Rapper Jay-Z lent his star power to the sixth annual Peace Walk & Peace Talk in Miami Gardens Saturday and elevated Trayvon Martin’s name alongside those of spiritual leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.
Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter joined hundreds of marchers at the rally to honor victims of gun violence, including Trayvon Martin, the Miami Gardens teenager who was shot to death in February 2012 while in his father’s Central Florida neighborhood.
Jay-Z joined Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, on stage at the Betty T. Ferguson Amphitheater.
“We want to make sure that we stand and support and never forget that Trayvon serves as a beacon of light to the people out here. So you guys never have to go through the pain and hurt that these guys went through,” Jay-Z said.
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Of Trayvon, Jay-Z said: “His name will sit alongside the greats whom lost their lives to push our culture forward — the Martin Luther Kings, the Gandhis. That’s the intention we set so his name will serve as a beacon of light and hope to push our culture forward in a better direction.”
Brenda Martin Providence, a friend of Trayvon’s mother, volunteered at the Peace Walk. She didn’t expect to see the high-profile rapper whose appearance hadn’t been publicized.
“It means a lot to the community when you see people like Jay-Z who come out to support your cause,” Providence said. “With everything going on, we all need to support the cause because our youth are dying in the streets. A lot of mothers are missing their children. For me, personally, my son will be 40 in a couple of days and I have two grandsons. We all need to come out and show our support and walk for the community.”
Travyon, 17, unarmed and walking back to his father’s home from a convenience store, was shot and killed in Sanford by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer.
Zimmerman used Florida’s Stand Your Ground law to win an acquittal for his role in the death of Trayvon in a 2013 trial that drew international attention.
Jay-Z, who is married to R&B/pop superstar Beyoncé, has teamed with the Weinstein Company to produce a six-part documentary series about the Trayvon Martin case for the Paramount Network, Variety reported last year.
“What happened to Sybrina and Tracy’s son could have happened to any of us,” Providence said. “It’s incredibly important that they have devoted their lives to everybody else’s sons who are out here and in the community and we stand with them in support of our own children.”
Trayvon would have been 23 on Feb. 5.
Miami Herald reporter Martin Vassolo contributed to this story.