NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Friday marks the 25th anniversary of the Million Man March, a rally in Washington comprised of Black men and women who joined together in pain while showing strength in their unity.

CBS2’s Kevin Rincon was with a group commemorating the march.

They marched in the rain across the Brooklyn Bridge reflecting on the Million Man March in Washington D.C. 25 years ago. On that cold October day crowds packed the National Mall, overflowing past the reflecting pool.

Among the many who helped organize that rally in 1995 is Shango Blake.

PROTESTS AND POLICE REFORMS

“We were going from city to city, from town to town meeting with groups and organizations and we saw the spirit and the energy. It was relevant then and it’s relevant now,” Blake said.

The march itself was led by Louis Farrakhan, who is himself a very controversial figure, but the message he shared that day, still resonates.

“Black men you don’t have to bash white people. All we gotta do is go back home and turn our communities into productive places,” he said in 1995.

And Blake says that’s exactly what many have been doing since the march.

“We’ve been working for 25 years putting on college tours, youth day programs, initiatives in the community, programs centered on economic development, we’ve been out here working,” Blake said.

The crowd Friday represented generations of Black men.

“They all have a history of their own in our community, coming up going through stuff but now we made a commitment of atonement to make sure we rise up and raise up our community,” said Vincent Riggins of the Brite Leadership Coalition. “We represent the solution…
all we have to do is get an invitation and be invited at the table.”

And the issues, despite the change we have seen, despite the many voices who’ve come together to advocate for reform – the issues are still the same.

“It’s been oppression. It’s been racism. It’s been discrimination, and when you do that to anybody, when you create poverty, there’s going to be crime,” said Andre T. Mitchell, founder of Man Up, Inc.

The message 25 years ago, and the message up until now remains the same. It’s one of encouragement of empowerment as Black leaders say they have all the tools available to make change – it’s a matter of doing it.

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