In Trayvon’s name
Rally begins new dialogue on unity and justice
Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 2:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 2:59 p.m.
Several young people from the Gainesville community vowed not to let the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin become just another footnote in the history of high profile criminal cases involving black men who have died at the hands of white men.
The young people shared their thoughts with a small crowd Saturday evening gathered at Bartley Temple United Methodist Church for the "In the Name of Trayvon: A Call for Final Justice" rally organized by the Rev. Milford Griner, pastor of Pleasant Plain United Methodist Church in Jonesville and president and founder of the Rosa Parks Quiet Courage Committee.
"No matter what the outcome or the verdict is, we are here to call for calm, we are here to call for peace and justice for Trayvon Martin," said Griner.
Besides comments from the young people and others, the rally featured a panel that included Juliun Kinsey, chair of the education committee of the African American Accountability Alliance of Alachua County; Darry Lloyd, spokesman for the State Attorney's Office; Gigi Simmons, president of the Porters Community Neighborhood Association, and the Rev. Kevin Thorpe, pastor of Faith Baptist Church, who plans to run for the Alachua County Commission seat currently held by Susan Baird.
Just hours before Judge Debra Nelson read the jury verdict in a Sanford courtroom declaring George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter, Nailah Summers, president of The Dream Defenders' chapter at the University of Florida, stepped to the podium and said young black people are tired of being the Trayvon Martins of the world. The Dream Defenders, established after the death of Trayvon, is an organization of mostly college students who confront inequality with unity.
Summers said she first heard about the death of Trayvon while returning from a trip to the Mississippi Delta with a UF program that visited a museum exhibit about Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy who was kidnapped, beaten and shot in the head by two white men in Mississippi in 1955 for reportedly flirting with a white woman cashier at a grocery store. An all-white male jury acquitted the two men.
She said she was led to act after learning about the death of Trayvon, who was shot dead by Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford.
"I had to do something," said Summers, 25, adding that she joined 172 other young people who marched from Bethune Cookman University in Daytona for 40 miles to Sanford to lead a nonviolent protest in front of the Sanford Police Department. She said Zimmerman was arrested two days later.
Since then, she said members of Dream Defenders in the Gainesville area have been teaching black history two days a week at a Boys & Girls Club to kids ages 8 to 13. She said after showing a documentary about Till to the kids, the kids said, "Wow, this is just like what happened to Trayvon."
Brandon Johnson, a senior at Gainesville High School and a member of the Alachua County NAACP Youth Council, said he was appalled when someone asked on ask.com, a social media network, why nobody had killed Zimmerman. He said some people have come to the wrong conclusion that violence solves everything, even though "history shows us that violence" is not the answer.
"This is not just about Trayvon. This is not just about Gainesville or Sanford," he said. "This is a national issue, but it's going to start here. Everybody in this room, including me, it is time to start networking. It's going to start right here in this room."
The 4As Kinsey, 22, said he is waiting on churches in Gainesville to come together not only spiritually, but also for civic engagement to do their part with solving problems in the community.
"We are the problem, but we are also the solution," said Kinsey, adding that it is time for "black folk" to unite in order to protect and save future generations.