Free in DC For MOW 50 Part One: BABYLON

Me outside of the MLK statue. It was like Mecca. LOL

Me outside of the MLK statue. It was like Mecca. Sorry for that crazy look in my eyes. No idea what expression that is. LOL

Alright. This’ll be a series of my personal coverage of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington/Civil Rights Movement. I went down to DC and participated in some of the festivities. Also interviewed some awesome folks from my area (Delaware County, PA) and want to share their stories.

First, let me get my personal views out of the way…

“… America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”

These words were taught to my brother and I by our late mother, Robin Yvonne Butler Smith. Her reasoning to teach us this was to impart what she deemed as the actual “meat” of Dr. King’s celebrated, so-called, “I Have A Dream Speech.” While “dream” portion of Dr. King’s speech has been immortalized for it’s poetic appeal, I feel as though the part our mother imparted to us is just as poetic and actually defines the impetus behind the March On Washington For Jobs and Freedom.

I never got the official “point” of the day, but the inexplicably narrow walkways and asinine boundaries, made getting to the stage to hear the speeches next to impossible, forcing many (who couldn’t charge phones or get reception for some reason) to just mill around and lend an ear to the plethora of agendas being pumped, which my generation would call “cooking.”

Now (though tangential at points) the people “cooking” for the cessation of racial profiling (most using the image of Trayvon Martin), improvements in the labor realm and marriage equality, “cooked” appropriately, at least somewhat sticking to the tenants of the original march. On the other hand, anti-abortion folks to weed legalization folks to socialists and everyone in-between “cooked” and they “cooked” in separate-but-equal kitchens. Those issues had nothing to do with the March. These “chefs” along with the people selling wares, were just taking advantage of the moment, I believe.

Nevertheless, I rode back to Chester, PA happy that I had attended. It was a beautiful display of black love (not overlooking the diversity of the crowd). Cordiality abounded. It was an upgrade of the 2nd Million Man March that I participated in as student at Howard University.

As I drove home from Chester High, I stopped to get something to eat. I was smoking a cigarette and a fellow young, black man, around my age, approached me and asked for one. I gave him one. He then tried to sell me some obviously stolen colognes. I told him I’d spent all my cash in DC. He asked me why he was hearing so much about DC. I told him that I’d attended the 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington. He asked me, “What is that?” I was shocked. I gathered myself and could only muster, “I Have A Dream speech?” He said “Oh. OK,” made one last sales pitch and went on his way.

It flashed me back to tutoring in a writing center in West Philadelphia. I was helping a black girl in the 3rd grade with her assignment: an essay about Dr. King. I forget what I the prompt wanted, but I was flabbergasted when I had to explain to her, not only who Dr. King was, but I had to explain to her in laymen’s terms that “White people used to be mean to black people.” We never finished the essay, and the experience was so disheartening that I soon stopped tutoring there.

I say all this to say, that it’s great to have a reenactment of the March on Washington, but an agenda that we need is the eradication of black nihilism. Adults and children alike do not know, nor do they care about their history. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that even at Howard, the majority of my peers didn’t know that we had our own national anthem and flag and didn’t care much about it.

All in all, my March on Washington experience made me an advocate for the refurbishment of our pride as a people before we do anything else. I see the need for our history and culture  to be made a lot more prevalent to everyone in our communities. The words of Malcolm X ring true, “Just as a tree without roots is dead, a people without history or cultural roots also becomes a dead people.”

In the words of Dr. King, the learned and affluent in the black community owe a check to the ones out here lost and it can’t bounce once we do.  Not only do the funds have to be in place and available to recipients the day they come to cash it, we have to actually entice them into cashing it. It’s time to get back to basics.

See what I mean? I have no idea. If you could explain, please do...

See what I mean? I have no idea. If you could explain, please do…

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One of the many socialists "chefs" out there...

One of the many socialists “chefs” out there…

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A man reciting the "I Have A Dream Speech" by the King Memorial...

A man reciting the “I Have A Dream Speech” by the King Memorial…

The Metro had to make a few million. It was a madhouse. Happy to see the little ones out, though.

The Metro had to make a few million. It was a madhouse. Happy to see the little ones out, though.

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It really was like Mecca...

It really was like Mecca…

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