A worthwhile journey

Ishpeming man travels to D.C. march

GIBBS

MARQUETTE — For Anthony Gibbs, his trip to Washington, D.C. over the weekend for the Poor People’s Campaign March was more about the journey to and from the event rather than the event itself.

The Ishpeming man traveled to the Poor People’s Campaign March — a “Global Day of Solidarity and Sending Forth Call to Action Mass Rally,” which took place Saturday.

The “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival” has reached out to communities in nearly 40 states over the past two years, with the purpose of battling poverty and inequality, systemic racism, ecological devastation and the war economy.

Goals of the campaign include a massive overhaul of U.S. voting rights laws and new programs to lift millions of Americans out of poverty.

According to a Saturday article in The Washington Post, one of the event’s organizers, the Rev. William Barber, told a crowd during a rally on the Mall: “Don’t get it twisted. We are not left, we are not right, we are not conservative or liberal.”

Gibbs probably would agree with that.

He used his car to make the trip, having decided he had enough money for gasoline to get to his destination and back. However, as he got to Milwaukee, the studs on his right front tire broke, causing the tire to fall off on the freeway.

Not the way you want to begin a long trip.

Fortunately, someone driving a flatbed State Farm wrecker truck drove up to him and offered him a free tow to a lot conveniently located by the bus station, although he later gave a donation for the effort.

“It could remain there for three days until I had to move it, which ironically was the same amount of time I’d be gone anyway on this trip, so I got free parking,” Gibbs said. “That’s what I’m saying. It was just that kind of synchronicity on this trip.”

He had to walk to a store to get the tire studs, and then walked past a taco truck and ordered some food. A man there asked him for a dollar to buy a taco, but Gibbs gave him $5 instead.

Gibbs thought, two tacos was better than one.

“I said to him, ‘Look, people have looked out for me for coming down here and what not, and I’m not going to stand by and watch you starve,'” Gibbs said. “That’s not going to happen, and the guy was super thankful.”

Gibbs eventually met up with other march-goers, using a rental vehicle to get to Washington, D.C., which was about a 14-hour trip.

The rally at the march, he said, had many speakers, including the actor Danny Glover, a rabbi and other people of different faiths.

“They represented it as a cross-section to show it’s not about Democrats or Republicans, or about white and black,” Gibbs said. “This is about people suffering.”

He has first-hand knowledge of that, having spent about three months in impoverished Flint, the site of contaminated drinking water.

“The notion of drinking a drop of water out of the Flint River is insane,” Gibbs said. “It smells like death, metal and fish.”

At the march, he saw people who felt the way he felt about the circumstances of the underprivileged, that some people were being ignored.

Gibbs said if he hadn’t taken the chance to make the trip, he wouldn’t have seen that.

On the Sunday after the march, he and his traveling companions found a place where tires were sold, which Gibbs said was in “the ‘hood.”

Unfortunately, a mechanic was needed to put on the studs. Gibbs said someone called “Hustle Man” steered him to someone who could help him.

None of the difficulties he experienced on the journey “broke” him because he knew everything was going to be OK, Gibbs said.

“I was so clear about everything, and I told people that when I ran across them in the street, that this is happening the way it’s supposed to be happen, and it’s hilarious,” he said.

Gibbs, who works at PSI in Marquette, managed to attend the march, get his car fixed and make it back to work Monday.

“What I really gained from the march is this: People are infinitely decent, and all this fear about inner city black people, all the rest of it, is straight up unfounded,” Gibbs said.

For the most part, people “bent over backwards” to help him in Milwaukee on a Sunday.

“They didn’t have to, but they did,” Gibbs said.

In essence, his journey was more important than the destination.

“It’s about finding the grail, getting to the grail, suffering for the grail,” Gibbs said.

He said tries to be civil and kind with people, even those with whom he disagrees, and he believes that’s why people in Milwaukee treated him well.

“Stand up for something,” Gibbs said. “Be kind to people. Treat people the way you want to be treated.”

He has another piece of advice: “If you’ve got an older car, especially a car that sat in the snow, check your tire studs.”

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.