- Faith & Family
—Photo by Show & Tel Photography
Emmett Till, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Sherdavia Jenkins and now, Trayvon Martin, are names with which most Blacks in America have become all-too familiar. They have become martyrs as their deaths have reminded us how tenuous life can be for Black men, women and children — and how racism is often the underlying cause.
And so it was last Wednesday that over 100 Blacks in Miami assembled at the small park in Liberty City that now bears the name of 9-year-old Jenkins — the young Black girl who was outside playing when two men began firing guns at each other and killed her in the crossfire. But this time, the gathering was not focused on Sherdavia but on Martin — the 17-year-old Black youth from Miami Gardens who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman one month ago while visiting Sanford, Florida.
After a rally and comments from many members of the community, supporters of Martin and his now-grieving family, marched down 62nd Street with posters, flags and raised fists. Many wore hoodies as was Martin when Zimmerman told police that he had spotted someone “suspicious” in his neighborhood. The hoodie has since become a symbol for many Blacks and representative of how one’s style of dress often leads them to become stereotyped by others.
“I met Trayvon twice; I remember him when I was performing spoken word at Carol City High School,” said Rebecca “Butterfly” Vaughns. “They say you can’t judge a book by its cover but in his case I think you could. Given his demeanor and his manners, I just knew that he was going places one day. This is just another example of an Emmett Till hate crime, 57 years later.”
State Representative Daphne Campbell hopes to use her influence to have the “Stand Your Ground” law repealed and says she believes Zimmerman should have been arrested long ago.
Former City Commissioner Richard Dunn II stood with protestors garbed in his hoodie. He says that the fight for justice for Trayvon Martin is just beginning.
“I have been in contact with the church in Sanford, First Shiloh, where many of us will travel later this week to support Trayvon’s parents,” he said. “One of the things the folks up there are saying is that they don’t want us to come for one day and then leave them to fight on their own. That would only open the door for business to go on as usual. We need to keep the fire on the officials in Sanford and that means national attention. I assured them that when we start something here in Miami, we finish it. And I’m wearing a hoodie because all of our kids wear them. They shouldn’t become targets because of it.”
The pain of losing a
child never goes away
David Jenkins, 39, the father of Sherdavia, said no one knows how it feels to lose a child to violence.
“I was talking to my wife on the phone when I heard the gunshots that ended my daughter’s life,” he said. “I hear them in my head over and over again. I know that Trayvon’s girlfriend was talking to him just before he was killed. Now she will have to deal with hearing those shots echo in her mind for the rest of her life. His family will always have the memory of their son — we have ours of Sherdavia. But the real tragedy is that we will never know what Sherdavia or Trayvon could have become.”
Trayvon’s uncle, Ronald Fulton, has been an active member of his community for many years. He is critical of how often the Black community tends to be reactive instead of proactive.
“This is a first step — we must see how the investigation will be handled,” he said. “We have to make sure situations like this can never happen again and use this as a learning tool. That means we have a lot of work to do.”
Keith Harrell, one of only five Black full-time sworn officers for the Village of Miami Shores [they have 33 in total], said coming to terms with this senseless death has been hard.
“I have two sons, 14 and 22,” he said. “We get calls about ‘suspicious’ characters all the time. But that doesn’t give anyone a license to kill. Blacks need to boycott Orlando and Disney and let them know we will no longer tolerate our kids being murdered by racists.”
“It’s a true miscarriage of justice — Zimmerman must be arrested,” said Joshua Jones. “And we must begin to come up with strategies and ideas so that laws are put in place that protect Blacks.”
The Haitian community will lead a march and rally in honor of Trayvon Martin on Wednesday, March 28th at 5 p.m. at the corner of the Northwest corner of 62nd Street and N. Miami Avenue. They will march to 54th Street and return to 62nd Street where many dignitaries will then speak.
By D. Kevin McNeir