Saturday was a day of remembrance for Trayvon Martin, as about a thousand people — including actor Jamie Foxx — united with the late teen’s family to march, pray, listen to music and hear inspirational messages, while pressing for justice in his killing.
The Trayvon Martin Foundation sponsored the “I am Trayvon Day of Remembrance Community Peace Walk,” to honor the unarmed Miami Gardens teen fatally shot in Sanford on Feb. 26 of last year by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
“We’re here to let the community, and particularly teenagers, know that they have the right to walk in peace without being followed, without being harmed and without being killed,” Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, told The Miami Herald at the start of the event at Ives Estate Park at 20901 NE 16th Ave. in north Miami-Dade. She said the walk would be held annually.
Fulton, Trayvon’s father Tracy and brother Jahvaris held up a huge banner and marched through the park as the crowd trailed them, chanting “I am Trayvon Martin.” Many wore T-shirts emblazoned with Trayvon’s picture, as the line snaked toward a band shell.
Last Tuesday would have been Trayvon’s 18th birthday, which has inspired a series of activities all week in his honor, including a dinner Sunday night.
“This is not an event, this is a movement,” Reverend Jamal-Harrison Bryant from the Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore told supporters at the band shell. The goal, he said, was “justice for all people.”
The shooting of black, 17-year-old Trayvon by Zimmerman, an Hispanic, sparked widespread outrage, and led to protests and rallies nationwide, as well as ongoing controversy over Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.
Prosecutors say Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder, profiled the teen, who was wearing a hoodie and carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. Zimmerman said he fired in self defense. He is out on bond. His trial is scheduled to begin June 10.
“We did not come here today to grieve. We came to be energized and recharged,” Bryant told the crowd. “We came to make a commitment to Tracy [Martin] and Sybrina [Fulton] that we are not going to rest until we see justice for their son. Trayvon Martin has become all of our sons and our brother.”
Foxx, an Academy Award winning actor, wore a red t-shirt with Trayvon’s picture at the center, and said he came in support because he is a father.
“Every once in a while, something comes around that touches you like nothing else,” Foxx said, of Trayvon’s slaying.
“I wasn’t going to miss this day, and I’m not going to miss a day in the future when we can step out and remember Trayvon,” he said.
Trayvon’s parents expressed gratitude for Foxx’s appearance, as well as for the crowd’s support.
“We’re not going to stop fighting. We are going to fight for our kid. We are going to fight for your kids,” Fulton said. “It’s not just about us; it’s about all our kids.”
Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Jordan also took the stage, saying Trayvon’s parents “give a new definition to Stand your Ground: to stand for your children and to be committed to your children and to be committed to your community.”
Gospel singers, mime dancers and others performed, as the day unfolded with celebration, tinged with sadness and reproach.
“It’s a great event to keep the awareness, to keep the fight alive for Trayvon Martin and his family,” said Martin Maultsby, 40, who lives in Miami Gardens and is the director of the Florida Youth Football League. “Any time you can come out to support your cause, it lets the family know they are not in this fight by themselves.”