dear editor

Call for “Justice or Else!” Resonates for Buffalo too!

Dear Editor,

Iwas disappointed by the lack of media coverage of the 20th anniversary of the Million Man   March as I returned to Buffalo from Washington D.C. this past Sunday. Even the Sunday talk shows all but ignored the historic gathering of our Black and brown family. I was also informed by many people that not even BET showed coverage of the great day. What a slap in the face!                           

All the newspapers and online articles I later queried started with a similar sentence; “thousands attend Million Man March,” which reminded me how the numbers were under-reported 20 years ago! As a Specialist in the U.S. Army stationed at Ft. Eustis, VA 20 years ago, I recalled the intentional drumming down of the numbers in attendance that day and as an eye witness I can say the turnout on 10-10-15 was about the same as the first Million Man March. I remember the bean counters falling all over themselves to stress we did not reach a million attendees before the numbers were adjusted to just over one million people days later! The same shenanigans this time around as we again surpassed a million Black and Brown people who came from all over the country to again unify in our continued fight for equal justice. The “whole” family was in attendance this time! Our brothers and sisters, Native Americans, Mexicans, Palestinians and Africans, brought their entire families and it was special to see so many young children who probably experienced our brotherhood en masse for the first time. The love and energy flowing throughout the crowd in unison seemed to inspire even the pigeons that continuously flew overhead in a unity of their own as the Sun came out and shined brilliantly as the speakers began to take the stage. The unified message from the speakers was that we must build ourselves up and take control of our communities and the trillions of dollars we spend each year. The invoking of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last speech and organizing goals to control our wealth was a breath of fresh air to a great people in need of oxygen. 

The time is now for us to take up the mantle and prepare the children for a better future that we control and design for ourselves. As I mentioned, the news practically ignored the march on a weekend when a Texas Councilman was tased by police officers, when Tamir Rice’s shooting by Cleveland police officers was called “justified”, and here in Buffalo we a big turnout to rally in support of minority hiring goals on construction projects. Not to mention that the state of Alabama is closing the DMV’s serving 75% of the Black and Brown citizens who are required to have a state ID just to be eligible to vote! 

The very reasons we gathered in Washington in the first place made the news every hour but our unified response in coming together to end those injustices did not? This movement is not going away no matter what “they” attempt to do to quell it. The “Black Lives Matter” organizers are still shining the spotlight on the message and showing the attitude that we ain’t going nowhere until we are treated equally and if we can’t get the equality we deserve as human beings then we must respond by pulling our support of any and all institutions that continue to ignore us or infringe on our God given rights! We need everyone to BOYCOTT Christmas, stand up to those failing our children in schools, demand sensible gun laws and demand equal opportunities for employment on every job that comes to any city that we live and work in. 

Let’s not forget that L.P. Ciminelli, the lead contractor for the Solar City project, also was the lead contractor on the Joint Schools Construction Project over the last decade and the minority and women hiring goals that were contracted were not met on that project either. Thanks to those who are holding them accountable to the contracted goal of 25% because we need to speak up or continue to be left out. Central Park Plaza is another project L.P. Ciminelli will lead and the people living in and around Central Park should employ and be employed to complete the job or we find another contractor.  They will continue to ignore us if we let them as they are now with the Solar City project because we didn’t stand up during the school construction project. As the late great Marcus Garvey would say, “Up, Up You Mighty Race! You Can Accomplish What You Will!”

Ronald R. Draffin