The Spirit Lives!

ALTHOUGH THE FICKLENESS of our country's public attention-span might have tempted us to file away last October's Million Man March as a piece of semi-ancient history by now, it seems clear to me that such careless inattention would be a serious mistake. For there was a profoundly moving truth in the words of the local march participant who came home that night filled with the excitement of a transformative day and posted these words for his computer-network companions: "The Spirit Lives!"

While I was 2,000 miles away from the Mall in Denver, and had to wait until I arrived home that evening to watch the videotapes that my family had lovingly made for me, after hours of intense electronic participation I arrived at the same conclusion. What glued me to the screen almost until dawn was the sense that I was witnessing an overwhelming manifestation of a great hungering and thirsting for righteousness. These erect and thoughtful brothers (and the sisters who shared the day) were surely on pilgrimage, responding primarily not to Farrakhan and Chavis, or to any other of the platform party, but seeking to answer a relentless spiritual calling that was rising up from deep levels of their being, a calling that they often found hard to articulate in words.

But in a land where words are cheap commodities, the black pilgrims did not need ordinary language. Everywhere they gathered-in airports, train stations, churches, mosques, and bus depots-they communicated in benevolent glances, in smiles and tears, in handshakes and hugs, offering new examples to the many children they brought with them. And when they did use words they often chanted, sang, and prayed half-forgotten songs, petitions, and hopes.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 1996
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