By James Harper
Special to the NNPA from the Florida Courier
ORLANDO, Fla. – The shadow of the George Zimmerman trial still was hovering over the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando last week as the NAACP concluded its 104th national convention here.
Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III told a packed hall at the convention that they will not let the death of Trayvon Martin be in vain despite a jury finding his killer not guilty in Sanford on Saturday.
Sanford is about 20 miles away from where they were meeting.
Before addressing thousands of NAACP members gathered from across the country, Jackson told a group of reporters, “There is a Trayvon in every town.”
Jackson, who called Zimmerman a “wannabe cop,’’ also said the jury of five White women and one Hispanic showed their cultural bias.
The killing of Trayvon Martin has illuminated similar cases and racial injustice around the country, Jackson said.
He noted the jury hearing the Zimmerman case should have been integrated with at least one Black.
“Turn anger into massive registration. The burden is to go to every hill and molehill. There may be more Trayvons. It’s hope time. It’s healing time,” he told the audience.
Sharpton said he had never heard of Sanford or Martin until contacted by Attorney Ben Crump 15 months ago. After hearing the circumstances of Martin’s death, he decided that the case shouldn’t be decided in the back of a police station, but in a court of law.
Along with pastors in Central Florida, Sharpton organized a March 2012 rally that attracted 30,000 attendees to a Sanford park, which eventually led to the arrest of Zimmerman.
“The jury has spoken. Now the people are going to speak,” said Sharpton about the not-guilty verdict by the Zimmerman jury.
Sharpton is upset the media is implying that Martin’s family and supporters are demanding the Department of Justice investigate if Martin’s civil rights were violated because of the verdict.
“Some are trying to act as if we are raising civil rights charge after the verdict. We raised (that issue) before there was a special prosecutor assigned,” Sharpton explained.
Sharpton has organized vigils in over 100 cities across the country for Saturday, July 20, to show the nation there is support for the Department of Justice to investigate the case.
Sharpton said the next fight is the overturning of the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida. He said getting rid of stand your ground in Florida is a test case.
“If we can do it in Florida, we can go after other states. Until we overturn Stand Your Ground laws, (there will be) more Trayvon Martins,” he continued.
“We are going to Washington in August but will stop by Tallahassee on the way,” said Sharpton, referring to a march in D.C. He has organized to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, which featured Dr. Martin Luther King’s Jr. “I Have A Dream” speech on the Washington Mall.
“Aug. 24, this is not a reunion. We are going to stand up, fight back and march again. Forward ever, backward never,” he said.
Sharpton said there is an illusion by some that since a Black president has been elected, “We are post-racial.”
He explained, “Those that say that have never been profiled.”
“Today we are dealing with Jim Crow’s children. They are more polished. Just like Jim Crow had children, (Dr.) King had children, (Roy) Wilkins had children, (Dorothy) Height had children,” he declared, indicating that the battle will continue for civil rights for all.
Martin Luther King III followed Sharpton and said he came to the convention with a heavy heart.
“The system has failed people of color. History has a way of repeating itself,” he said. “This should be a wakeup call for America. Profiling has been consistently going on. Our children are targeted. Our community is targeted,” King added.
He stated, “The dream of my father has not been fulfilled. The dream cannot be fulfilled unless we stay engaged.”.
King also is pushing for a change with the Stand Your Ground law.
Without directly calling for a boycott of one of the state’s most important exports, King said: “We have to change the laws in over two dozen states with Stand Your Ground. We might have to look at not consuming Florida orange juice – exercising our buying power elsewhere.”