Recently, Cleo Manago, founder of the Black Men’s Xchange (BMX) and AmASSI National Health & Cultural Centers, reflected about his experience at The Million Man March of 1995 and spoke to the Atlanta Journal Constitution about his experience. Taken from that article, below is Cleo's reflection:
I was a doctorial student at the time. When I heard about the Million Man March, I was very excited. I am a black-community-rights activist, so I have always been very keen about what people who are pro-black do for us, including Minister Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.
I was like, a million black men are going to come together in one place? That is unprecedented. Since we have been in this country, as former slaves, we had never come together on our own terms as black men. So I had to go. We needed to talk about things and tap into pains, frustrations and successes. Particularly pains and humiliations that we had not put our voice to. At one point during the march — and there was nobody on stage — we burst into tears. It was father, son, stranger, homosexual, heterosexual. Nobody cared. Brothers were snotting, crying and moaning on each other's shoulders. It made sense to me because we are walking around with a lot of stuff that we inherited from our ancestors that we had not talked about.
What is frustrating to me is that nobody acknowledged our tears from the stage. Very few people, who were organizing or leading the activities, acknowledged our tears. So we were not able to use that to organize black men toward going to another level of being so we could be more functional on a large scale. It was all in the abstract, it wasn't concretely articulated and used as a device to transform black men into being more functional, more thoughtful, more honest about what we are living with and dealing with as black men in this country.
The jails are still filling up. Some of the violence has come back. We have issues like HIV that are resolvable and preventable, but we are so distracted that we don't focus enough sometimes to synthesize our common sense with our behavior.
Read more about Cleo at PrideIndex.com