The University held a day of remembrance on Aprill 11 entitled “Peace and Justice Day: In honor of Trayvon Martin.” Throughout the campus marches, ceremonies and discussions were hosted to spread awareness of the controversial shooting that has sparked a nationwide debate on race and gun control.
The events were sparked in reaction to the shooting and subsequent death of Trayvon Martin, a Florida teen who was shot and killed on Feb. 26.
George Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in connection with the shootings on April 11.
Multicultural Affairs, the University chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Hayara Pan-African Student Council, Haitian Society, the Athletics Department and Campus Ministry coordinated the events.
Morgan Fowler, executive vice-president of Hayara, explained that the purpose of the events was to make the University aware of the case.
“We wanted to raise awareness about the Trayvon Martin case and to raise awareness of what is happening in our government,” she said. “It’s a general awareness for everybody.”
Students gathered outside the D’Angelo Center for a march around campus. The students dressed in hoodies and brought Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea with them, in a recreation of what Trayvon was wearing and carrying with him at the time he was shot.
Students chanted “No justice no peace” and “We are Trayvon Martin” as they walked to St. Thomas More Church for a brief ceremony.
Freshman Xavier Griffin said the events of the day showed how people could come together for a common cause. “It really shows awareness that people still care and that there are still good people in this earth.” he said. “It was deep, it was touching and they made you want to keep hope to not assume that racism is coming back up.”
Freshman Ryan Hurt said the fact that Zimmerman was charged on the day of the events gave them validation.
“The fact that Zimmerman got charged today shows that these series of marches and events around the nation aren’t for a lost cause,” he said.
In addition to the march there was a discussion in the D’Angelo Center where students and faculty talked about their opinions regarding the ongoing investigation of the case.
Junior Ariyo Ojabamila said the issue of race is not as prevalent in the case as some people think.
“Being black and being in a minority had little role to play in this case.” he said. “The important question is what respect does the American judicial system have for the sanctity of human life.”
Junior Tim Pettaway talked as well about what he felt the role of President Obama was relating to the state of affairs.
“I think we were looking at him as a savior and what we failed to do on our part was take the initiative by going out to the community and being more active and involved,” he said.
Fowler said that the work of spreading awareness of the case did not end at these events, and that she hoped the students would carry the lessons with them.
“I want more people to understand and spread awareness for everybody,” she said. “It’s not a black or white thing. It is a wrong and right thing.”