…is going to be an AMAZING day.

I’m watching the crowds at the Mall right now, going wild with excitement and chanting, “Yes, We Can!”  

The last time I saw this kind of crowd at the Mall it was under totally different circumstances.

I’ve mentioned that I was a House Page back in the day.  Well, “back in the day” means it was the class of 1995-1996, and I served for the entire school year (like almost every other page from the party I worked for.  Don’t ask which one that was.  I’ve had an epiphany since then).  

During that year, Louis Farrakhan decided that the black man needed to stand up and fight for his rights in what became known as the Million Man March.  The March was not without controversy.  I mean, it was Louis Farrakhan, leader of Nation of Islam.  And he only invited men.  Black men, in fact.  At the time, I frankly didn’t fully understand (nor will I EVER fully understand, but I can appreciate better now) the point of his gathering.  

Nevertheless, my fellow page friends and I wanted a piece of the action.  We wanted to know what it felt like to be in that crowd, at that time, with those speakers.  

So we went.  

It is difficult for me to remember all of my feelings from that time.  Fear, for sure.  I was a tiny white girl in a sea of very angry black men.  They were hanging from the trees (I believe to be able to see the speakers, but their vantage point high above me did not make me any more comfortable), and the speakers were yelling – angrily – into the microphone.  “Don’t they know that the microphones amplify their speech already?” – I thought.  I clung tightly to some other (scrawny) (white) male page, and we wandered through the crowd.

The gravity of the fact that I was one of a handful of white people on the Mall was not lost on me at the time, and it’s something I’ve considered in hindsight, too.  I will never understand what it is like to be a minority dealing with discrimination on a day-in, day-out basis:  every time I have been a minority, it is something I’ve chosen for myself.  I choose to visit foreign countries (and even then, I’m American, which creates some arbitrary status).  I choose to be in the middle of a crowd of black men.  

It doesn’t totally diminish the gravity of the experience, though.  So this is what it might be like, to be treated like an outsider.  All the time.

And there was an element of fascination, right?  Fascination because ohmygoodness, lookatallthepeople.  THEY ARE EVERYWHERE.  

It was a fascinating sociological experience.

And now – now we have many, many, many more people on the Mall.  And they are there for something oh so very, very, very different.

And they are men, women, and children from ALL walks of life.  

They are celebrating.  They are cheering.  

They are rejoicing.

Today – today is quite a tremendous day.  

How far we’ve come in 14 years.  

Oh, how far we’ve come.

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