Andrews University Students Participate in Thousand Man March


(Spectrumbot) #1

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, many students and staff from Andrews University joined together in Benton Harbor, Michigan for the Thousand Man March. The purpose of the March was to address issues of poverty, mass incarceration, fatherless homes, limited educational opportunities, and racial profiling in the Benton Harbor community, and to unite this community with Andrews University to affect change on these issues. Pastor Taurus Montgomery of Harbor of Hope Church in Benton Harbor organized the event. Though Benton Harbor is the official site for the corporate headquarters of Whirlpool Corporation, it is also a depressed city with a large concentration of impoverished African Americans, sharply contrasting with a large concentration of more affluent Caucasian citizens just across the river in Saint Joseph, Michigan. Despite its small size, Benton Harbor has one of the highest crime rates in America. As a diverse campus of higher education only 13 miles away, Andrews University has the opportunity to reach out to the city and support its community.

The Thousand Man March had a profound effect on the students who participated. Below, two students share their stories of marching on January 19, 2015.

Givan Hinds

It was a beautiful day for a march. Wall-to-wall sunshine accompanied us on the 13 mile bus journey to Benton Harbor's City Center Park. I had high expectations for the attendance, and I hoped for a sense of togetherness between Andrews students and Benton Harbor community members. Less than two months earlier, Andrews University's first official protest, The Injustice March, came out of a collective reaction to the results of the grand jury's decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The campus Chaplains hosted a forum where students discussed the incident and what we as a community hoped to accomplish to create safer and more stable environments for youth like Michael Brown and ourselves. Students mobilized to reach out to the Berrien County Police Department, and prayed for officers around the nation. We went home with plans to peacefully boycott Black Friday (November 27, 2014) in order to raise awareness for the cause. Students returned from the Thanksgiving Break with resolve to finish the work they started. I hoped the Thousand Man March would cause a similar ripple effect.

I marched because I wanted to offer my support, skills, creativity, and passion to the cause. I want to be a foot soldier, just like the people who did the grassroots work for Dr. King's initiatives, briefing the press, making signs and sandwiches, and organizing meetings. Movements for change are nothing without people coming together to identify and solve problems. Participating in a March brings similar-minded people into contact in order to do something constructive for a cause. It turned out to be a wonderful opportunity to make connections and offer my resources. I was able to meet Benton Harbor city Commissioner Mary Alice Adams. We discussed tensions she sees between the youth of Benton Harbor and the youth of Andrews University. I also met an educator from Benton Harbor who recently moved back to give back. We decided that the best way to fight for the cause was first through prayer. We commenced the one-mile march, marching first to the Berrien County Jail to pray for the inmates and law enforcers, and then to the courthouse to hear an address of encouragement from Pastor Montgomery.

I believe the March was successful. We made an initial headcount of 168 and officially projected 200 attendees in all. A thousand men did not march, and the buses that transported Andrews University students were not full. Yet, if the purpose was to bring communities together to pray for and do something about our common cause, then we achieved our goal with flying colors. After the March, students, faculty and staff, and leaders from Benton Harbor met with Pastor Montgomery to debrief and plan more interaction between Andrews and Benton Harbor, including getting support and volunteers for several initiatives. These include a group called Greater Young Men, the purpose of which is to inspire, inform, and ignite. Male mentors from the group will meet weekly with students from the Benton Harbor High School. Pastor Montgomery also plans to start taking a team of volunteers into the community every Sabbath and to host a prayer rally on February 21, 2015. Plans also include another march, a Greater Young Men conference, and a group for young women called PEARLS.

Protests are not futile since there is always more work to do than walking a mile to the county jail or even (dare I say) watching director Ava DuVernay's critically-acclaimed Selma, the biopic of Dr. King’s life. Those touched by the issues that the Thousand Man March addressed are to be encouraged to do their part as foot soldiers. The world needs people of all races, persuasions, and creeds to come together, uplift each other, and assure justice and fair treatment for all.

Jonathan Doram

I was not going to march. A boatload of assignments, work, practice, and various rehearsals threatened to drown me. I wondered how my presence would be of any significance. How can this one event solve all of the atrocities and injustices happening every day due to racial prejudices? All morning I wrestled with hesitation and indecision. However, one persistent quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. kept resonating within me: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Civil rights activists like Dr. King, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou and many others experienced moments of doubt, fatigue, and despair. Nonetheless, they continue to serve as inspirations today not because they resolved all of the world’s major issues, but because they decided to use their voices and their influence to fight for freedom and justice. Out of respect for their legacies, I and many others made the decision to march.

I marched side-by-side with Andrews University students, faculty and staff, as well as many people from the community we wanted to help. There were people of all backgrounds, races, and walks of life. As we marched, we sang hymns and chanted statements like, “Education is the key that will set our people free” and “Seek justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly before the Lord.” The act of marching evokes feelings of solidarity and unity you experience with everyone present. It is the realization that we are much stronger united than we are separate, and if all these people are passionate about justice, then just maybe we can change the world. And if not the world, at least Benton Harbor. And if not Benton Harbor, at least one boy or girl present that day will know hundreds of people marched to ensure they would have a brighter tomorrow. Maybe one person incarcerated in the county jail will know they have not been forgotten because the prayers of hundreds were sent to lift him/her up.

Marching is just one way to promote justice. The very same day, my cousin involved herself by making racially equitable curriculum for an educational setting. A close friend of mine spent her time on campus discussing her unique experience of being a mixed-race female. We may not all be able to march, but each one of us can make a difference in our own respective spheres of influence. Each of us has a unique voice and experience that can help another person realize a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.

