Rally promises hope, help for community

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By Alice Du Pont

The 1000 Men Rally is planned for Friday night. Organizers say they expect more than 1,000 men to attend the rally that will include speakers, music and entertainment, and create a relaxing environment. They hope attendees will accept advice on everything from their health to how to treat their mates. It's a good concept and if it helps a even just handful of men there will hopefully be fewer issues.

More than 10 years ago, I attended the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. I rode the bus filled with men who had hope for promise. All the way there, they talked about what they expected. They wondered what they would come away with from  the sharing of ideas and noble concepts. The anticipation was thick on the bus for the 16-hour trip. One thing was clear: they all wanted to return to Gadsden and Leon counties better men than when they left.

I think they did.

On the ride home they were quieter. They were more introspective. The young men who played and cracked jokes on the way to the march talked in quiet tones to older men. "How did you do it?" and  "Was it hard?" were questions I heard them ask of the older men. The advice didn't come in sharp recriminations but in the soothing answers of a patient father.

The march changed the people who attended in subtle ways. Those who had been hardhearted on the way there appeared to stop looking for a place blame but instead looked for a way to move beyond those who threw stumbling blocks into their paths. Those people, they felt, would always be there or someplace hiding around a corner.

I see Friday night's rally as a smaller version of the Million Man March and significantly more inclusive.  This rally is calling men of all races, faiths and ages to join together for a few hours to recommit to a community of young children and women who need strong men.

Will the 1000 Men Rally change Gadsden or Leon counties? I doubt it. Will it change the minds of some men? I think so. Will it help? I believe it will.