Livingstone students rally for Trayvon Martin

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 23, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — Nearly 100 Livingstone College students gathered on the steps of Andrew Carnegie Library Friday as part of the national outcry over the death of an unarmed Florida teenager shot and killed last month.
The parents of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, civil rights activists and President Barack Obama have spoken out about Martin’s death and the investigation into the shooting.
Martin was gunned down in Orlando on Feb. 26 by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, believe 28-year-old Zimmerman should be arrested. Zimmerman called authorities before the shooting and told a dispatch communicator Martin looked suspicious.
Civil rights groups in Florida and New York have held rallies over the shooting, calling for the prosecution of Zimmerman. The 28-year-old said he shot Martin in self-defense.
On Friday, Livingstone College’s student leaders addressed those gathered about the situation.
“This is something that college students do,” Clarence Jackson, student government association president, said to his peers. “We find a problem in America and we rally around it.”
Students remained calm and attentive as speakers explained the situation.
The protest — which for many students was scheduled between classes — didn’t last long. But organizer Jamere Brown said he was happy with the turnout and felt the prayer and discussion helped make students aware.
“Even though we didn’t do a lot today,” Brown said, “what we did was enough for people to talk about.”
Sidney Sessoms, a professor of music at the college and a pastor at Spirit and Truth Ministries in Concord, stressed a non-violent approach.
“The same social injustice that’s going on in Florida right now happens right here in Salisbury, North Carolina, and all over the country,” Sessoms told the Post after speaking.
“Any one of these students are susceptible to being confronted with the same thing. I think this is their way of saying, ‘We need to be aware of what’s going on and take some proactive measures to make sure something like that doesn’t happen here in this community.’”
Orlando Police Chief Bill Lee said Thursday he would step down temporarily to help cool increasing resentment against the department for not arresting Zimmerman.
Jamere Brown, who is also the senior class president at Livingstone, said he saw the national attention building around Martin’s death and wanted to get involved.
“I was just like, ‘How long are we going to sit here and pretend nothing’s happening?’ ” he said.
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.