Precipitation didn’t stop several thousand people from massing in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. March 24 to rally for justice in the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, the head of a neighborhood watch program in Sanford, Fla., after he said that Martin looked suspicious.

Since then, 911 recordings of the incident have been released and Martin’s parents called for Zimmerman’s arrest. With the help of social media, the issue has gone viral and rallies and other forms of support have sprung up nationwide.

In Washington, local organizations, politicians and faith groups came out to support Martin’s family.

Among them was Joe Madison of D.C. radio station WOL 1450, who called Martin’s death a modern day version of the Emmitt Till slaying.

“They’ve been killing Black men since Black men landed on this continent,” Madison said. “They’ve been killing us. They’ve done all kinds of things to us. This isn’t just about today.”

Also appearing at the rally was Florida Rep. Alan Williams. Williams, who introduced legislation in the Florida House supporting statehood for the District earlier this year, said people could rest assured that there would be justice for Martin.

“This is more about rallying for justice in Sanford because justice will be served,” he said. “I promise you, on behalf of the Florida House of Representatives, justice will be served in Florida.”

Rev. David Bowers of No Murders DC said he was encouraged to see so many people united for a cause, but that it was hypocritical for many Black folks to not share the same anger when Black men and women are dying at the hands of another Black person.

“Since I graduated high school in this city, thousands of people, most of whom look like me, have been murdered in this city, said Bowers. “We need the same righteous indignation when a Black man kills a Black man or a Black man kills a Black woman as when a White man kills a Black man. All of our lives, Black, white, no matter who we are, are just as valuable.”

Pastor Tony Lee of Community of Hope AME Church in Temple Hills, Md. said the most important moment of the day would happen when everyone left the rally.

“You’ve got to get connected to something when you leave this place so that you cannot leave this place the same way that you came,” Lee said. “When you leave this place you’ve got to have on your mind that ‘I’m going to move forward so not just the Black community can be a better community, but the United States can be a better nation and this world can be a better world.”

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO