Students, locals march in honor of Trayvon Martin
Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 02:04
Students, faculty and members of the Newark community gathered on North Green Wednesday night to rally against the controversial death of Trayvon Martin.
Martin, 17, was shot and killed in February as he walked home from a 7-11 in Sanford, Florida, after buying Skittles and iced tea. The alleged shooter, George Zimmerman, 28, was a neighborhood watch volunteer who claimed he shot Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder shortly before the rally Wednesday night, and a special prosecutor was appointed to the case.
“We Are Trayvon Martin: UD Walk and Rally for Justice, Peace and Equality,” hosted by the Center for Black Culture, the Black Student Union and the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity began at the Center for Black Culture on South College Avenue, across from Morris Library, before winding around campus and coming to a stop on North Green.
Senior Babatunde Cadmus, president of the Black Student Union, said the organization wanted to get involved because of the importance of race in the investigation. He said BSU originally planned a candlelight vigil, but decided to work with the Black Graduate Student Union’s idea to formulate a protest walk.
As participants walked across campus and Main Street, passersbys stopped to watch the crowd, who chanted “No justice, no peace,” and “We are Trayvon Martin.”
Junior Tobe Ofuani led the walk, shouting the group’s chants through a megaphone. He said the event gives hope, but it is important to see it is not for an isolated issue.
“We need to educate ourselves to be able to kind of speak up and be an advocate for people that normally aren’t able to speak up for themselves,” Ofuani said. “It is bigger than Trayvon Martin—it’s fighting for justice in its most basic form.”
Cadmus said while Martin’s case sparked this particular protest, the greater purpose of the rally was to support overall social justice.
“Martin was just an example and this case isn’t unique,” Cadmus said.
Speakers from the host organizations, as well as non-university associated organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Nation of Islam, came out to support the students’ rally.
Senior Brooklynn Hitchens, vice president of the Black Student Union, took the stage erected on North Green to speak, relating the night’s event back to the bigger picture.
“This isn’t just a black issue,” Hitchens said. “This is an everyone issue, an issue of social justice for all.”
Cadmus thought the event was an overall success, despite the small turnout. He said he expected the entirety of North Green to be filled Wednesday night with people.
“Our campus isn’t really politically charged, and the turnout showed there are people that showed up to the rally and cared,” he said. “On our campus, students are not willing to take the extra step to speak out against injustices.”
Cadmus said he thought the rally was important for the university—not just because it was a nationwide issue or to jump on the bandwagon—but because it gave the university and surrounding community a chance to express their emotions about the case.
Ahati Toure, 43, said he drove from Dover with his three children, the youngest of whom is three years old, to attend Wednesday’s event. The Delaware State professor said he often takes his children to rallies and protests so they learn to fight for what they believe in.
“It’s in my blood. I just want them to know they have to stand up for their rights. Don’t let people trample on you,” Toure said. “When you see injustice, organize people who feel the same way as you and talk loud about it.”
Toure said he wanted his children to see the rally in order to be a part of something historical.
“They’ve been seeing it on TV, but there’s nothing like being up close and seeing that other people feel the same way,” he said.
Darren Ankrom contributed reporting to this article.