WVU Center for Black Culture, NAACP host march to remember slain teen
Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 01:04
West Virginia University students marched across campus Tuesday in memory of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old from Sanford, Fla., who was shot and killed by a community watch coordinator in February.
The case gained national attention when the shooter, George Zimmerman, claimed self-defense, but Martin was found unarmed – carrying only a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea.
Many accused Zimmerman of racial profiling and protestors across the country rallied for Trayvon’s justice.
Members of the WVU community also made a stand against the controversial case, marching across campus wearing hooded sweatshirts – the same thing Martin was wearing that led Zimmerman to believe he was "suspicious."
Marjorie Fuller, director of the WVU Center for Black Culture & Research, said the organization felt a march would make more of an impact than an event like a candlelight vigil, and she hopes the community felt inspired to make a change.
"Many times, we think that because we have an African American president, civil rights issues have been squelched," Fuller said. "Although things are much better than the past, we still have issues in this country. We need to spread better awareness about the needs of underrepresented communities."
Fuller said when she heard the news about Trayvon, she was not only affected as an activist for WVU black culture, but as a mother.
"I’m a mother of two African American children, and I felt the loss of that mother. It was very heart-wrenching to think what it must have been like for her," she said.
Fuller said she’s proud of the students who participated in the rally and believes events like these will help keep Martin’s memory alive.
"Sometimes this generation forgets there were ever issues with civil rights, and when things like this happen, it sparks an awareness with them. They become more ready to make sure equity and justice take place in this nation," she said.
Parissa Rogers, president of the WVU Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who helped organize the event, said she hopes the march opened the eyes of the Morgantown community.
"I think before this, there wasn’t enough awareness on this campus about the case – it happened over a month ago and some people still didn’t know who Trayvon was," Rogers said. "Incidences like these prove that racism and racial profiling still does happen even though some people think it no longer exists."
NAACP adviser and WVU alumna Chelsea Fuller said students need to realize that what happened to Trayvon does affect them in some way.
"It was an injustice, and just because it didn’t happen here doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect us. It’s something that resounded in black communities around the world, and it doesn’t matter if you’re black, white or whatever – you need to fight for Trayvon’s justice," she said.