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Black Excellence On Display: The Million Man March of SC

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

Marchers raise black power fist as they march through the streets of Columbia during the Million Man March of SC.

The date is Sunday June 14, 2020 but I felt like it could have been August 28, 1963. The atmosphere is charged with an overwhelmingly positive and powerful energy. The scent of sweet perfumes and colognes permeate the air. Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech plays over the speakers. When I look around I see thousands of men, women and children who look like me in every direction dressed to their nines. This is not a sight that has been common for me in my life outside of church and entertainment venues. The organizers are black, the volunteers are black, a lot of the law enforcement members providing security are black and I'm not the only black photographer in attendance trying to tell the story. I am emotional but I am at peace. The Million Man March of SC, which was spearheaded by Rise of a Nation organizer Leo Jones, was created around the idea of displaying black excellence and demanding positive change and social justice for African Americans. It paid homage to the Million Man March of 1995 which was organized by Louis Farrakhan and held in Washington D.C. The march which was 1.4 miles in its entirety started at Columbia's Martin Luther King Jr. Park (2300 Greene St.) and ended at the South Carolina State House. It was truly a beautiful event. When it comes to photojournalism I normally keep to the basics and keep my editing very light. For this event, I felt like monochrome images would better portray the scene and give a feeling that that one could contrast with the civil rights marches and movements of the 60s. One thing is very clear, we have come a long way but we still have a long way to go. (All)Black Lives Matter. Photos: Before The March

Thousands line up in preparation to march in the Million Man March of SC.
White allies on their porch stand in solidarity with the march and Black Lives Matter movements.
Officer J. Cooper stands guard with a shirt supporting George Floyd draped over his shoulder as he waits for the Million Man March of SC to begin.
A man smudges the march area with Sage before the beginning of the Million Man March of SC
Columbia Mayor Stephen K. Bejnamin prepares to march in the Million Man March of SC.
March organizers and volunteers make final preparations before the beginning of the Million Man March of SC.

The March

Black AF. Powerful AF. Black Lives Matter.

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Claudia Smith Brinson
Claudia Smith Brinson
Jul 14, 2020

Hello, I am very impressed with your shots of the Million Man March and read of your admiration for Cecil Williams, who is a dear friend. What a great decision to print in black and white!

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