Thousands of people stood in the rain across from Freedom Plaza during a justice rally for Trayvon Martin on Saturday March 24, 2012.
Martin was a 17 year old African American male who was murdered last month by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, in Sanford, Florida.
People of every color and age group stood on the steps of the John A. Wilson building with their hoods up and Skittles and iced tea firmly grasped in their hands— a symbol of the only items that Trayvon had the night he was murdered.
The demonstrators shouted chants such as “Skittles and iced tea are not suspicious to me,” and “Enough is enough” as they reflected on the death of Martin, who some considers a modern day Emmett Till.
The rally was organized by three women– Heather, Megan, and Maliaka, in only four days. Only two of the women knew each other but the activists were united on an online community. The rally was truly a grassroots effort as it was formed without an official organization or church and was promoted through social media.
Although the rally was organized in less than a week, the planners were able to gather a wide variety of speakers to share their word about the injustice in America. The President of the NAACP, spoken word performers, student leaders from Georgetown University, church ministers, community leaders, a member of the Florida House of Representatives, radio personalities, and DJ’s stood on the steps speaking up for all of the Trayvon Martin’s in our country.
Even civil rights activist and comedian Dick Gregory made a special appearance at the end of the rally to offer his support for the cause, stating, “This is bigger than what we think it is.” Gregory, who said that he never wore a hoodie until today, had a few comments about Geraldo Rivera, who recently stated on Fox News that Trayvon’s hoodie was as responsible for his death as Zimmerman. Gregory said, “This is the same thing they have been saying about women who get raped based on their clothes.”
The murder of Trayvon has sparked a national debate about race and injustice. Some speakers stated that there is no such thing as a post racial society, despite the election of President Obama. Many, including Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, the Executive Director of the National Council of Negro Women, are fully aware of racism. DeWeever stated, “I don’t care if he [Zimmerman] is a racists, I care that he is a murder.”
April 10th was declared National Hoodie Day, since it is the day when the grand jury will meet in Sanford, Florida. Speakers at the rally urged everyone to not only wear their hoodies on April 10th, but leading up to the day as well in honor of Trayvon Martin.
Safia Hurst, a sophomore who was in attendance, proudly stated that she will be wearing a hoodie on April 10th, “Wearing the hoodie will honor Trayvon’s death and make a statement about the injustice in America. . . His attire was not the cause of his death.”
Maliaka, one of the organizers of the rally offered advice for anyone who wants to make a difference in the community, stating, “Don’t think about it, just do it. Relay on support from community and friends… Realize that this is bigger than you.”
Sophomore Radiah Shabazz was pleased with the turnout of the rally. She stated, “The rally symbolizes the first steps to what I believe is the start of a revolution. I could feel the powerful energy throughout. Something good is going to come from this.”
To get more involved, go to http://www.change.org/petitions/prosecute-the-killer-of-our-son-17-year-old-trayvon-martin to sign the petition to get George Zimmerman prosecuted or follow @DCTrayvonRally for more updates on ways to make a change.