*October 16th will be the 15th anniversary of the Million Man March on Washington D.C. At the behest of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, men of African descent from all over the world joined together to portray a vastly different image to the world.
On that day, dubbed a “National Day of Atonement,” black men pledged to fight against the socio-economic ills that face black people and to cease being a part of the problem. On that day the lives of many men were changed, including that of the writer of this piece.
Though the intentions of those in attendance were pure, some would say the day accomplished nothing at all as many of the issues we pledged to stand against, including gang violence, has come back stronger than ever, one would argue, after a brief ebb.
But there are those that feel we can still seize upon that occasion of October 16, 1995 and still bring about change. Director Glenn R. Towery is one of those people. He was present at the Million Man March on that sunny day in D.C. with a camera. That footage has now been made into the documentary titled “Long Live the Spirit of the Million Man March.” (Scroll down to watch the trailer.)
“If we can go back to that (feeling) at the Million Man March, if only we can take people back to that feeling,” said Towery. “We need a new place from which to start. We had a place where we could start where all the people could come together in love, caressing, holding, understand and acknowledging each other on that day.”
Though the 15th anniversary of the Million Man March is important to many African American men, to some it is just another day. I recall that day as being one of the most beautiful sights that I had seen to date in my young life, and only the birth of my two children have proven more aesthetically pleasing. That day witnessed an ocean of black men coming together to represent a positive set of ideas, and to claim their place as head of their own respective communities and households.
“We can use that now because that day 15 years ago was not that long ago,” Towery explained to EURweb’s Lee Bailey. “Fifteen years was just like yesterday. I spent 15 years trying to get this project done, but I didn’t know why. I all knew was that it was important. From my animal senses, all I knew is what I had experienced. I had experienced something that touched my life … that changed me as a man. As a person it made me aware, I became conscious. This project provides a foundation to rekindle that spirit and we can start from there. We can make this a platform from which to do the next things that we are meant to do, we can change all of these things. I am convinced of that. The problem then becomes ‘Well, how do you rekindle that spirit?’ There are a lot of men that went to the Million Man March. We have to bring them forward.”
Though emotionally I recall the day as one in which men of African descent from across the globe came together to celebrate the things that they all had in common, and to address their common enemies, my mind tells me there has been relatively little change in our communities. In fact, there are many problems that have gotten worse. But this doesn’t dissuade Glenn Towery at all.
“We didn’t do all of the things in our community that we had said we would set out to do,” he admitted. “(But) we also have to say to ourselves ‘It’s never too late.’ We rekindle that spirit, we get ourselves together, sit down and stop depending on others. This is our time! Right now we have a black president. He can’t help us! He can only do so much. The government is struggling to try to survive itself. The answer is within us, even with all that’s going on, we can have a renaissance. It starts with us finding that love and that caring that we had that day at Million Man March. Being a collective that day; not being about anything negative, but being about love and saying ‘What can we do to help ourselves?’ And in the process of helping ourselves I truly believe we can help others.”
Upon sitting down and speaking with Mr. Towery it was apparent that he was very passionate about his film, and his cause.
“I care about people, I care about where we’re going,” Towery told us. “I just see so much brilliance in people and it’s going to waste, I see such beauty in people that may never be shown. I say to myself ‘There’s got to be a better way to get this out because we are such beautiful people’.”
Obviously, Towery and many more are passionate about the Million Man March, while others are not even lukewarm on it. I can recall the American media reporting there were only 400,000 people present, meanwhile the British media was reporting 1.5 million. Some felt the estimates were purposefully underestimated to undermine the event’s leading figure Minister Louis Farrakhan. Towery says it is for this reason that this story must be told through the eyes of black folks.
“I think that it’s important that a African American director tells the story from the perspective of African American people,” he explained. “So often what happens is these types of stories are retold and we’re not involved in the telling. We have no emotional linkage to it in the retelling of it. But I try to tell the story by using the lens through the eyes of the people that are there, and I can also relate what I was experiencing at that time. We all had different stories, but every man experienced something at the Million Man March.”
Those stories are as numerous as the imaginations of those in attendance, but the director of “Long Live the Spirit of the Million Man March” believes it goes a lot deeper than that.
“Over the course of human history, never before have nearly 2 million men come together in one place to pray, to atone, to be together, to love,” Towery enthused. “Never before! It’s something that’s almost of Biblical proportions. Nearly 13 years after the Million Man March, when you take a little at all the themes of the Million Man March, a black man was elected president of the United States of America. The paradigm changed. You can’t tell me prayer isn’t powerful, you can’t tell me meditation and love isn’t powerful. You can’t tell me that it doesn’t have an effect on the universe, on this planet, on lives.
“What’s more important than knowing that at one point a million black men loved you enough to go and take a stand,” Towery continued. “That’s a foundation to begin to love one’s self right there. You then begin to see the importance of loving your brother right there. It’s an act that is unparallel in the annuls of human history, man!”
“Long Live the Spirit of the Million Man March” is currently available on DVD at Millions13.com and Amazon.com. The project has already received great reviews as well as a “Platinum Empixx Award” from the American Pixel Association. It appears as though brothers and sister are being awarded all over the place for their great cinematic works. We hope to continue talking to them and letting you know all about their great projects.
Watch the trailer for “Long Live the Spirit of the Million Man March”: