Above: Malcolm Xavier Clay, 4-years-old attended the rally with his family.
Left: Jamie Lynn Crawford,Todd “TJ” Duckett and Brianna Black stand in front of the Capitol during a rally focusing on youth.
By Nadine Defensor
LANSING, MI -- Two 18-year-olds led a nonviolence rally at the capitol last month, to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American 17-year-old who was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida on February 26.
The man who shot the teenager was neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, who had told the police that he shot Martin in self-defense.
Zimmerman has not been charged with a crime.
Brianna Black and Jamie Lynn Crawford, both Lansing Community College (LCC) students, led the protest.
They said that the success of their event relied on the power of social media, as this allowed them to keep in touch with local publishing companies for media coverage as well as public figures and friends who gave them the confidence to pull the event together.
Black said that the rally caught the attention of the younger generation because they could easily relate themselves with the slain teenager.
"We are Trayvon Martin, we are close in age and the same color. That could have been my brother or cousin and we can't allow what he and his family have to go through be okay and acceptable in America,” she said.
Agreeing with her friend's viewpoint, Crawford helped set up the rally. "It felt right to do something about it. He was so young, only 17. Two years older than most kids I know."
Former NFL player, Todd “T.J.” Duckett was also present at the rally, as he believed in the message behind Black's effort. He also wanted to give his support to the youth and help empower them.
Mar'Quavis Casey, who is also a student at LCC, said that he decided to participate at the rally because by being young and African-American, he easily related to the case. He added that Martin's untimely death affects everybody, no matter what ethnicity you are. Casey also performed a poem in front of the protesting crowd, highlighting the justice system's blinded viewpoint regarding the turn of events.
Though it was both Black and Crawford's first time of leading a peaceful protest, they value the experience they got from it. Crawford said that she was happy to be part of something important and she was glad that the case just didn't matter to only her and Black, but to everyone in the community as well. "It made me want to stand up for what I believe in more often."
The experience also taught Black that voicing her concern publically is a powerful tool to make a difference. She wants people to see that the rally wasn't just for Trayvon Martin's sake, but for her local community as well.
She hopes that the rally made people become aware that such injustice regarding crimes can happen anywhere, including the Lansing area. Black says that she is more than willing to continue to speak up to show that she and her fellow protesters are serious about saving the youth, especially those in her own community.