By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
LOS ANGELES (FinalCall.com) – Trayvon Martin’s mother, father, their attorneys, celebrities, community leaders, and youth marked the one-year anniversary of the verdict freeing their son’s killer with a Peace Walk and Peace Talk at Crenshaw High School.
They strategized about ways to stop violence against Black youth and to raise awareness about Trayvon Martin Foundation efforts to help mothers and fathers cope with the murders of their children.
“Across the United States, we still have some of the same issues,” Ms. Fulton said to a standing ovation as she and Mr. Martin entered the school gymnasium.
“That’s why it’s important for us to come and stand with you … so we could start a dialogue about how we resolve some of these issues, because I don’t know about you all, but we are tired of burying our children,” she said. “How are we going to have productive men and women growing up if they’re killing them when they’re 13, 15, 17, 21-years-old?”
The two activists and the foundation are based in Florida. Their trip to Los Angeles was one of many on a non-stop tour across the country. It was July 13, 2013, when a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty after fatally shooting their son February 26, 2012. The parents have worked through the foundation created in Trayvon’s memory to bring awareness to Stand Your Ground laws, racial profiling and conflict resolution, Ms. Fulton told reporters in a brief statement before she and Mr. Martin led some 200 people through streets around the school.
“We don’t want to be known as the foundation that’s just there. We want to get out and intertwine with the community … I don’t think Trayvon would approve of us just having a foundation and not being ground soldiers. This is what we call ground soldiering, getting into the community, touching hands,” Mr. Martin said.
The duo is registering voters, raising awareness about the importance of jury duty, and reaching out to families suffering similar tragedies. Mr. Martin and Ms. Fulton will also be speaking before the United Nations on human rights, according to Ms. Fulton.
“You guys have been there for us for 2 1/2, three years. It’s time for us to be here for you,” she added.
Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant, rapper Nipsey Hussle, actress Jurnee Smollett Bell, actress and Reverend Omarosa Manigault were among celebrities who joined Trayvon Martin’s parents for the program, hosted by Big Boy of Power 106 FM.
The event was co-sponsored by the Community Coalition, which had youth leaders talk about challenges faced with law enforcement on a daily basis, whether in schools or on the streets.
Also present were Student Minister Tony Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, Rev. K.W. Tulloss of the National Action Network L.A. chapter, Bishop Noel Jones, activist Najee Ali and other leaders.
A highlight of the day’s activities was the embrace shared by Ms. Fulton and Mr. Martin with mothers and fathers of murdered children in L.A. and cities as far as San Francisco. They included Vicky Lindsey and mothers, members of the organization Project Cry No More; LaWanda Hawkins of Justice for Murdered Children; Wanda Johnson and Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, mother and uncle of Oscar Grant, III, and others.
“We have got to come together and we’ve got to stop it. We don’t need to wait for the police to stop it, the system to stop it. We’ve got to do it! It takes a ‘hood to take care of a ‘hood problem,” said Ms. Lindsey.
Timothy Walker, 17, told attendees the Peace Talk was one of many ways he’s been able to work out his frustrations in a productive way. He wanted to hit the streets with other post-verdict demonstrators, but didn’t.
“I was mad because I didn’t really see any other way to express how I was feeling at the time,” he said. But he gained an opportunity to speak at a press conference and talk to youth. “It made me feel good because if I could do it, any person that looked like me or felt the same kind of anger that I did could do the same thing.”
“We have a mission, and that mission won’t be fulfilled until we get certain things changed, until we see certain people apprehended and so that’s our mission,” Mr. Martin said July 19. The next stop on the peace tour is Atlanta.
Crenshaw High erupted into applause and a standing ovation when Big Boy introduced Mr. Bryant.
Mr. Bryant said he was honored to attend the event. As a pro basketball player, he deals with adversity, injuries, and pressures and challenges that can look like the most significant things in the world, the NBA star told the rapt audience.
“However, when you step outside of that, and you look at Sybrina, Tracy and what they had to go through as a family, what they’ve come out of, that’s true adversity. That’s responding to true conflict and being true inspirations,” Mr. Bryant said.