, 10 years more committed, and 10 years tired of the rhetoric regarding "what we need to do." Whether you know it or not, or even believe it or not, you are part of the group that will take Black people to a higher level of responsibility, respect and commensurate action vis-à-vis those statistics Sister Edney wrote about in her article.
I want you to go two Web sites: www.overonemillionstrong.org (or call 1-866-200-3174) and www.bringbackblack.org and begin the process of recapturing the strength and resolve of one million Black men who were so intimidating that the federal government virtually shutdown the day we came to town. This time, however, I want us to demonstrate that same strength by turning it into real power, not just influence but genuine power. How? First by registering and letting us know who you are, where you are and what you are doing. Second, even though it's late notice, consider coming to the national "gathering" at the Dudley Manufacturing and Convention Complex in Kernersville, NC on Oct. 12-14. Call 773-779-3334 for information or see the Bring Back Black Web site.
Finally, I want you to recommit, not only to the spirit of what we had in D.C. 11 years ago, but also to the actual charge to leave that place and do something to help our people. The first step in that "doing" phase is to reconnect and then stay connected, followed by an action that will demonstrate that Black is back! Surely one million of us can do something collectively by aggregating our resources in support of one another, by sharing information and working cooperatively to take control of our destiny, and by standing up to this unrighteous system and not only saying "enough is enough" but really showing that we mean it. Where are the million strong? Where are you?
James Clingman is an author of economic empowerment and founder of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce.