Trayvon Martin Supporters March in 100 Cities
Barrington M. Salmon | 7/24/2013, noon
Denise Young started her Saturday volunteering at Kingman Island, near RFK Stadium, before joining her three children at Constitution Avenue and 5th Street, NW, for a justice rally for Trayvon Martin.
Young, 45, of Silver Spring, Md., was one of hundreds in the District, and tens of thousands nationwide, who attended rallies in 100 cities. Trayvon, an unarmed 17-year-old, was shot by George Zimmerman who deemed him suspicious and followed him on the night of Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman confronted the youth, and during an altercation told police that fearing for his life, he shot him.
A jury of five white women and one Hispanic woman found 29-year-old Zimmerman not guilty on July 13 of second-degree murder. That prompted not just anger and disbelief but a string of protests across the country; a burgeoning economic boycott of Florida – which some now call the “Gunshine State”; and sometimes rancorous discussions about race, profiling, gun laws and vigilantism.
For African Americans, the verdict has left people afraid for their children and for young men who they fear will now be in the crosshairs of anyone afraid of what young black men represent.
“It’s a guarantee that when we do not take action and address race head on, these things will continue to happen,” said Young, whose children carried signs. “Three of mine marched 10 miles from Addison Road to come here. Young people take this seriously and they understand the importance of the decision. They understand the value and importance of Trayvon’s life. Trayvon is our child. That’s what we have to understand when we talk about issues of protecting young people.”
In the District, most of the several hundred protestors assembled at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, while others were at Freedom Plaza and the Department of Justice, all in Northwest. Among the speakers: The Rev. Ronald E. Braxton, senior pastor of Metropolitan AME Church; talk show host Joe Madison; E. Faye Williams, national chair of the National Congress of Black Women; and longtime activist and comedian Dick Gregory.
Braxton stirred the crowd with an inspiring and rousing message.
“ … Watch God move. I want to say to America, be careful because God’s gonna move,” he said citing example of the Jews fleeing Pharoah. “They marched, they got to the river and they couldn’t go any further. And the people pressed Moses. ‘What shall we do? We would be better off in Egypt, as slaves.’ I’ll never go back. I’ll never go back!”
“To hardcore racists, tell the people, stand your ground! And see the miracle evolve. We’ve come here today, to stand our ground. Stand our ground for these black boys. And black girls. We’ve got to stand our ground. Against the Congress that would turn back the tide. Against the Supreme Court that would turn us back … We’ve come to stand our ground. This is my country. We will never go back, we’ll never go back!”
For Jill Brooks, a registered nurse from Randallstown, Md., the outpouring of disaffection and demands by people across a wide social and ethnic spectrum is timely.