MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Dozens of rallies are planned across the state to mark the one month anniversary of the death of 17-year old Trayvon Martin.
Martin was gunned down February 26th while walking a gated Sanford community by self-appointed Neighborhood Watch captain George Zimmerman who claimed he shot the teen in self-defense.
Martin was unarmed when he died; he was wearing a hoodie and carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. Investigators said Zimmerman thought he looked suspicious.
Citing the “Stand Your Ground” law, police did notcharge Zimmerman in the shooting which sparked outrage and cries for justice across the nation.
The largest rally was being held in Sanford, Florida where Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, activists including Al Shapton and Jesse Jackson, will join thousands of people in march to demand justice.
Pastor G. Vincent Lewis had his arm around 16 year old Blake Cole as they boarded the bus bound for Sanford. The group from Trayvon Martin’s old church, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church is using Trayvon’s Martin’s case as a teaching tool on the civil rights movement.
“The elders now are going to have to realize that this leg of this movement for Trayvon maybe the energy of the young people,” said Lewis. “But it needs our guidance, our funding and our support… so that the energy tied to it results in something positive.”
Lewis is a veteran of the civil rights movement and like many others who lived through that time period, he’s using the Trayvon Martin incident as a teaching tool for the younger generation.
“I’m just gonna pray that something good happens out of this,” said 16-year-old Cole.
Cole said he’s starting to realize that he is living history in the making and it’s not been an easy lesson.
“I’ve learned that this is a real cruel world and some people just seem not to care,” said Cole. “It’s a devastating situation. It really touches you in a way that it doesn’t touch others. You really feel the pain.”
Students at Florida Memorial University are feeling the pain too. Trayvon Martin’s mom graduated from the historically black school. One hundred and fifty students boarded buses headed for the Sanford rally Monday morning.
It’s a teaching tool history professor Tameka Hobbs knows will be invaluable.
“I think this struck a cord with a number of our students who have had bad experiences either believing that they had been racially profiled or had unjust encounters with law enforcement,” said Hobbs.
Julian Coakley is one of those students learning as he watches the Trayvon Martin saga unfold.
“This is my first rally ever in regards to something like this,” said Coakley. “So I think for me its more so of an eye opener, an experience to something of this magnitude.”