Tyree and Nia are publishers of magazines on line and in print. We also had the friendship of the many people who rode the bus to N.Y. with us. We had newcomers like Dan Butler Jr.and veterans like Brother Harold who owns the black book store at 4801 Benning Rd. and was the trip sponsor. His bus was an education in the making. We all came to the front and introduced ourselves one by one. He made us all feel welcomed as food and drink were made available along with educational handouts. That Brother Harold is an okay guy that exudes love for his people.
We arrived in Harlem at about 12:20 pm.to a vibrant and energetic Malcolm X Blvd crowd. Our bus let us off at Sylvia's the famous soul food and entertainment spot.We were asked to be back at 7:00 pm.for departure. This place called HARLEM was so captivating with enthusiasm that even a veteran writer like me was taking in by the vitality and culture of this historic and rich wonder. What a joy to see vendors selling needed items instead of drugs etc. This place was really jumping all day. To see Black people in this environment is like being back in the 60's before the riots and drugs ruined our tranquility. I sensed right away that the people in Harlem now have a hope about the future. To be the focus of nationwide attention by the media for a weekend is thrilling for residents that are usually the object of media neglect.
The march itself was very inspiring with an orderly array of speakers leading up to Brother Khalid Muhammed. The crowd was as peaceful as any I had ever witnessed and as polite as a host could be.The city of New York used an alarming amount of rooftop and ground troops to control a crowd that needed none of it. The crowd contrary to white media reports was HUGE. I looked back from my media vantage point and could not see the end of the crowd on MALC.X Blvd.What was really unsettling to me was the police presence.I never felt they were there to protect the people. They seemed more ready to take a life than to save one. This was more of a war zone for these bulletproof wearing trained officers of the law. I never saw the need for (1) officer the whole day.They stood around all day in hopes of war but got a lovefest instead.
The program was punctuated by speeches by Shaunette Daniels, Q Hasani Nubia, Anthony Mack and others. We were treated to cultural performances by Hector Rivera and a very moving performance by Christine "Firestarter" Gilliam that brought tears to many. Black power was the chant of the crowd all day. The crowd was urged to raise a Black fist to represent Black power.When done in unison, it has powerful overtones. Atty. Malik Zulu Shabazz was the glue that made the march work. His involvement with the courts help make the march possible. A permit was issued just days before the march was to happen. The keynote speaker was Min. khalid Muhammed. He spoke for 75 minutes on the 7 point plan of action. It was well received by the appreciative crowd of young and old people.The plan of action is as follows;
1.End police murder,brutality and harassment of our people.
2.Self defense of the black community. Build a people's militia.
3.Control of the politics and economics in our communities. Build independent political, social and financial institutions in our community.
4.Build independent community controlled schools.
5.Reperations for the descendants of African people enslaved inside the USA.
6.Free all political prisoners and prisoners of war.
7.Self determination for the Black nation.
He encouraged the crowd to give the white man back his name.He told the youth to treat our women with more respect,to stop calling each other DOG.He told the crowd to never show violence toward one another.He said that if someone steps on YOUR toe YOU should apologize to them.He was an inspiration to some dispised and rejected people.I was expecting the child of SATAN according to all reports but was treated to a lecture that was outstanding in it's effect.Some very high ranking Black people called for people to stay home today in opposition to this march. What a mistake it would have been to listen to politicians with no plans over a group that at least has a plan.
I was delighted to see a peaceful conclusion to a day long march. Min.Khalid told the crowd to depart in an orderly fashion and it followed his advice to the tee. Nia Shabazz was covering the march for her magazine and took many pictures and interviewed march goers leaving the march.We were satisfied that the march was a big hit with our people and a disappoitment to the police who expected trouble. We all ended up appreciating that our people have the ability to come together and get things done without interferences. We couldn't get out of Harlem without dinner at Sylvia's,so in we went.They had the usual assortment of soul food available and we got our fix.
We had a couple of hours to kill so Anisa and I walked around Harlem like we lived there. We felt at home and at peace with our people there.We talked to residents and blended in with the crowd.We crossed the street to get to a fruit stand and ran into Min Khalid Muhammed and his entourage outside the fresh fruit store on Martin Luther King Blvd. He was attracting the usual amount of attention with Atty.Malik Shabazz close by. Anisa wanted to thank the brothers for putting on a good march but for security reasons didn't want to approach too fast and without warning.We waited within reaching distance without disturbing them. Without warning Brother Khalid came over to Anisa and I and embraced us as friends do. We were able to thank him for the march up close and personal.What a treat after a long day. The marches legal counsel Malik Shabazz was a study in goodwill as he approached me hand extended to convey and accept good wishes about the march. If this is any indication of the future, the future is pretty bright. This march showed that we have unlimited potential even when we have strong opposition.The lesson WE learned is not to take the word of people that have not and will not get up and do anything to help us.
I was surprised at the nature of the people in Harlem who have survived a history of misinformation. These people were cordial and have made me want to return to visit soon.There was no shortage of opinions here. I left DC determined to write an unbiased story but being Black puts me in a biased position. The march will be held again next year and I plan on being there. I hope that you can join us there. We need someone there to tell the real story so I will be there reporting as usual.
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