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November 18, 2005

Stand and Deliver

Derek Shackelford

About a month ago the Million More Movement was held in Washington, D.C. It came on the 10th Anniversary of the historic Million Man March.

I attended the Million Man March, but did not feel compelled to attend this event. That celebration in 1995 was very timely and necessary. Some people criticized it - not so much for its purpose - but more so because Minister Louis Farrakhan, of the Nation of Islam, organized it and issued the call to make our voices heard.

There has been much controversy surrounding the comments of Minister Farrakhan over the years in regards to Jewish people.

Why is it necessary to continually maligned him for these remarks? In American society we have forgiven those who have done far worse. I do not agree with everything that Minister Farrakhan says but he does say some things that warrant attention - especially when it comes to our society and governmental policies.

I attended the Million Man March to see if African-American men could come together in a spirit of unity. I can honestly state that this experience has had a lasting effect. I was not deterred that Minister Farrakhan sounded the call. If your house is on fire it does not matter who yells fire as long as someone notifies you.

The Million More Movement may have been necessary for those who attended; I just hope that it moves one to action and not just become a memory in the back on one's mind.

* * * * * * * * * *

This brings me to the life of Ms. Rosa Parks, which should be celebrated and honored. What needs to be understood is that Ms. Parks lived her life in relative obscurity; yet her passing captivated thousands of people. There is no doubt that what she did changed the course of our history.

But the greatest tribute that we could do in honoring Ms. Parks is not sitting down when in this day and age requires us to stand up. This great woman, who sat down so others could stand up, placed her freedom on the line for all to be treated alike.

Without the sacrifices of Ms. Parks, and thousands of others over the years since her defiant stand in Montgomery, Alabama, there would not be an Oprah Winfrey, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, 50 Cent, or the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

This nation owes Ms. Parks a great deal of gratitude for her courage and conviction. Our nation today could learn a valuable lesson from Ms. Parks, who chose right over might, brains over bombs, values over violence, and perseverance over power.

And those who attended the Million Man March or the Million More Movement could learn a lesson: marching is nice, but make sure your feet don't get tired of helping others. Now is definitely not the time to sit down.

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