One week after a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman of the second-degree murder and manslaughter of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February of last year, regular folk Beyoncé and Jay Z have joined Trayvon’s parents in one of the one hundred organised marches commemorating Martin, protesting the verdict, pressing for a federal prosecution and demanding a repeal of controversial self-defence laws across the United States.
Two amongst a crowd of two thousand at the New York rally organised by civil rights activist Reverand Al Sharpton, Bey and Jay were met with cheers as they marched outside NYPD headquarters demanding ‘Justice for Trayvon’ a day after Martin’s parents spoke publicly on the verdict for the first time. In Miami, Travyon’s father Tracy told some three hundred rallied supporters that he had “come to realize George Zimmerman wasn’t on trial – Travyon was on trial”, and that “we will do everything we can to make sure there’s change, that’s our promise to our son’s memory.”
In New York, Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton withheld tears to tell the assembled crowed “Today it was my son. Tomorrow it might be yours… Not only do I vow to do what I can for Trayvon Martin, I promise I’m going to work hard for your children as well.”
Yesterday Beyoncé wrote a blog post imploring her Beyhive to “fight for Trayvon the same way the generation before us fought for Emmett Till“, a 14-year-old murdered in 1955. “We are still struggling with the issue of inequality and the lack of value for a black man’s life,” writes Beyoncé. “Trayvon Martin’s most basic civil right, the right to live, was violated.”
At the White House on Friday, POTUS Barack Obama spoke regarding the verdict from personal experience, cautioning against violence and making an impassioned plea for empathy where “a history of racial disparities” is concerned “in the application of our criminal laws” – a history that “doesn’t go away.”
“When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said this could’ve been my son. Another way of saying that is, Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”
He concluded hopefully by saying, “When I talk to Malia and Sasha, and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are. That’s true of every community that I’ve visited all across the country.”
Photo: Don Emmert via Getty