Black student leaders said they hope a march on Wednesday in support of Trayvon Martin, the teenager who was shot and killed in central Florida in February, will bring greater awareness to the tragedy.
“The whole goal is to bring awareness about it … it’s really to allow students to express their concerns,” said Sasha Mack ’13, co-chair of Black Students United.
Martin, though unarmed, was fatally shot on Feb. 26 as he was walking home from a convenience store by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who said he fired in self-defense. The uncertain circumstances surrounding the shooting led to a public outcry for a full investigation and calls for Zimmerman’s arrest, according to the Associated Press.
Chavez Carter grad, president of the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, said that the event was organized by members of several student organizations, including BGPSA, BSU and the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He said the number of groups involved represented the march’s goal of including students of all backgrounds.
“We really want to reach out to the entire Cornell community,” Carter said.
Mack echoed Carter’s sentiments, saying the tragedy had an impact on people across the country, not just those in the black community.
“This case affects us all,” Mack said.
The march will begin at the Africana Studies and Research Center at 5 p.m. and proceed to Ho Plaza, where a candlelight vigil will be held. The invitation asks participants to wear hoodies, because Martin was wearing one at the time of the incident.
Both Carter and Mack said the issue has not been addressed enough on campus. Carter said this was because many students did not think the tragedy had personally affected them.
“People look at race as black and white, and when people put it in that perspective they say: ‘I’m not racist, so that doesn’t affect me,’” Carter said. “But if you really look at it … people have to look inwards to say: ‘Have I made some of these same perceptions of another race [as Zimmerman]?”
However, Carter said the calls to investigate the tragedy was a case of right versus wrong, not a case of black versus white or black versus latino.
Still, Carter said the march was first and foremost about sparking a discussion of issues of racial discrimination.
Carter said the march will be a success “if we as a student body can be able to influence the students here individually and get them to have a deeper look at themselves and a deeper look at discrimination.”
Kappa Alpha Psi will also hold a forum to discuss the issue on Thursday at Ujamaa Residential College.
Original Author: David Marten