In the moments after the highly emotional “Million Hoodie March” rally in New York City’s Union Square Park, it became clear that the parents of Trayvon Martin had been highly energized by the experience of seeing the more than a thousand of people who came to honor their son and their cause.
At the rally’s end, when they returned to the Lincoln Navigator that was to transport Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s father and mother, the parents spoke candidly of how overwhelmed they were by volume of people who came to support their cause.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Trayvon’s mother said, sitting in the center seat of the vehicle, speaking in an interview with BET.com. “It was such a diverse crowd of people. The people were so kind. I felt their love.”
For weeks, Trayvon Martin’s parents said, they had made themselves available for interviews with local and national media, answering reporters’ questions by phone or in a blur of studios. They had buried their son and began what they described as the frustrating, painstaking task of trying to get his killer arrested.
They had traveled to New York for a whirlwind of interviews at NBC, MSNBC and with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Until that point, they said, they had no idea of how — or if — their son’s murder had evoked any feeling among average Americans.
But then came the early evening outdoor rally in Manhattan, and the passion of the crowd. It revealed for the first time to the parents of the slain teenager that their son’s death had somehow connected with huge numbers of people.
“I had no idea that people felt so strongly about our son,” Trayvon’s father said. “I’m speechless. Wow.”
Less than an hour earlier, the parents walked into the park with their lawyer Benjamin Crump. The parents were virtually bombarded by the emotion of the crowd that nearly crushed them on their way to the stairs where the microphone was awaiting them.
Some women shed tears as they looked at Trayvon’s parents walking past them. Others simply stretched out their hands, saying they only wanted to touch them. “I just want to lay hands on you,” one woman said.
Still, some in the crowd simply shouted to them “We love Trayvon.” At some points, there were the deafening chants of the crowd, repeating over and over “I am Trayvon” and “We want arrests.”
It was a rally that drew a racially diverse crowd, most of them young people wearing hoodies out of solidarity for the dead teenager who was killed while walking in the rain from a 7-Eleven to his father’s girlfriend’s home, wearing a hoodie.
Sybrina Fulton offered one of the most poignant moments of the rally, telling the crowd, “My son did not deserve to die. My heart is in pain. But to see the support of all of you really makes a difference.” She added, “Our son is your son. This is not about a black and white thing. This is about a right and wrong thing.”
Back in the Navigator, Tracy Martin said he could hardly believe the outpouring of support that he had witnessed. “I’m overwhelmed,” he said. “I never expected that a thousand miles from where we live that there would be so many people who would care about our son.”
(On the way to the rally, the parents and their lawyer received a call of support from Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi. “My heart aches for you,” she said, adding that she would do “everything in my power” to get justice for Trayvon.)
Riding to the rally, the two parents said that, after a full day of television interviews and speaking to reporters by phone, they were exhausted and needed some rest. But after the rally, they said, they felt energized and soothed.
“Wow,” Martin repeated once again while driving away from the rally. “I can’t believe this. People really care about Trayvon and that justice is done. God bless New York.”
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(Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)