Reflections on the Million Woman March
Nkwanda Jah
January 1998

I am extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to attend the Million Woman March in Philadelphia. When I first heard about it in July, I knew that I would be going. I did not know how, but I just knew I would be there. I began to tell other sisters, the flame caught and in the end we chartered a bus and took 41 women from Gainesville.

The March was phenomenal. It was called by a couple of grassroots women with no money. The communication of the march was limited to the internet, which meant that the few women who had access to the internet took the responsibility of passing the information on to the sisters who did not. The word did get out, and more than one million people were there.

The day started before daylight and in the rain. That rain only served to wash in the spirit of the Million Woman March. The rain was followed by powerful speakers throughout the day. Two speakers who were the most powerful for more were U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California, and Winnie Mandela.

Waters is one of the most dynamic women committed to the cause of African Americans. She in not afraid to call the names of those forces that are contributing to the destruction of our communities. She has put her life on the line to uncover the wrongs that have been heaped upon our communities.

I have long been an admirer of Mandela. I can feel her spirit so strongly. I had the honor of meeting with her in Gainesville a few years ago. She is truly a mother to all African children. Her presence to me symbolized the commitment of Black women to standing up and taking action in their communities. That was what this March was about: Black women taking their rightful place in the front line for change.

Nkwanda Jah is executive director of the Cultural Arts Coalition.

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