RIVIERA BEACH – Bishop Harold Calvin Ray of Redemptive Life Fellowship Church, Bisoph W. Oshea Granger of Mount Calvary Baptist Church and Bishop Thomas Masters of New Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church usually are impeccably dressed – not just on Sunday mornings but all the time for their respective roles.
But on Sunday night, at a “Rally for Justice for Trayvon Martin” which they organized, it was a different matter. They wore hoodies as “our symbol of solidarity with the cause and commonality with pain of this injustice,” Ray said.
Some 1,000 people showed up at the event, where Tracy Martin, the father of the slain Miami
Gardens teenager, spoke. The part rally, part church service with rousing gospel music, electrifying praise dancing by black male youth, and prayer, had the audience standing, shouting and praising God.
“We come to have church tonight,” said the Rev. Griffin Davis Sr., pastor of Hilltop Missionary Baptist Church in Riviera Beach, venue for the gathering.
“I’m not afraid [of publicly showing support for Trayvon Martin],” said Masters, who is also mayor of Riviera Beach. “We’re on the side of justice and peace for Trayvon Martin.”
“It could’ve been our sons. Our sons have been racially profiled,” said Judy Holiday of Loxahatchee, who attended with her husband Westley. “We connected with the parents on a personal basis.” She said last spring they attended a rally in Sanford, the city where then neighborhood crime watcher George Zimmerman shot and killed the unarmed Trayvon in a confrontation.
“We just felt like injustice had been done. We went to Sanford because we didn’t like what was going on and we wanted to give something back to our youth,” Westley Holiday said.
It’s the outpouring of support from people like the Westleys and millions of others around the country who keep turning out to show support at marches and rallies and other ways that keep Trayvon’s parents going, his father told the crowd.
“It’s all the love, the support, and all the prayers that keep us going,” he said. “Nothing that I can say or do can ease the pain that’s in my heart. But Trayvon was not just my son, he’s your son, too. I feel the angel of the Lord is stepping in with me and Sybrina [Fulton]. One of the greatest gifts that God can give a man is a son. I’m here to help you all to not lose your son.”
Ray told the group more had to be done. “After our rally, we must become knowledgeable and know what to do,” he said. “We must develop a strategy. We need to show up for jury duty. For us, this is just the beginning.”
Prior to the rally, Ray hosted a private reception for Martin and a fundraiser for the Trayvon Martin Foundation. He will also host a summit on the Trayvon Martin case at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12, at Redemptive Life Fellowship, 2101 Australian Ave., West Palm Beach.
At that session, law enforcement and elected officials will join members of the clergy and representatives of civil rights groups to discuss self-defense laws, including the controversial stand-your-ground law and racial profiling. Granger said the summit will focus on “prevention, instruction, and correction.” Parents are being encouraged to bring their children.
“We must become proactive. After laws are already enacted, it’s too late,” Ray said. A letter and petition to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was circulated during the rally. At Masters’ request, two 17-year-old black males read the letter to the audience. It urges Holder to file federal civil rights violation charges against
Zimmerman, who was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges. Dan Calloway, a longtime activist and a leader in the Palm Beach County communities, introduced Martin to the crowd, telling the audience he met Trayvon’s father more than 25 years ago.