27 Mar 2012
- Written by Kelvin Cowans
Like some, when I visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, I often pause about 30 feet from the front door. Looking to the west, my left, I see the window that James Earl Ray Jr. pointed his rifle out of...
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) wore a hoodie on the House floor Wednesday as he tried to speak to the need for a full investigation in Trayvon Martin’s killing. He was ruled out of order and escorted off the floor.
Like some, when I visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, I often pause about 30 feet from the front door. Looking to the west, my left, I see the window that James Earl Ray Jr. pointed his rifle out of and murdered the dreamer, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Then, back to my right, I look at the spot where Dr. King laid on the balcony. Transfixed in disbelief, I shake my head at how good of a shot this guy had to have been from such a long distance.
The first “shot heard around the world” signaled the beginning of the War for Independence. The second was the shot that took Dr. King’s life on April 4, 1968. And for a still increasing number of people throughout the country, the one that took Trayvon Martin’s life in Sanford, Fla., may just be the third such shot.
“I think we are doing a good thing for coming out to support Trayvon Martin. He didn’t do anything and he didn’t deserve to die,” said Germantown High School 9th grader Deja Pritchard, who was among the hundreds attending a prayer vigil for the unarmed Martin at the Civil Rights Museum on Monday (March 26).
People reflecting myriad backgrounds and ethnic roots filled the crowd. Hoodies – symbolic of the one Martin wore when he was killed by armed-security guard George Zimmerman – were abundant, even in the very warm, early spring weather. Long before news crews, photographers and beat writers took their places, there were outbursts of support for the latest victim of what much of America is calling a racially motivated murder.
“It was unnecessary for him (Zimmerman) to shoot an innocent black man for no reason,” said 10-year-old Jayden Driskle. (Photo by Kelvin Cowans)
The Rev. Kia Granberry (left) and Karlos, an associate. Granberry spoke at the vigil with ferver about the importance of justice being served. (Photo by Kelvin Cowans)
“Trayvon!” they yelled.
“For Trayvon,” spoke a kid while being escorted by his parents to the heart of the rally.
“It warms my heart to see Memphis get involved. This shows that we are together on this problem,” said Tomeka Hart, a Memphis Unified School Board member, and the president and CEO of the Memphis Urban League.
“It’s wonderful to see all of these young people come together on yet another civil rights issue. I think it’s utterly ridiculous that someone can shoot someone and claim self-defense and not be arrested,” said Hart, who a candidate for the District 9 Congressional seat. “We’re all here searching for justice and the only way that’s going to happen is if George Zimmerman is forced to face due process.”
Memphis community leaders such as the Rev. Dwight Montgomery (right), SCLC president, and the Rev. Dr. L. LaSimba Gray, president of the Rainbow Push Coalition, turned out to support Trayvon. (Photo by Kelvin Cowans)
There was a solo, words of encouragement and prayers sent up on behalf of Trayvon Martin. The Rev. Kia Granberry, who helped organized the gathering, spoke with ferver about the importance that justice be served in this instance and any future instances in which the same level of negligence is found. The laws in Florida, she said, need to be looked at and some overturned all together.
Memphis community leaders such as the Rev. Dwight Montgomery, SCLC president, and the Rev. Dr. L. LaSimba Gray, president of the Rainbow Push Coalition, wore hoodies in support of Trayvon as well. Memphis Grizzlies minority owner and former University of Memphis standout Elliot Perry stood hand-in-hand with the crowd as another link in the prayer chain that surrounded the speakers.
“It was unnecessary for him (Zimmerman) to shoot an innocent black man for no reason,” said 10-year-old Jayden Driskle. “I’d like for the police to put him in jail for the crime that he has already done before he commits another crime.”
As I completed writing this column, I checked once more and noted that the 28-year-old Zimmerman still had not been arrested. Meanwhile, Zimmerman keeps claiming self-defense, with new reports that he told police that Trayvon hit him first. This after other news dribbles that Trayvon had been suspended from school because of marijuana residue detected in his backpack.
Still, keep this in mind: Trayvon was on the phone with his girlfriend minutes before he was killed, with no signs of him hunting for trouble. He was returning from a convenience store with sweet tea and a bag of Skittles. I guess those items must have terrified Zimmerman, huh?
People reflecting myriad backgrounds and ethnic roots made up the crowd of hundreds in attendance at the prayer vigil for Trayvon Martin outside the National Civil Rights Museum on Monday (March 26). (Photo by Jonwalter Lewis)
Hoodies – symbolic of the one Trayvon Martin wore when he was killed – were abundant, even in the very warm, early spring weather. (Photo by Jonwalter Lewis)
For an increasing number of people throughout the country, the bullet that killed Trayvon Martin hit home. (Photo by Jonwalter Lewis)