Where do I begin with this. I’m still very overwhelmed by the march last night. And I’m going to do my best to capture as many moments, and scenery, sounds, and feelings as I can into this recap. Here we go. If thoughts may seem scattered, I apologize because I’m just expressing it how it comes. I usually edit my pieces. But I felt the need to make this uncut and just express it how it comes.
Less than 24 hours ago, I left my job near Grand Central 42nd street, donning my brown Howard hoodie, and made my way southbound 28 blocks to Union Square on the 4 train. I never walk between 14th and 42nd. The only other time I’ve done anything close, is when I walked on Highline Park from 14th to 34th and back again. Little did I know that would change later on that evening.
When I arrived to Union Square Park, I could see hundreds of people lining up. I went into Whole Foods briefly to sit down and wait for my friend Zaria Poem, a good friend from Howard, turned NYC-road dog. We chose to ride this out together as well.
Around 6, she arrived there and I came outside to meet her.
NYPD Police vans were parked lined up across from the 14th street side of the park. People were carrying yellow signs that said Justice For Trayvon. I overheard one Black woman, who was holding the sign below, with a friend say that she was tired of having to march for these young Black men. She said she had marched for Amadou, Sean Bell, a few others (I can’t remember) and now she was marching for Trayvon.
I crossed the street, and at first it wasn’t clear what was going to happen. But the feeling and sentiment was the same. The group of girls behind me said they came down from New Hampshire. Another elderly woman with a walker to the right of me said she was tired of her sons being stopped and frisked and treated unfairly by the law. Another lady was talking to a young man saying, she had to come out, even if it’s the one thing she did.
Photographers were shooting all over the place. Men, women, and children Black, White, Latino, Asian were there with their hoodies on in solidarity, representing the hoodie Trayvon wore the night he was murdered.
People threw out skittles and held cans and bottles of Arizona iced teas.
I planned to only stay for an hour or so. But an hour for Trayvon really doesn’t do him the justice. And neither does the four hours in total of marching I did last night.
When the rally began, I couldn’t hear everything because as you can imagine, there were hundreds of people, and one person leading everything with what I believe was a blowhorn. I couldn’t see the speakers from where I was standing either.
Me at the Rally before the march.
I did become aware of a group called Color for Change that organizes for issues of Black America. We were told to text Trayvon to 30644, to sign a petition and also have an opportunity to join their mailing list. Like I said I haven’t done much research about the organization since last night, but you can go ahead if you’re sitting here and see if it’s something you’d like to join.
Around 6:45, Trayvon’s parents arrived. His parents had a stone look on their face. I’m sure they didn’t expect this. They spoke with no fear and no doubt that their son would be brought justice. His mother said something that rang bells, “This is not a black or white thing, this is a right or wrong thing.” After, their attorney, Benjamin Crump, spoke and revealed that Trayvon was wearing a hoodie because it was drizzling outside. Also Trayvon did run from Zimmerman when he noticed that he was following him. They also did a background check on Trayvon, even though he was the one murdered. Yet it still took three days for the police in Sanford to finally reunite the body of the young man with his parents.
Their attorney also said there were almost one million signatures on their petition. and that they wanted to reach one million ASAP. I checked this morning and they have already surpassed one million, but you should still sign anyway if you can. It takes one minute (REALLY) to do so.
A prayer solidified the rally and organizers began encouraging the crowd to march.
I AM TRAYVON MARTIN
WE ARE TRAYVON MARTIN
NO JUSTICE NO PEACE, NO RACIST POLICE
WHAT DO WE WANT? JUSTICE; WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW
WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS
WE LOVE YOU TRAYVON
THE PEOPLE UNITED, WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED.
These were chants that were shouted as we began making our way west on 14th street and then eventually up 6th avenue. By now the sun was setting. We were blocking traffic. Onlookers from the street had their cameras out videotaping. Others who worked in shops and stores across the area, stopped for a moment in time and stared in amazement. Others could be seen from rooftops and high rise buildings looking down and staring. People driving, even in those streets in which we blocked traffic, honked their horns in solidarity. People supported this movement. There was no violence or fighting. It was a very peaceful protest. We clapped our hands and shouted and exclaimed WE ARE TRAYVON MARTIN!
I see my journey in four parts last night:
First arriving at Union Square for the rally, which I’ve described already.
The second part was the initial march west on 14th, and going uptown on 6th avenue until we reached 23rd street, and eventually walked back east and downtown to 14th st Union Square. When we arrived back, the question lingered as to whether we should stay in Union Square or march to Times Square. I’m not sure who the group leaders were, but they kept the crowd in communication with call and response. The message was that we were only one of three crowds that were broken up by the NYPD and so our numbers weren’t as strong. It was either stay and remain or walk back up and risk possibly being stopped by the NYPD. The group leaders gave us a telephone number to call just in case things became aggressive. We were preparing for anything.
Deep down I knew I wanted to make my way to Times Square. I was still fired up. And so was the hundreds of others that were there and so we eventually began doing just that.
We were shutting down the biggest intersections in the city. All for Trayvon Martin.
And so part three of my journey began.
Again onlookers were in shock. Others clapped and joined in with the march. We arrived to 42nd street and began chanting again I AM TRAYVON MARTIN and other chants in solidarity. Tourists were standing confused, amazed, and bewildered by this whole thing; like deers caught in headlights. One man next to me said, “This wasn’t in the brochure they looked at!” It surely wasn’t.
By now it is almost 10 p.m.
Again the crowd I ended up with was only a fragment of who originally set out to take the streets to Times Square. We were informed that there were a thousand people in Union Square and that we should possibly march back down. Eventually this was the decision, and so leg four of my journey begins.
This time it was less of us. And of course there were way more police than it was on the second and third leg of my trip. Originally we were literately walking in the streets. But now when we attempted to walk in the streets, NYPD began ordering us to stay on the sidewalk. There were a few marchers who tried to ignore the police officers orders and this resulted in them using force on a few of the marchers and pushing them back onto the sidewalk.
So to avoid conflict we took the sidewalks. But this resulted in anti-NYPD chants. NYPD GO TO HELL, WE REMEMBER SEAN BELL.
A man who was also an Occupy protestor encouraged the rest of the crowd saying, DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THEM. DO NOT BE AFRAID.
The last leg, I was a bit less energetic, but I was still in there. We completed our journey back to Union Square. Another 28 blocks. Upon arrival, much of the crowd had dispersed. But the feeling in the air was that we had accomplished SOMETHING!
The world would know that at least a thousand people in New York City, especially young people, were angered and upset by Trayvon Martin’s murder. There is no bringing Trayvon Martin back to life. Parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins have lost a family member. Friends have lost their friend and will never get him back. And this was the case for many other black men before Trayvon. Many labeling him the modern day Emmett Till. There shouldn’t be a modern day Emmett Till though! Just to say that makes me sick.
I’m tired y’all. Im tired of seeing my brothers killed over absolutely nothing. As if our lives are worth less than other human beings. I’m tired of having to feel this way. I’m saddened at the fact that one day, I will take on the same role as the black women before me had to take, and worry about my husband and if God blesses me with them, sons that are just like Trayvon, Emmett, Sean Bell, Amadou, Michael Stewart, and Oscar Grant – men who didn’t deserve to die. More than anything a child was killed by a grown man. There is deep deep sorrow in my spirit all the time as I think about how Trayvon died. I honestly could not sit down and do nothing. This march helped me cope. Yet an still the feeling remains.
I also never seen so many white people admit to having some sort of white privilege. The sign below was a man at the march who shows this sentiment. Anderson Cooper even said he wears a hoodie, jeans, and sneakers everyday but never has he been stopped by police and knows no one would ever believe he is “suspicious.”
Lastly, we also have to get out of this “I gotta get mine” mentality. It isn’t only about you and your come up. It isn’t about swag and stunting on the next person. This society we live in has made us narcissistic individuals who only care about selfish and conceited motives. But that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. This is why society is out of order today. We are not connecting. Self-advancement is important but we also have to remember that coming together in unison is the part of human life we tend to forget about and we need to do this more often when injustices happen in our communities.
We have to pray for our neighbors. Even the ones we don’t like.
With that said. Join the rallies in your cities. Sign the petitions. Continue to inform your family and friends about Trayvon. Talk to people about it. Tweet your hoodie pics. Pray about it. Get out there and stop complaining without action. Faith without works is dead. You must do something if you want change in this world! If you see this march as hopeless, than you see yourself as being powerless and that your energy towards it will have no meaning. But it will!
I saw this last night!
THE PEOPLE UNITED, WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED.
We are all Trayvon Martin and we must not stop until this is brought to justice.
Do not ignore this.