(Left) "What am I thankful for? Hmmm that's a good question because I've started this list all month. Immediately the things that come to mind are (you know) family, my job, good friends, etc. But it's sometimes the little things that really resonate once you take a moment to really think about it. And sometimes it's just the opportunity to be the one crawling around the floor with my nieces and having them say 'you're a horsey Auntie Mae!'. It's little moments like that. Like those are the things I'm truly thankful for! Everybody says, family, health, prosperity, blah blah blah; but to me it's all about the those really small itty bitty things that matter most...
OH... and I'm thankful for this costume..."
I play roller derby... so I'm thankful for roller derby!! (laughs)
"What brought me here was...20 years ago...My mother wasn't into this type of stuff but my father was. My father was what you can call a 'mason muslim', my mother was a christian and my grandmama was a methodist. So my family was all mixed up when it came to religion. So over the years, I've just been doing a lot of seeking for myself to try and find out if we have one God and one devil, why we got a million ways to get to Him? So while seeking myself I discovered something called Islam, something called Yahweh and started connecting with the people who knew about that as well. So I was introduced with the opportunity to come out here because I'm tight with all the brothers out here in suits.
Outside of the march, I do a lot of activist work for the youth. Right now I'm teaching them about entrepreneurship. I just want to help them become more self sufficient so they can pass it on to generations to come..."
"Most of the time when people look at me, they think I'm evil, rude and bitchy and I don't really know why. But I'm honestly not as hard as (I guess) I give off to other people. I think that I do kind of hide that little part inside of me because I don't like being vulnerable."
"I have zero positive relationships to look at and I think that's why I'm single. My dad had been married for 25 years and now they're getting a divorce. Like I haven't witness lasting Love before. My grandmother and grandfather, as far as I can remember, stayed in two different rooms in the house. My mom and dad broke up when I was 2 years old. They both remarried somebody. She (mom) got divorced during my sophomore year in college. "
"I got a lot on my plate man. I go to school, I'm an entrepreneur, I work a 9 to 5, and I'm a father. I'm always moving man. You never know who you're going to run into so I try to stay as busy as possible. Right now it's hard for me to focus on one thing, so I try to do A, B and C at one time to figure out which one works best for me..."
"I've been a street artist since the early 90's. Back then it was more pure. The city wasn't painting over stuff so paint and graffiti was everywhere in that time. It's kind of like how the early 90's was to Hip Hop; the same went for street art as well. Everything today is like a shadow of what was happening in that era. That's why I loved growing up in that time period.
As a street artist, I wouldn't mind being famous while not losing sight of who I am. Like, I don't want to be a sell out or nothing. You know? But then again, I would rather my art be known more than anything. Of course, being paid for my work is always a good thing. Pretty much, if my art is well-known and I'm getting paid for it, I'd take that over fame any day."
Rich (Tattoo Artist)
Legit, like I feel like I've been so focused and driven on the s**t I do that I really haven't hit a point that set me back yet.
My end goal is to 'not have to'. Dead ass. To 'not have to'. I want to be at a point where I'm creating because I WANT to, not because I HAVE to. "
"You watch TV? They're degrading us. You listen to the radio? They're degrading us. Advertisements? It's degrading. They don't like to show us in our power.
Not only do I hope for, but I will work towards the uplifting of our black people. We have to get back to where we are supposed to be and in order to that we have to make some moves. And as far as in my world, I'm making moves..."
"I'm scared of failure. I was privileged to be raised in a good home and I'm scared to do anything less than great..."
Brianna and Mary Jane
Brianna- "I'm from New Jersey but I'm currently attending George Washington University getting my graduates degree. I'm here because I feel like I need to be here. It's a moment that will definitely go down in the history books. Along with everyone out here, I'm also here due the great of amount of police brutality and prejudices that's been going on as well.
I live in a white Jewish town, and notoriously every year the cops would shut down our birthday party while letting everyone else do whatever they want to. Like, literally. Everyone else could be having a fireworks party and the cops won't shut anything down.
I hope that when this is all said and done that there will be a decrease in the violence in D.C. because it's been a great amount of it lately..."
Mary Jane- "I'm simply here because black lives matter."
"I've been living in New York City for 2 years. I was raised in Bogota, Colombia. I moved out here (NYC) for freedom; Freedom to express myself and to be exactly who I am without being judged for it. New York is also a great place to follow the dream I've always had in being a tattoo artist. I've been obsessed with tattoos all my life.
Back home I always felt like I didn't belong there. Like, I never felt accepted by the people around me.
I'm really optimistic about finally being able to open up shop as a tattoo artist. I look forward to giving people wonderful pieces of art that they can wear for the rest of their lives. I love tattooing so much, one of my biggest fears would be if something bad were to happen to my hand. Like, not being able to draw scares me..."
"I'm tired of going back to jail man, so I'm just trying to do something different and positive...F**k jail"
"I'm a sophomore communications major at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. I'm here because of the recent events of young black males being shot in the streets. It's something that struck me personally because I've been in positions where I didn't feel comfortable around the police myself. So I'm here to show my support to the people who can't stand up for themselves or never had the chance to..."
"I've had this sign for 6 years now and I carry it around to let people know exactly what I know... Black is still beautiful..."
"I fear not realizing all my potential. Like that's seriously my biggest fear. Like the one thing that wakes me up and gets me off of my butt when I'm being lazy and not trying is me imagining laying on my deathbed asking myself, 'what if I would've have done this?'. That scares the heck out of me. It's definitely a fear of regret from not trying. Like right now at this very moment I don't have a fear because I'm actually living life. But years down the line, oh my God, I feel like I wouldn't be ready to die. So while I have this life and this ability to try, I have to get on it!"
"I'm coming from Silver Spring, MD. I wasn't really planning on attending the Million Man March for sure until a friend of mine came over to my house and told me a guy that he hangs out with had gotten murdered. This hurt me so bad. Like, this really affected me because it's happening all the time and it's happening by our own people and being handled by a f**ked up system. So I feel like it's best for all of us to attend these kind of meetings to hear the truth about our people because the system and the media aren't telling us the truth..."
Brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated
"What brought me to the march was the fact that issues we face as African American's were being brought to the surface to make change. The change in which will bring about laws and hold the justice system accountable for protecting our lives as equal citizens. I hope that we wake up as African American's and realize that the only way to change the world is to start by changing the way we think and act. Support black owned businesses, and stop killing each other"
- Micah Wells, Cleveland, OH
"I simply could not sit back and miss out on history. I've always been captivated by what my ancestors have done and been apart of. How on Earth could I be anywhere else on this planet other than Washington, D.C on 10/10/15? The vibrations sent out amongst that crowd cant be duplicated. The weekend mirrored a family reunion, it was a reunion amongst my line brothers and a reunion amongst a culture young/ old. The fact that absolute strangers were glad that I was there is enough reason right there. This is what brought me to D.C and is why I will cherish it forever! I hope that future generations will grasp their own understanding. Not just believer all that's heard across this crazy world. Do your research, love learning, and watch how your world illuminates. This was an illuminating event- the most of that category since I've been born into existence."
-Mark Peterson Jr., Milwaukee, WI
"What brought me to the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March is to be in solidarity with my people in the fight for justice and to pay homage to those we have lost in this battle. When the march was originated and organized by Minister Farrakhan in 95', I was 7 years old. I had no clue what it was about or why it even mattered, but I do remember hearing about it as a young child. Fast forward 20 years later... we are still faced with very similar issues and there was no way as a conscious black man, I could miss out on being apart of African-American history in the fight to create a better world for our young people. The brothers/sisters I was able to meet, time spent with my frat brothers/friends, and the experience as a whole was very fulfilling. I've never in my life been in a collective space of hundreds of thousands of African-American people- for one cause, one mission, one movement in peace! The experience was indescribable, and further confirmed the positive narrative I believe about our race. What I hope for future generations is that they don't fall victim to the propaganda the media perpetuates. They must understand that we have the power to write our own ticket. All the negative imagery of African American's isn't the dominant reality of who we are. We can't let them fall victim to that, and it's our job as black men and women to live lives that display the possibility of what they can be."
-Lance Woods, Detroit, MI
"It's crazy because I recently lost a baby but my mom just found out she's expecting again. I feel like that's God's way of saying I'm about to be a mother because my mom was never really a mother.
Me and my mother are finally getting real close but It wasn't always like that though. I use to despise my mother with a passion. My mother was physically there but was never really emotionally there. Like she didn't really raise me, you know? Like, how can you be there but let me get "assaulted". And my dad stays like 30-45 mins away calling and checking on me because he's getting bad feelings about my well-being. But she couldn't even tell when I was going through something when I was living with her.
But regardless of all the sh** I went through and going through right now, I'm still planning for a brighter future."- Ce'Mone
"Right now, I'm just networking with people and getting a better feel of Houston. As far as work, I'm doing designing such as logos, clothes, stuff like that. I've also done some modeling as well.
I'm originally from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I left and moved to Houston to pursue my dreams as a music artist. The idea of pursuing music came from people like my mother, Michael Jackson and Beyonce.
About two years ago, I had a friend that was telling me about the city and I'd been wanting to move out of Arkansas for a while now. So one day I just made up my mind, got up and moved. Now I'm ready to take care of business.
The most valuable lesson I've learned from all of this is to not be scared..."- Alton
"I'm just a homeless who just got off them drugs. Back in the day, I did it all. Cocaine, crack.. you name it.
I'm originally from Louisiana. My family was going to a family reunion. I had to work that day so I wasn't able to go with them. Anyway, it was 13 of them riding in a van. They ended up driving towards a bridge that I told them not to ride on because it was a very old bridge and I didn't trust it. They took the bridge anyway and it collapsed. Just like that, I lost my family. I can't tell you what happened years after that but I do know I ended up homeless eventually.
When you're homeless, you do what other homeless people do because the people who aren't homeless can't relate to you. So they don't want to have nothing to do with you. And all the homeless people did was drugs, so that's what I ended up doing." - Willie Green