“50 years ago, Emmitt Till was lynched!” yelled a short, dark haired woman as the sun began to set last night in the middle of New York City’s Union Square. “Today it’s Trayvon Martin. Nothing much has changed. This sh*t has to stop. This generation has to put an end to this slow genocide. We say ‘no more!’”
About 300 people wearing black hoodies joined Trayvon Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Terry Martin last night to reflect on the one year anniversary of Trayvon’s death. Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and actor Jamie Foxx were also in attendance.
The day had been very emotional for Trayvon’s parents and “very painful,” according to their lawyer Benjamin Crump who was at the vigil. “Terry and Sybrina feel terrible that Trayvon isn’t here,” Crump told EBONY. “He was supposed to graduate high school this year.”
One year ago yesterday, self-appointed neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman followed Martin for looking what he called “suspicious” and the two got into some sort of exchange in the gated Florida community, with the man eventually shooting the unarmed teen to death. Civil rights leaders maintain that if Martin had been White, Zimmerman would have been charged immediately. But he was arrested weeks later when a special prosecutor took over the case; second-degree murder charges were filed two months later. Zimmerman is claiming self-defense and the trial is set for June.
“It seems like yesterday when Trayvon was here,” Terry Martin, Trayvon’s father said. “A year has passed but the wounds have not healed.” Those assembled had huddled together around Trayvon’s parents in the cold holding candles waiting to be lit at 7:17pm, the exact moment the coroner says Trayvon died.
“I’m the mother of two boys, one on earth and another in heaven” said Fulton. “And I’m going to continue to fight for my boys as well as your boys and girls,” she told those crowded around her. “Trayvon is in heaven. This we know. He’s resting. He’s in God’s hands,” she said, the pain evident in her voice, a black hoodie swaddling her face.
“This is a personal thing with me,” Jaime Foxx announced after moving to the center of the circle. “Sabrina, I met her at the NAACP Image Awards and we had a moment together. She said ‘my baby’s gone’. And I started to think about what it would be like if my 19-year-old daughter wasn’t there with me. So I made a commitment that night, with the help of Harry Belafonte who spoke so eloquently that night, about how we celebrities have so much influence and we don’t do anything with it.” Foxx has been one of the family’s biggest supporters and advocates, and joined Trayvon’s parents earlier this month in Miami for a Remembrance Day Peace Walk.
“So this is a personal thing with me,” Foxx continued before singing a verse of “No Weapon Formed Against You Shall Prosper.” He added” If we start thinking about our children then you start to think differently. Think about a 17-year-old child and don’t think about the color of his skin. And keep this family in your prayers,” Foxx added, “because they’re grieving in public. We love you. We’re not ever going to leave you.”
Makkada B. Selah is a journalist based in New York City.