al_calloway_web.jpgI was among thousands at downtown Detroit's huge Hart Plaza Monday evening, all drawn by demands for justice for the slain 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

While 6 p.m. temperatures steadily declined from the mid-30s to freezing by the organized rally's end at 8 p.m., no one in the throng seemed to mind.

The “Justice for Trayvon Martin and Justice for Detroit's Youth Rally” was brought together in four days through coalition building and mobilization engineered by the Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, pastor of Detroit’s Fellowship Chapel.

While heading a great church, Rev. Anthony has served as president of Detroit's NAACP for the last 20 years. It is the largest branch in the venerable national civil rights organization's more than 100 years of existence.

There are more than 15 organizations in Rev. Anthony's coalition called “Take Action Detroit.” It includes blacks, whites, Latinos and others, young and old, unions, churches and women groups. You won't see or hear much in the national press about this hardworking black man of faith with extraordinary organizational skills who makes a positive impact on his community and society at-large.

But if you really know much about civil rights and human rights in America, then you've heard the name Rev. Wendell Anthony more than just mentioned.

When invited to speak at the rally, I jumped at the opportunity to participate and to spend a little time with Rev. Anthony.

Like a well-oiled machine, the rally went like clockwork. My brief was to succinctly give a rundown of activity around the Trayvon Martin shooting death case and the now very unpopular “Stand your Ground” law signed into effect by then Gov. Jeb Bush in 2005.

On stage and at the podium, I looked out on a sea of people, mostly hooded, mostly young and mostly black and brown. They were enthusiastic, leaning on every spoken word, absorbing and showering each speaker with appreciation.

 Smartly, Rev. Anthony and his coalition geared the rally's program to juxtapose the slaying of Trayvon Martin not only with similar incidents across America but also with murders, shootings and other black-on- black crimes especially plaguing Detroit and other cities as well. 

The crowd estimated at 3,000 to 5,000 went away understanding that they must keep the pressure on the legal system to wrest justice for Trayvon Martin. And they also got it that through organization black-on-black violence and other crimes must be attacked and stopped. 

Detroit is hot, even if the weather's freezing. And the American white supremacy system/culture is now playing a game of billiards with the killing of Trayvon Martin by the neighborhood

watch captain, 28-year-old George Zimmerman. Billiards is a skill game played on a pool table that has no pockets. There are three balls, two red and one white. Points are made by hitting the white ball with a cue stick so that it strikes a red ball then caroms off three cushions before striking the other red ball.

So the Trayvon Martin case is like billiards. On the table of America, using the big stick of power, the “system” runs the Anglo-Saxon priori into the Judeo-Christian ethic and the Democratic ideal in every corner of the land, in every possible way.

 Until those running the system that metes out injustice are made to stop playing with true democracy, until they cease to play like billiards with our plight, until white America stops playing games, there will be tension and growing chaos.

 There can be no true democracy where the serpent of human indignity tightens its coils around the hearts and minds of people of color. Indeed, when the serpent no longer exists, then democracy can prevail. 


Al Calloway is a longtime journalist who began his career with the Atlanta Inquirer during the early 1960s civil rights struggle. He may be reached at Al_Calloway@verizon.net