I live in the middle of Harlem
. The Black Panthers
are just around the corner, the Marcus Garvey
Foundation is just down the block, Nation of Islam
’s headquarters are to the east and NAACP
has offices a few streets down. Harlem is not the hotbed
of social activism
it once was, but while standing in the Laundromat
I noticed a flyer tucked in the crack between the high capacity clothes dryers
. On the flyer was picture of a man with a hand plow
and a mule
. The man was in overalls and a straw hat
circa 1890, above him in big black letters it read “Millions
!” Washing DC August 17th, 2002.
That was it: just the picture and the slogan. Of course, the man in the field with his mule represented the 40 acres and a jackass that my granddad had always joked that we were owed. But honestly I was disappointed that there was no more information on the poster. It was very confusing. Seriously, I thought, they couldn’t really expect to get 40 acres out of uncle sam—there is not that much federal land left. Also, what do you do with mixed kids? Give them half a mule? Who are these people?
It was printed on thin poor-quality recycled paper. The ink seemed to be the kind used with hand crank copy drums. I envisioned a basement workroom that smelled like ink—there the would-be revolutionary cranked out flyers one by one. It was a mystery. So, I vowed to dig deeper.
After searching around the web for a bit I was able to find a bit more info. They seemed to be planning to run a bus from most major cities in the east to Washington that day. No single organization seemed to be behind the event—I wondered if anyone would show up with a mule—
I wondered who had started making the posters. How many people were behind this?
If it works I plan to use my mule to pull a buggy around Central Park. I’ll be like those carriage drivers with their horses, but I’ll be able to charge less since mules don’t eat as much as horses. I was thinking of getting a rickshaw, but a mule would be much more fun. Anyone who could prove that they were a direct descendent of John Brown or Nat Turner would get a free ride. . . .