The Million Man March Pledge Broken and Kept

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Annette John-Hall provides anecdotes about how the pledge taken on Oct. 16, 1995, has been kept and violated.

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The Million Man March on Oct. 16, 1995 (Getty)

In her Philadelphia Inquirer column, Annette John-Hall takes an anecdotal look at men who work hard every day, husbands who adore their wives, and fathers who raise their children as she reflects on the Million Man March, which celebrates an anniversary this month. She also castigates those who have fallen down on the job.

I've got to admit, when I met Ray Johnson and his two sons the other day, my first thought was, "Wow. So nice to see a strong black man with his children."

Whoa, hold up. Sometimes even I have to be mindful of beating back the prevailing notion of African American males as good-for-nothing deadbeat dads or ruthless thugs, because that's pretty much how they're portrayed, with few positive representations to balance it out.

Truth is, Johnson embodies most of the black men I know -- men who work hard every day, husbands who adore their wives, fathers who raise their children with equal amounts of discipline and love.

But let's be real -- there are far too many others who have fallen down on the job. Neglected to live up to the pledge that so many took on that October day in Washington 16 years ago.

I'm talking about the historic Million Man March. I covered the march, and it still gives me goose bumps to remember how resolutely sweet the huge throng of baritones sounded reverberating throughout the Mall that day:

"I will strive to love my brother as myself. ... I will strive to improve myself spiritually, morally, mentally, socially, politically, and economically for the benefit of myself, my family, and my people ... " 

Read Annette John-Hall's entire column at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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