Beyonce and Sean "Jay-Z" Carter, Sabrina Fulton and the Rev. Al Sharpton (25536)
Credit: Rachel Noedlinger photo

Thousands of protesters rallied in over 100 cities across the nation on Saturday with a singular mission: to keep the memory of Trayvon Martin alive and to bring some semblance of justice to his tragic death. Simultaneously, as the George Zimmerman verdict came in, the “Justice for Trayvon Martin” call went out. Following the lead of legendary artist Stevie Wonder last week, a bunch of performers have announced that they too are going to be supporting the Florida boycott.

Meanwhile on Saturday Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, was participating in a rally in Miami, the slain youth’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, was in New York City, where she appeared first at the National Action Network (NAN) and later at One Police Plaza, each time accompanied by the Rev. Al Sharpton.

“I say to you that I am still the proud mother of Trayvon Martin,” she began at NAN, bringing the audience to its feet with thunderous applause. “He was mine; we loved him, supported him and cared for him. We’ve moved on from the verdict, but we have to continue the fight.”

Wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the foundation named after her dead son, Fulton challenged some of the media reports that have mischaracterized her son. “He was no burglar,” she began. “He had every right to be in that area. Trayvon was not confrontational … I believe he was afraid.”

The crowd agreed with her and more than once echoed her belief that George Zimmerman started the fight and ended it.

“Today it’s my son,” she said, never losing her composure. “Tomorrow it may be yours. I stand with New York because New York stands with me.”

During his moment at the podium, the family’s attorney, Ben Crump, recounted how it was the massive rallies and demonstrations that made Martin a household name. “This verdict,” he said, “will not define Trayvon. We will define him. And we will not allow private citizens to profile our children.”

Sharpton brought the session to an end with one of his typically rousing sermons, citing Scripture about how “a little child shall lead them,” which was appropriate for that day’s events and his destination downtown.

When Sharpton and Fulton arrived at One Centre Street, hundreds of spectators had already gathered in the sweltering heat; many of them seeking whatever available shade they could find. There were politicians galore, particularly candidates for mayor, but most eyes were focused on Beyoncé and Jay-Z when they weren’t listening intently to the Rev. Michael Waldron, Franklyn Richardson and Sharpton.

Fulton’s speech downtown was very brief, and she repeated many of things she has been saying since being swept into the public spotlight. She said people tend to forget that her son was a child. “I think sometimes it gets lost in the shuffle,” she said, standing next to Sharpton and her son, with Rep. Charles Rangel and Hazel Dukes of the NAACP nearby. “As I sat in the courtroom, it made me think that they were talking about another man.”

It was a trying experience for her, she added, and “we were shocked and disappointed” by the verdict. “But we have to roll up our sleeves and continue to fight.”

“Last Saturday we cried,” Sharpton shouted to the crowd at the Plaza, “but this Saturday, we march.”

It wasn’t exactly a march, but folks knew what he was talking about and their mere presence was enough to indicate the growing disgust the nation is feeling about a verdict that “killed Trayvon again,” as one sign declared.

On Facebook, activist attorney Joan Gibbs stated, “In response and due to the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law on the books in Florida, along with the great Stevie Wonder, the following acts have canceled [all] of their up-and-coming concert dates in and around Florida indefinitely! Or until the law in Florida is abolished.”

Reportedly, the list includes Jay Z, Wale, Kanye West, Usher, Rihanna, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Young Jeezy, Ciara, Keyshia Cole, Mary Mary, Maze/Frankie Beverly, Patti Labelle, the Rolling Stones, Justin Timberlake and Madonna.

Gibbs’ Facebook statement continued, “Now, if you add all those ticket sales up, you are talking billions! I want to thank these artists … we all should!”

Timberlake canceled his Miami tour and said, “I refuse to entertain a state whose government allows people to shoot and kill unarmed teenagers!”

“I have never been a ‘fan’ of Florida because of its notorious history of racism, and reactionary stances on other issues of importance to me. I have only been there twice—the first time on the way to Brazil, the second time on the way to Cuba,” said Gibbs. “So I won’t be buying oranges or orange [juice] from there. I think we should also be boycotting the Koch brothers’ businesses.”