(Winner 1998 New York Association of Black Journalists First Place in Personal Commentary)
The empty buses rolled into Brooklyn early Saturday morning. Across the rain-washed Manhattan Bridge, the Greyhounds came, their empty seats silhouetted against gas station neon, appearing as ghosts through fog-wet windows. The buses were coming to transport the keepers of the maternal instinct of the African People. The Mother Wit. The Women.
It was Saturday, October 25, 1997. And as if to demonstrate the power of the Sisterhood, two women, known only to family, friends and co-workers, gave life to an event which will stand as a milestone for Africans-in-the-Americas.
As they returned from the March, we saw that over a million women had flexed a spiritual muscle that did not involve the usual power players of big-time media, money, national fame or political clout. This March is another stunning achievement in the legacy that Black women have given America. Whether it was Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells, Mary McCloud Bethune or any of the unknown others, March conveners Phile Chionesu and Asia Coney, take their place in the long line of women who saw the need to save the children of our ancestors and acted. It was about women beating a spiritual drum that summoned over a million souls, and by its very existence, told them anything is possible.
This is the spirit that many bring back and put to work in their lives and in their homes. It is a nurturing process, and as the first life-givers, African women have had more practice than most. That shared consciousness of childbearing and nurturing in hard circumstances allows them to communicate and connect on a level that men have to work at to even approach. During the Million Man March, there was hugging and good feeling, and there is no denying that much personal and practical work was done. But from the women who loom large in my life, I have learned that they communicate differently and in more detail than men do. What many men are now learning to do, many women have mastered long ago. Now they are moving to some other level of spiritual connectivity that we will learn more of as we watch it take shape and crystallize into actions. And that is what makes this coming together of women so potentially powerful.
Women are convening the Mother Wit. They are focusing it on a series of goals. And we at OUR TIME PRESS are not going to miss the opportunity to record embryonic stages and chart the progress. It is necessary that this be done so that proper credit can be given. We have experienced the effects of the Million Man March on the men and on their communities in ways subtle and unknown. Businesses were born, attitudes were changed and lives were touched. This paper itself was helped by the energy after that March.
In urban centers across America, crime has been going down. We know intuitively that the work of the men returning from our March had a large role in that. But because there was little charting of the effects of the individual work that the returning men did: the tutoring, the mentor programs, the lives that they touched, the result of their efforts is a prize that others are claiming.
This will not happen with this Million Woman March. Partly because it follows the Million Man March and lessons have been learned, but mostly because it is women who did it. Over the next few months, there may be profound changes in our communities; and while others will be recording them, OUR TIME PRESS would like to record them also.
Now that the March is over, as plans are made and actions are taken, we will be continuing this mission. Readers may want to write us about what they have been doing and the results of those actions: whether it is nurturing businesses, or nurturing the diverse elements of the home and the village, write about it. OTP will be taking periodic looks at these efforts, and like a stop-action camera, trained on a flower in bloom, we will attempt to record a small part of the achievement.