I went to the Millions More Movement because I wanted to be reenergized. A long time activist, I was stagnant and had stopped doing the things I was used to doing: calling my representatives in Congress, petitioning various agencies on behalf of causes important to me, and I still hadn’t managed to move the Saturday school that my nonprofit organization, I Am The Light Of The World, Inc., had been planning to reopen off the drawing board. And so I hopped on a bus on Friday, October 14, hoping that standing side by side with my brothers and sisters would propel me to continue. I was on the verge of giving up but I wanted to be saved so I could carry out my plans to help save the world! However, when I arrived at the Washington Mall on Saturday, I realized that I would have to save myself.
The energy on the Mall was so low that it was almost nonexistent. People rested comfortably in portable lounge chairs and I certainly couldn’t fault them for that since my sister, Cheryl, and I had spent considerable time finding the perfect lightweight chair for the event. Still, I was disappointed because the scene looked and felt more like a huge outdoor gathering at a picnic or concert than the prelude to a movement that would transform the African- American community nationally and spread across borders to touch millions more worldwide. My sister and I settled in briefly where we first arrived but after despairing about the lack of energy, we decided that we would be the energy, or at least, we would go find some. So we picked up our chair and began the hunt.
We didn’t find it. We found wonderful memorabilia. I purchased several buttons and an official baseball cap and Cheryl bought a poster. It was refreshing to see that men outnumbered women because usually it’s the other way around. To us, the brothers were signifying their desire to be a part of a great shift in our community. But we never found the energy we were seeking until introduced her father. A dynamic speaker, got people standing and cheering as the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, looking the very picture of power, strode forcefully to the podium. He had us on our feet for a while but as his speech wore on (I had heard most of it already on Like It Is), people reverted to laid-back mode, chilling in their lounge chairs or on the grass. As Minister Farrakhan spoke, people rose to their feet once again – this time to leave. By the time he had finished, my sister and I were the only ones left in the area where we had been sitting. Everyone else had packed up and gone, perhaps to buses that had a scheduled departure time.
Surveying the landscape with hundreds of people streaming out of the Mall, my sister and I talked about what else had gone missing throughout the day, other than the life-transforming energy with which we had expected to connect. The event was well- organized. You could hear and see the speakers almost anywhere on the Mall, however, I had come to be organized. To join the movement. To stand with my people. But there wasn’t any organizing going on. I had expected that we would be asked to sign up for something, that someone would collect our contact information with a promise to reach out to us. Instead, Minister Farrakhan told us that to join the Movement we had to go to the Movement’s Web site and register after paying a $25 registration fee and then he requested a donation. We were astonished. First of all, not everyone has access to the Internet. Further, anyone who has ever done sales knows that it’s up to you to close the deal, to ask for the signature to request a down payment on the spot, not some time in the future. The time to get people to sign up was now, we concluded, not when they had returned to their busy, complicated lives. And what was up with the $25 fee to register? Would people be willing to pay that? Did they have the means?
On the way out of the Mall, Cheryl and I ran into three people we had met on the way to the Movement and we asked them how they felt about the day. They, too, expressed surprise at the lack of energy, but at least one person disagreed about what Cheryl and I had felt was poor organizing. He thought that people needed to show their commitment to the Movement by going online. We shouldn’t expect to be spoon-fed, he said. It was up to us to take action. The group was skeptical about whether people would pay the registration fee. But at least one of us decided to take that step: me. I had come to the Movement to be re-energized to do the work that it will take to heal Africa-America and African people worldwide. But I had known all along that the success of the Millions More Movement depends on what I can bring to it, rather than on what it can give me. I’m in it for the long haul, because a long-term commitment on the part of all of us still standing is what it will take to restore, rebuild and repair our communities and ultimately the world.