Speakers at a gathering in Minneapolis to remember slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin said his death should be a rallying cry for racial justice in the country.
Hundreds of people rallied in a University of Minnesota courtyard Thursday evening showing solidarity with others around the country who are protesting over the death of the 17-year-old who shot and killed as he walked to his father's home by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman claims he shot the teen in self defense.
People in the crowd held signs that read "Justice for Trayvon" and "hoodies up" — a reference to the hooded sweatshirt Trayvon Martin was wearing the night he died. They repeated chants of "peace," "justice," and "enough." Many in the crowd wore a hoodie.
Speakers said Martin's death is one of many that never make the news. Instead, they said black men are portrayed as suspects.
Minneapolis rapper Brother Ali told the crowd that he and other whites need to be honest that they benefit from and are safer because of their race. Ali told the crowd his white complexion allows him to go anywhere he wants to, wearing a hoodie.
"Somebody decided that you have to have membership in a specific race, in a specific culture. That you had to be a male, you had to be straight, in order to be a human being," Ali said. "When we accepted that; when we accepted that not everybody's humanity is valid, we accepted that our own humanity was invalid as well. And so if we want to get anywhere, we have to be honest with ourselves."
The crowd cheered when Ali said people who do nothing to change racism in America are buying into an unjust system.
The Rev. Devin Miller of Emmanuel Tabernacle Church of God In Christ in Minneapolis called for people to use tools like social media to demand justice.
"It doesn't stop with just a rally about Trayvon Martin. We are putting people on notice: you mess with one of our young people and we will bring the people to you," Miller said.
Your support matters.
You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.