November 27, 2020

Mourners hold vigil in rememberance of Trayvon Martin

Webster graduate, Rachel Lee, organizes vigil, rally for the St. Louis area

Mourners of Trayvon Martin gather for a vigil in Tower Grove Park on March 23. Many lit candles to show their support and grieve the death of Martin. PHOTO BY DAVID NASH

Rain beat on the umbrellas and hoodies of those at the vigil for Trayvon Martin in Tower Grove Park on March 23. Hundreds — grandparents, parents, teenagers, children — attended the vigil. Many held burning candles. When the rain and wind blew out candles, they were relit. Vigil goers wore shirts and held signs that said, “I am Trayvon Martin.”

The crowd was emotional as speaker after speaker took to the microphone where they shared their thoughts, prayers and poetry. The crowd proclaimed, “No justice! No peace!” and asked for justice for Martin.

“You guys have turned an idea into an entire movement. Thank you for that,” Rachel Lee, organizer of the vigil, said to the crowd. Lee is a 2003 Webster University video production graduate.

Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black teenager, was murdered the night of Feb. 26 as he walked through a gated community in Sanford, Fla. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, felt that unarmed Martin was suspicious and called 911. Zimmerman eventually shot and killed Martin.

After Martin’s death, Lee said she waited to hear the news that Zimmerman was arrested. But, the news never came.

“Zimmerman needs to be in jail,” she said. “Somebody needs to pay for (Martin’s death).”

Frustrated, Lee told a friend that something needed to happen. Someone needed to organize something.

“(My friend said) Why don’t you do it?” Lee said.

Lee expected to gain the support of 40-50 people. But the support for Martin has grown since she started organizing the vigil.

“Kids die everyday and we’ve become desensitized to that. This is one of those rare instances where people realize this is wrong. Let’s get together and stand together and stand in solidarity,” Lee said.

The final speaker, Reverend Starsky Wilson of St. John’s United Church of Christ, advised the crowd to become more active in their schools, churches and neighborhoods.

“Go home and knock on the door of the neighbor you don’t know,” Wilson said. “This can organize our neighborhoods so vigilantes can’t take over the neighborhood like George Zimmerman took over this situation.”

He finished his speech with a prayer.

“Will you all pray with me?” he said to the crowd. “Put your hoodies on if you got them.”

Lee said the movement for Martin in St. Louis doesn’t stop after the vigil.

“I want to live in a city that wants to be better and wants to be better today,” Lee said. “I know that I can’t stop here.”

For the full story, read the next issue of The Journal — out on March 28.

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