Rev. Henry Brown urged the hundreds of people gathering in Lozada Park to come together.
How are you going to have unity, he asked, if folks could not stand next to their neighbors.
It took some coaxing, but he got the group to move in tight so speakers could be heard through the bullhorn.
The purpose of the rally and march was to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, but speakers wrapped other topical concerns into this action.
Rabbi Donna Berman, one of the rally’s speakers, said “they may not lynch African Americans with ropes anymore,” but they have found other ways to do it.
Henrietta Brown, the President of Mothers United Against Violence, said “There is so much injustice in America. People like Martin Luther King died for us, died for our freedom . . . and today we’re still dealing with the same thing.”
During the George Zimmerman trial and following the verdict, some have been quick to accuse the media and general public of only caring about this case because the offender and victim are not of the same race. “What about ‘black-on-black’ crime?,” some have asked.
One of the rally’s speakers acknowledged this, saying that “we need to respect ourselves,” if others are expected to show such respect, but even so, nobody was letting this red herring shift the focus of Monday evening’s gathering.
The theme of respect ran through, however, from Rev. Henry Brown starting it off by insisting, “we gotta be respectful of one another out here today,” to closing with a call for people to develop empathy for one another.
The chants for peace went hand-in-hand with the call for justice. Cornell Lewis, one of the organizers of the event, said: “We have to make vibrations now!”
“We have to make America move,” Lewis urged.
Sam Saylor, who lost his son to violence in October of last year, applauded the crowd for caring about what happened in Florida. “When we finish here,” he said, “I’m asking you to come back to the 06120 where the profile is about poor people, the poorest zipcode in the state.”
The march left Lozada Park, went east down Mather Street, turned north up Main Street, and ended at gravesites of black Buffalo Soldiers in the Old North Cemetery.
Listen to the drum circle:
Listen to more from Sam Saylor: