The College at Florham campus does not normally see a lot of activism, so when word of a rally in the front of Hennessy Hall spread, there was some sense of apprehension, fear that the rally to raise awareness about the Trayvon Martin controversy would get out of hand.
The rally was initiated by students, and was held on March 28 at noon. The movement, called “I Am Trayvon Martin,” seeks to inform the public about what many believe to be the injustice surrounding the death of 17-year-old Trayvon, a high-schooler from Miami, Fla., who was shot and killed in a surburban neighborhood while visiting his father.
Much obscurity surrounds the killing, claimed to be an act of self-defense by the shooter, George Zimmerman.
There has been much media coverage and public debate concerning the case. The shooting has incited many, who believe his death to be the result of racial profiling and hate and seek answers.
Antoinette Miles, a senior and political science major, was the primary organizer of the event.
Miles came up with the idea for the rally during a discussion of the shooting.
“Our generation suffers from ‘slack-tivism,’” she said.
“We think that by posting a status on Facebook about an issue, we’re doing something about it, or because we reteweeted something or posted a YouTube video about it, we’re making a difference. I wanted to really do something about it, and get the word out to the entire campus. Many people think it’s just a racial thing…a ‘black’ thing. But everyone should be upset about it…it’s not about race, it’s about what’s right and what’s wrong,” Miles said.
Miles, with the help of the Association of Black Collegians, Yvonne Bodden of the Office of Campus Life, and two members of the NAACP, orchestrated a peaceful protest.
The protest brought out more than 50 students and several faculty members and administrators.
Protesters were asked to come wearing hoodies, with their hoods up.
Trayvon was wearing a hoodie with the hood up at the time of his death.
Students could also be seen eating packets of Skittles and drinking cans of Arizona iced tea. Both of those items were found on Trayvon’s body.
In addition, Rev. Sidney Williams Jr. assisted in organizing the event, saying a few words and leading the protesters in a prayer.
The prayer was led to the sound of “What’s Going On?” by artist Marvin Gaye. The church’s musical director played the song on the saxophone.
“As Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere,’” said Williams.
“People may think this does not affect them because it may not have touched them directly, but it has touched all of us. It affects all of us.”
At the end of the rally, the participants gathered on the Hennessy Hall steps for a picture for “A Million Hoodies For Trayvon Martin.”