This weekend marks the 20th Anniversary of The Million Man March. Twenty years ago in Washington D.C. hundreds of thousands of men, and women, gathered at the National Mall in the District of Columbia to recognize economic and social issues that plague our community. The march, called by Minister Louis Farrakhan was supported by the NAACP and other grass roots organizations and agencies. The National Park Service misreported the number of attendees at 400,000 when the number was much closer to 1,000,000. With the help of Black radio the word got out about the importance of this event triggering a type of mass awakening. People came in droves via plane, train, automobile, and bus. Churches, families, friends, fraternities, and sororities all came to support those who need it, the Black man.
It was Black owned who helped to get the word out about The March. This was during the time when a Dee Jay could play any record he wanted; before there was a playlist and before there was a monopoly on the broadcasting industry. When there was a “countdown” or a “request” for a particular song that song actually got played! You didn’t hear the same song on three stations simultaneously. You never had the same artist playing five times within a thirty minute time frame. There was diversity in Hip Hop/Rap and R&B only crossed genres via feature or Teddy Riley. Black radio was Black owned and singers could sing and Rappers could spit. I’ve mentioned the Telecommunications Act of 1996 in another blog, Hip Hop’s Purpose in 2015, as it was implemented after The Million Man March. To make it easier go back to the most recent episode of Empire, where Luscious bought the radio station preventing Lyon Dynasty from playing any of their music. Think of Luscious as the government or Clear Channel in this case and Lyon Dynasty as a Dead Prez, Talib Kweli, Immortal Technique, or a Brother Ali. They all spit the messages that our people need to hear in order to stay focused on the movement and overcoming social injustice and economic hardship.
Clear Channel who is now iHeartMedia bought almost every single radio station in North American, and abroad, so that they could control what type of music we listen to. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 signed by Bill Clinton allowed that to happen and now Hilary Clinton thinks she has our vote in her pocket! You may have streaming services but who owns the streaming services? You have the iHeartRadio app, to hear the same songs every hour on the hour? This year Farrakhan has reached out to the Hip Hop community and Rap industry for their presence at this monumental celebration. I just hope that the mainstream artists will attend and participate. Marching during the day and partying at Stadium sends mixed signals. I hope they go to D.C. to work for us instead of working for self. If Rappers are too busy for an event like this than they probably aren’t rapping about anything worth listening too. Yes, they are busy and have contracts to abide by but this type of event is something that they need to make time for.
I don’t want to hear any reports afterward about how Jay Z donated the money for some t-shirts. I want to see boots on the ground! If you can riot in Ferguson you can march in D.C. If you can complain on Facebook you can march in D.C. If you are tired of hashtag awareness efforts you can march in D.C. If you can blog about it you can march in D.C. If you can blow money at the strip club you can march in D.C. If you can breathe and/or walk you can march in D.C. Peace. #JusticeOrElse #HipHopCares