ST. LOUIS – Just back from two rallies, One at midday and one in the late afternoon. Very hot, humid, threat of rain. 100’s attended both. At the urging of the Rev. Al Sharpton, “Justice For Trayvon Martin” rallies were held in 100 cities across the nation. St. Louis did it’s part in gatherings organized by civil rights activists and church leaders.
We gathered to hear speakers call for federal civil rights charges against the man who shot and killed Martin in Florida, to discuss the deeper issues of race and power in the country, to reflect on the President’s remarks yesterday.
One of the local organizers, Dr. James Coleman Jr., said St. Louisans need to raise their voices, “Get some back in your bone. Open up your mouths and shout truth to power for Trayvon, for Tracy & Sabrina (Martin’s parents), and for the countless other victims, so that our children will not grow up unprotected.”
Chants rang out across the rallies.
“Justice! Justice! Justice! … Now! Now! Now!”
“We won’t forget.”
“No justice! No peace!”
We also sang hymns, prayed and held hands.
All in all an uplifting experience; a moment of solidarity.
But the crowds were overwhelmingly black. Where were the Hispanics, the Asians, the Whites? And the crowd had very few young people in it. Where were our civic leaders: city, state and federal? Oh, there were a smattering of elected officials but not the big names. This all worries me.
The news media here are leading their reporting with a twitter from the police chief that there were no arrests.
I fear that this will be like the furor after Newtown….white hot for a short while and then ineffectual efforts to legislate.
I think that what we need to do is to still make the efforts to legislate knowing they will likely go nowhere BUT have as the underlying theme that we are fighting a war for the soul of the nation, a war of attrition against the mean spirited right wing. In this context, each of these are battles on different fronts as part of a long term strategy. Will there be enough front line troops for the battles to come?
I had dinner at a neighborhood restaurant with a number of activists. The owner decided to put us all in a back room “to give us our privacy.” We wondered if our table discussion was one that he was uncomfortable with- bad for business in a place that has a diverse crowd. By the way, he is black.