School Without Walls students, faculty and supporters marched to the White House in peaceful protest on March 27 to call for justice for Trayvon Martin. Martin, a Florida teenager was shot to death in February while walking unarmed through a gated community in Sanford, Fla.

About 300 students marched in circular motion in front of the White House in support of the Martin family, for Trayvon and for the thousands of young Black youths who have been killed in the past because of racial profiling.

Edward Ismail, an advanced English teacher at the school, said the students came to him for advice about what to do. “I’ve had my students read about the Civil Rights Movement but this was their time to put it in action.”

“Justice for Trayvon Martin. We are Trayvon Martin,” chanted the students in peaceful protest, holding signs that read, “Skittles and a can of Arizona Ice Tea are not weapons.” This referred to the alleged gunman’s assertion that the items in the teen’s hands appeared to be a weapon which provoked him to shoot to kill.

“We want justice for Trayvon and his family,” said Brianna Morgan, 14, a student at School Without Walls. “We demand that the man who killed Trayvon be arrested, indicted and brought to trial.”

Classmate Tyana Swanson, 14, agreed. “How can the police let a self-appointed neighborhood watcher just shoot someone with no weapon. We must put an end to this before it becomes a pattern across America.”

Nkechi Taifa, a civil rights attorney and mother of one of the protest organizers, said Trayvon Martin is this generation’s Emmett Till. “I am so very proud of these students. They remind me of effective protests of the pasts. It’s like they read the doctrines of Dr. Martin Luther King and Ghandi and went to work. For these students it’s not over.”

Saddened and outraged by the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, School Without Walls students launched a letter-writing campaign last week to draw attention to Martin’s death and urge Brevard-Seminole State’s Attorney Norm Wolfinger to take action and bring Martin’s alleged shooter to justice.

“The protest is designed around one theme: injustice. This is a civil rights issue and needs to be handled by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division,” said School Without Walls senior Kristin Ellis, one of the student organizers of the protest. “Trayvon is dead and his executor needs to be prosecuted. School Without Walls wants to be a catalyst for the Washington DC area, businesses, school system, universities. Protests need to be made, letters need to be written, petitions need to be signed. Such a needless death deserves this treatment.”


Valencia Mohammed

Special to the AFRO