Photo Credit: Joshua Myers

Givan Hinds is a Senior studying History at Andrews University. She enjoys ministry through music, writing, and health education. She is passionate about helping to create stable environments for the underprivileged.

Jonathan Doram is a current student at Andrews University with a major in Music Education and minor in History. He has a passion for human rights, laughter, and Taco Bell. In the future, he hopes to work with kids in inner-city environments.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6586

(le vieux) #2

Embarrassing. What about actually doing something useful and concrete, instead of marching? People go away feeling good, life they’ve accomplished something, but how many of them actually do something personally to address whatever issue prompted the march?

I remember when I was in college someone organized a “stop-smoking” march. I can’t remember how far we walked, but it accomplished nothing, except maybe to create a few traffic problems for those passing through. I’m not sure anyone other than passing motorists even noticed. This was back when “everyone” marched. It was the 60’s (or early 70’s). I think someone just wanted to get on the “protest march” bandwagon.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #3

once upon a time., the twin cities were thriving. It was a destination of. Cruise ships out of Chicago, The House of David had a ball team and a night club, There was a ship building effort during WW II, There was an inter urban between South Bend through the campus of old EMC. it was a major wholesale market for farmers, It has an active amusement park. sabbath was a great day for the Jail Band. What a way to get off campus with your girl friend. yes there were even river boats from Berrien to St Joe. Tom Z


(Thomas J Zwemer) #4

I remember when Dr. Landeen was President at La Sierra, students came to him and told him they plan to organize a march against cafeteria food. dr. Landeen said, swell, can I join and carry a banner, I’ve never been in a demonstration. there was no march… but there was a vast improvement in the cafeteria. Tom Z


(Kim Green) #5

Good for you, students…thanks for caring enough to become part of the community and showing that students at your school give a darn!


(Kim Green) #6

What really is embarrassing is statements like this…full of positivity as usual, eh, Birder?


(Richard Ludders) #7

I remember Dr. Landeen well. I took Reformation and Counter Reformation from him at La Sierra. He was quite a scholar and told many stories about his involvement in WW2 in securing valuable paintings by the masters. I remember my first day in class with him in Reformation when he wrote my last name on the board which concerned me. Only to learn that Luther’s last name was not originally Luther but Ludders, but changed it from Ludders to Luther.


(Tihomir Odorcic) #8

Such remarks are the sign of getting old, very old. Cynicism and criticism are very characteristic for it. Feeling embarrassed because of things you have done in your youth is also the sign of definite farewell to any try of doing something new and fresh. But don’t be ashamed, the author of Ecclesiastes was in a similar mood when he described everything under the sun as vanity. Dear friend it is time for you to find something or someone which could get you optimistic and happy. I know this feelings 'cause me neither is young and fresh :smiley:


(Steve Mga) #9

Is the Thousand Man March similar to the First Lady’s hash marks [#] to return the kidnapped girls in Africa?
The hash marks [#] didnt work either.


(Phillip Brantley) #10

I am very proud of the heightened social consciousness that has been cultivated at Andrews University. Many of these students who marched will accomplish great things in the future.


(George Tichy) #11

Right on the money, Pici @blc is actually a very old guy… He is only a month younger than I, but after reading your comment now I feel way younger than him. Way younger!!! :slight_smile:


(Steve Mga) #12

In Protesting against “Social Injustice”, one has to perform two [2] events.

  1. Million Man or the Thousand Man March is only the First [1st] Step. Develop the Awareness in the Community.

  2. James 2:14-18 says Marching [bringing Awareness] HAS to be followed up with ACTION.
    We cant just TELL a naked person to be clothed and stay warm.
    We cant just TELL a hungry person to have a warm meal and feed the hunger needs.

I think this is the injustice we do to young people when we ask them to “march”. We do not teach them that if we are going to march, the young people have to also be led to Action, to Work, to perform an activity, to be involved in a program that would address the issue.
The Action needs to be discussed and promoted PRIOR to Marching, prior to the awareness activities.


(Dee Roberts) #13

Steve, I have a pretty good vantage point on this one in particular, and I am quite certain that there is more substance than just this march…


(Elmer Cupino) #14

Have you considered a genealogy study? You could be a descendant of Martin (Ludders) Luther. Cool!


(George Tichy) #15

Check your genealogy. We may be cousins!!!

If you have any Adam, or Eve in your ancestry tree, there is a high possibility! :slight_smile:


(Elmer Cupino) #16

"Such remarks are the sign of getting old, very old. Cynicism and criticism are very characteristic for it."

And Prozac won’t help?


(Elmer Cupino) #17

If that were the case, there’s reason to rejoice. We’re all cousins with @blc @pagophilus and many others. There is no need to have others “walk out of the church” simply because of differing interpretations. We’re all related!


(George Tichy) #18

I just fired both, Adam and Eve as my distant progenitors… No way Jose…!!!


(Peter) #19

Old is a state of mind. You can be 40 and think old. It seems like “good” Adventists like Pici often believe that one must think old to be truly righteous and headed for perfection.


(Elmer Cupino) #20

You got to give it to the US. We have all the freedoms including the freedom to allow who can get under our skin, who can push our buttons, the freedom to pick our own gods (in spite of being a reflection of ourselves), and even the right to choose our parents! Even Brazil can’t come close.