Phillip Jackson | Web Editor
On Saturday October 10, people across the country traveled to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March with this year’s theme being #JusticeOrElse.
Travelers gathered in front of the Capitol Building as early as 5 a.m., others gradually came between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Some of those travelers included Hampton University students.
Although the goal was to bring together a mass of a million people in solidarity, another perspective is understanding what this event means for the millennial generation.
This march is nothing new, it was done 20 years ago. It was more of a program of speakers as opposed to an actual march through the streets of Washington, D.C. Many college students made their way for this event hoping to be a part of history.
Minister Louis Farrakhan, brought back the event a decade ago. Now that it has returned in 2015, how is it resonating with this generation?
“10 years ago I was able to attend the 10th annual Million Man march with my dad,” said Richard Burrell, a senior accounting major from Baltimore.
Richard Burrell, who also serves as the President of the NAACP chapter at Hampton University attended the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March when he was 10 years old. Now a decade later, Burrell feels that he understands it more.
“Being 20, I felt a need to go because now that I have matured and understand ideologies and practices that justify unequal distribution of privileges or rights among different racial groups.”
Many people attended the march in 1995. Majority of those attendees were black men waiting to hear Minister Farrakhan speak. “I remember packing my lunch, but it wasn’t on a school day,” said James Benbow III, a 2nd-year architecture major from Washington, D.C. who was four years old at the time.
“We got on the train at Anacostia station and rode it down to Gallery Place. I remember my father being overwhelmed and crying. I guess because he was able to experience this with me.”
However, two decades have passed. The march had to adjust with the progression of technology, and it did. The rally targeted the digital generation of today. The #JusticeOrElse campaign used social media as its tool to connect to people.
There were promotional videos spreading through Twitter, flyers posted on Instagram, and an actual #JusticeOrElse app available for people to download with live footage available for people to watch on their mobile phones.
In addition to shifting to the new digital age of activism, there was no gender bias on who could attend. “I actually cried when they played the slide show of all the people who died as a result of police brutality,” said Nia King, a junior psychology major from Long Beach, California. “When the mother of Trayvon Martin spoke it really showed her strength. She is still fighting after all these years.”
The overall message during the march seemed to be directed towards the black community as a whole. Although there were no set plans of action stated during Farrakhan’s speech, the feeling during the event showed positivity.
Despite the broadness of the message of Farrakhan’s keynote speech, the environment was still impactful. “The Million Man March was a significant matter for me to take part in,” said Tyler Brice, a junior political science major and a native of Columbia, South Carolina.
“I didn’t agree with everything that Minister Louis Farrakhan said, [i.e. the place of a woman in a home] but I wasn’t surprised by those parts of his speech because this event was sponsored by the Nation of Islam.”
While people gathered amidst the crisp wind in front of the steps of Capitol Hill, the #JusticeorElse rally seemed to be an event that although had conflicting views, still brought solidarity.