- Faith & Family
Since the untimely, tragic death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin over a month ago, there has been a constant surge of support, protest and demands for justice. As more and more people of all creeds and colors join the movement and lend their voices to those of Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, rallies have been held in New York City,
London, England and all points in between. Most recently here in Florida, hundreds gathered in Sanford, the site of Martin’s murder, Little Haiti, Miramar and last Sunday, in downtown Miami in a filled-to-capacity Bayfront Park pavilion.
Many believe that the unarmed youth, shot by a marauding neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, was a victim of racial profiling. But the case also points to the loopholes and inherent vagueness that are part of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, along with City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, were two leaders among many that organized the Sunday rally and called on colleagues and community leaders for their participation. But it was the words of the grieving parents, who were joined by their older son and other family members, that spoke to the solemnity and significance of the event.
Words from a bereaved mother
“It means so much to us to see you — so many of you here,” she said. “People ask me how I can stand here so calmly while my son lies in his grave. I tell them that it is God. God gives me the strength to go on every day.”
Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon, echoed her remarks.
“We’ve gotten wonderful support from all across the U.S. but there is no place like home,” he said. “The hometown love is what we have needed and it’s your support that will help us continue in our quest for justice for our son. We won’t stop — I won’t stop.
Attorney Ben Crump, who leads a team of Black lawyers representing Trayvon’s parents, pointed out how that this is not an isolated case in America.
“Tracy is your son too and this case shows us that it could happen to any of us or our sons,” he said. “It’s been over 35 days and we are still waiting for simple justice. We must escalate the conversation in America. Blacks must be prepared to move beyond simply standing our ground to sharing the ground.”
Fulton added that while she never chose this ending for her son, she believes it will bring monumental change.
“I can’t help but believe that God has His hands in all of this,” she said. “For some reason that I have yet to understand, my son was chosen for this mission and gave his life so that others would not face the same kind of injustice and prejudice.”
Youth say it’s time for change in America
Miaya Blackman, 10, traveled with her mother to Sanford last weekend and was also at the rally in Miami. She said she wanted to do something for Trayvon.
“Racism is still a problem in our country — but it shouldn’t be,” she said. “What happened to Trayvon could happen to others like me. I want to help bring justice to our community.”
Members of the Carol City and Norland senior high schools marching band and auxiliaries numbered close to 100. They were vocal about why they were present.
“We have seen too many instances where Blacks did not receive justice at the hands of white racists but we are here to say we have had enough,” said Jaleel Johnson, 17.
“Justice must be served and we should have the right to wear a hoodie or whatever else we want,” said Koron Baker, 17.
National leaders promise to remain until shooter is arrested
Often times in cases like this, it is the backing of celebrities or nationally-known people of prominence that are able to bring about real change. And Sunday’s rally was no exception as many brought both their checkbooks and their voices to push for the arrest of George Zimmerman. Sports greats like Isaiah Thomas and Alonzo Mourning, who was joined by his wife, Tracy and their 16-year-old son, all repeated the phrase, “I am Trayvon Martin” — donning their own hoodies as a sign of solidarity.
Singer Chaka Khan said she is mobilizing other entertainers to give their assistance to the family of Trayvon Martin. She was joined by actress Jo Marie Payton and singer Betty Wright, both natives of Miami-Dade County.
“The message that we see is how fear can kill and how only love can heal,” Chaka Khan said.
County Commissioner Barbara Jordan spoke on behalf of her colleagues, Commissioners Audrey Edmonson and Jean Monestime.
“The actions that transpired in Sanford remind me of the way life was for Blacks in the 50s and 60s,” she said. “Why is it that a bag of Skittles and an iced tea was enough for one man to kill an innocent boy? We have to remain steadfast today — and we are pleading with the special prosecutor, Angela Corey, to get justice for Trayvon Martin.”
Black elected officials were out in force, some speaking on stage, others quietly raising their fists in support — the list is too long to include every name. But remarks from the Rev. Jamal Harrison Bryant, 40, pastor of Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore, and the Rev. Al Sharpton summed up the feelings of the many who attended.
“When the family is in trouble, schedules are canceled,” Sharpton said. “We are against all forms of justice — that’s why I was here before standing up against gang-bangers in Miami Gardens. Why hasn’t Zimmerman been arrested? Officials say they need more evidence. We say, go to the tape .”
“‘Stand Your Ground’ is a law that must be reviewed, revamped and possibly repealed because it is part of a crooked justice system,” Bryant said. “Florida may have let Casey Anthony go, but they better not let George Zimmerman walk free. There will be no rest without an arrest.”
By D. Kevin McNeir