By Caitlyn Crenshaw–
Students, faculty and community members flooded the Bingham Humanities quad Monday, holding posters that read “Justice for Trayvon” and “What is a Black life worth?” The assembly was part of a walkout and rally to support and memorialize Trayvon Martin, a Florida teen killed over a month ago.
National headlines have been filled with Martin’s name since the 17 year old was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. The rally focused on the supposed injustice of the Martin case and passed around a petition for students and members of the community to sign.
In a crowd of over 100 students and protesters, professor Stacy Brooks said, “There is no excuse for what happened,” with tears in his eyes.
Mikal Forbush, program coordinator for the Muhammad Ali Peace Institute at U of L, said, the goal of the walkout was to “raise awareness not only about Trayvon, but also the larger issues that the case highlights.” The rally at U of L was one of many occurring across the country this Monday, supporting justice for Martin.
Rallies across college campuses on Monday made the news in Virginia, Pennsylvania and California. Students at the University of North Texas organized a rally and encourage everyone to wear black hoodies in memory of Martin and 500 people signed a petition for a full investigation into Martin’s death at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
At the Million Hoodie March in New York City, Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, said, “My heart is in pain, but to see the support of all of you really makes a difference.”
Organizers passed around a petition throughout the U of L rally for students and members of the community to sign. Forbush said, “We want all involved to be informed. So the e-mails and petition is to invite everyone to be a part of the conversation and know exactly what’s happening.” Organizers will send out information of how to get involved and attend future rallies.
Many of the over 100 attendees of the rally went out of their way to come to campus. Ebony Campbell, a member of the Louisville community, said, she heard about it through Facebook and decided to come.
Tom Moffhett, who works with the Kentucky Alliance, said, he came because I wanted to come. Moffhett has been involved for over 30 years with rallies promoting social activism and encouraging change within society.
“We can’t forget Trayvon like we have forgotten so many before,” Brooks said.
An online petition on change.org started by Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s parents, has over 2 million signatures and calls to “prosecute the killer of our son.”
The Twitter account for Trayvon Martin, @TrayvonMRIP, currently with over 15,000 followers, said, “Show the public how we want justice for him.”
U of L President James Ramsey told WFPL that, in the Trayvon Martin Case, “the process needs to play out and the investigations need to play out. We totally support freedom of speech with our students and think that it’s fitting for them to express their views. We do believe that classroom time is very important.”
As students exercised their first amendment rights, Brooks said over the mass of people, Martin “has become a symbol for racial inequality that has unified people across this country.”
Forbush said, “The plan is to begin a larger conversation on campus and in the community about how race plays a part in the case and look at Louisville’s version of the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.”
Another rally in support of Trayvon Martin is planned for Tuesday, April 3, outside of the federal courthouse in downtown Louisville.
Kassie Roberts contributed to this story.
Photo: Nathan Gardner/The Louisville Cardinal