Million Man March commemoration on the Brooklyn Bridge

Nayaba Arinde | 10/15/2020, midnight
Walking daily with the actionable mantra ‘Building a Better Community One Block at a Time,’ Man Up! Inc. Founder/Executive Director ...
A.T. Mitchell (white shirt) with members of Man Up! Inc. Jamal Simon photo

Walking daily with the actionable mantra ‘Building a Better Community One Block at a Time,’ Man Up! Inc. Founder/Executive Director Andre T. Mitchell, decided that commemorating the 25th anniversary of the historic D.C. Million Man March has to be epic.

With fellow citywide activists mere weeks ago he launched “500 X 5”––A United Men of Color Initiative,” and engaged all five boroughs––Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island––“in a friendly competition to see who first could come up with 500 men to commit to help build their communities.”

On Oct. 16, 1995, the Nation of Islam’s head Min. Louis Farrakhan called on a reported million plus men to march on Washington, D.C., to heed the call to return to their neighborhoods and acknowledge, unify, organize and build.

Gathering at Cadman Plaza on the morning of Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, answering another call, hundreds of men are set to walk the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and rally close to the African Burial Ground at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan.

Mitchell, a nationally known Violence Interrupter and lead member of the Crisis Management System, reminisced, “This event marks 25 years since the historic Million Man March that I personally attended and it changed my life. It shaped my future, and is part of the reason why I started a non-profit organization Man Up! Inc. Our goal is to get men of the city to go back to our neighborhoods and be part of organizations making our neighborhoods safe for our women, children and elders.”

Mitchell has high hopes for what the event of “hundreds, if not thousands of Black men be a part of this momentous occasion and commit every day after to be a positive, strong and active part of their community.”

Co-organizer Gilly Delgado is the proud Bronx-born founder of PURE, “with the Spanish meaning of pure––absolutely 100%: Peace and Power - Universal Unity - Righteous Reality and Respect - Equality and Excellence.”

Delgado said his personal philosophy as he embarks on this event is “United we’re one, divided we’re none. We want the people who come on Friday to see that there’s a group of men who really care about their community. We hope that energy we release will emanate from us to them to see that men care about them and the community.”

Delgado said that he attended the Million Man March and, being a spiritual man who has studied many religions and belief systems, feels a calling to attend to his community.

In the last few weeks, “I have promoted the 500 X 5 initiative in the community, and on all my social media. Sometimes I see ‘they’re peeking, but they ain’t speaking.’ So, I know we might not see immediate change, but hopefully we will set the bar for the next generation that the Father Minister put out 25 years ago.”

Fruit of Islam captain Richard Muhammad is head of security at Harlem’s Mosque No. 7. He told the AmNews that the event has an organic, community-centered motivation.

“When George Floyd was killed the protests saw a global call for police reform, but meanwhile in New York City the murder rate was up 400%. In July one-year-old-Davel Gardener Jr. was killed at a family cook out––we looked at this and I spoke with A.T. Mitchell from Man Up, about this is a situation which is off limits––the babies are off limits…this started a series of conversations which led to the 500 X 5 challenge.”

Muhammad continued, “As we were building, we did Zoom calls about the Million Man March, and how similar the times are now like 1995 up to the 2000s. We saw the violence, and we remembered how it was when we got back into the community and the work we did. We want to bring back that energizing element to the men in the community.”

Muhammad took a breath and spoke on the recently late Student Minister Abdul Hafeez Muhammad. Farrakhan’s representative on the East Coast passed away on Saturday April 11, 2020, after being hospitalized with the coronavirus. At the height of the COVID-19 crisis, the loss reverberated nationwide.

“It would be wonderful to have Min. Hafeez be a part of this 25 year anniversary, especially as we are doing it locally. We are going do it in his name, in his spirit.”

Fruit of Islam Daleel Muhammad is the head of protocol in New York.

“So, 25 years later we are still striving to hold on to that unity that was defined at the Million Man March in 1995. The love is still there, but we have to unify now with a new generation who were born from 1995 to 2020. And those who were there 25 years ago, we want to strengthen our bond for the Brotherhood and for the security of our neighborhood to respect and protect our Black women, our children and our elders.”

“We will meet at Cadman Plaza, in Downtown Brooklyn from about 10 a.m. and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at 11.30 to the African Burial Ground area at Foley Square,” said Richard Muhammad.

For more information contact www.ManUpInc.Org, call 917-259-5300.