Ald. Johnson, Carrboro Brings Love To Trayvon Martin Verdict

CARRBORO – The verdict of the Trayvon Martin case has yielded many different reactions among us.

Board member for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Annetta Streater, has a son close to Martin’s age. She said seeing the verdict unfolding and having to talk to her son was emotional.

“Despite this challenge and verdict, we still want our young men to be self confident and now that they have a place in this world,” said Streater. “We still want them to feel empowered, to do the right thing, and make their mark.”

Carrboro Alderman, social worker, and yoga teacher, Michelle Johnson, said after the verdict, she felt deep emotions of despair and hopelessness. Therefore, she said she felt moved to gather people together to process Trayvon Martin’s death.

On Saturday, Johnson held a Trayvon Martin rally, much like people did nationwide on the one-week anniversary of the case’s verdict. Locally, the rally was entitled, “What Would A World Full of Love Look Like?” and was held in Carrboro Town Hall.

The event invited anyone interested in voicing their opinions regarding the verdict in the case pertaining to the death of Trayvon Martin, all directed towards erasing situations in which George Zimmerman has been accused of wrongfully killing the teenage boy. While conversations have been ongoing outside the courtroom about Zimmerman’s motive in the killing, he was acquitted of all charges in the boy’s death.

Carrboro’s rally focused on infusing communities with love and safety.

Among the featured guests were the Raging Grannies and the Sacrificial Poets.

The event began with a meditative moment of arrival, progressing into a Sacrificial Poets performance featuring Maliyah Tan, Will McInerney, and CJ Suitt. Each member performed a poem regarding racism and their connection to the barrier against races in communities.

Youth Outreach Coordinator of Sacrificial Poets, Suitt, said his piece really embodied how he feels in society.

“I think for me that poem speaks to what I experience, what other men of color experience in the world every day, which is not being seen, not feeling normal, whatever normal means, not feeling accepted, not feeling like there’s a pathway or way they can be in the world that is acceptable, in anything that they do,” said Suitt.

The group broke into three caucus groups – people of color, white people, and unaffiliated. Trainers with Dismantling Racism Works guided the caucus groups.

Molly De Marco helped coordinate the event and assisted the white caucus group.

“People were really able to share their feelings and process some of this,” said De Marco. “It was somewhat hopeful, I think, and uplifting that so many people were willing to come out on a Saturday afternoon. It also shows the depth of our feeling and grief around what’s happening.”

Within the white caucus, participants spent time talking to one another, and determining how to create a world “without Zimmermans”, and said they located in their bodies where they felt emotion.

The caucus groups came together and freely expressed on a piece of white paper what a world full of love would look like. Responses revolved around equality, fairness, and sensitivity.

Executive Director of Sacrificial Poets, Will McInerney, contributed to the artwork.

“I really appreciate the way that the facilitators guided us through the process and helped us create not just important conversation, which sometimes is really necessary but often intangible, but also made space for a tangible representation visually, artistically, through words, through whatever medium you care to express,” said McInerney.

After, the Raging Grannies performed a song based on “We Shall Overcome” about Trayvon Martin and society.

Ruth Zalph, a Raging Grannie, said she feels strongly about racism embedded in American culture.

“This whole problem of racism in America is so long standing,” said Zalph. “It has been here forever, as long as our nation has been here. If we want to make any changes, the best way to do it is through educating people.”

“I think there was an awareness that this wasn’t the first time this happened and it probably won’t be the last time that something like this happens, where a teenage boy of color is harmed or killed just for seeming like they were threatening someone,” said Johnson. “Some of that has to do with perception.”

If you would like to know more about Dismantling Racism Works and where to continue a discussion like this, click here.

Moral Mon. Rallies For Women & Trayvon Martin

RALEIGH – It was ladies’ day at the 11th  Moral Monday in Raleigh rallying for women’s rights. 101 people were arrested, bringing the running total to more than 800. The protesters, normally focused on the Republican-led policies of the General Assembly, took a pause to remember Trayvon Martin. The 17-year-old was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a Florida man who claimed self defense and was acquitted Saturday.

NAACP State Chapter President and “Civil Disobedience” leader Reverend William Barber explained that he planned to miss Monday’s protest but returned early from the NAACP National Convention after hearing the Zimmerman verdict.

UNC alum Rachael Debnam was there to rally for women’s rights, and also felt a sense of sadness over Zimmerman’s acquittal.

“I find the ruling very frustrating. I feel like it encourages racial profiling. I’m also a teacher, and I think we need to teach our children to think critically and not make snap judgments. The ruling to me says it’s okay to do that, and that’s not a lesson that I am okay with teaching our young people,” Debnam said.


Thousands wore pink as they gathered on the lawn of Halifax Mall. Many carried signs in protest of the state House of Representatives passing tighter abortion regulations in a less than transparent manner.

Barber was the only male speaker at the event, sharing the stage with speakers from N.C. Women United, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, and N.C. MomsRising.

“The sisters are here, the sisters have been here, and I want everyone to know it’s a pro-choice decision,” Barber said.

UNC alum and teacher Alan Carter attended Moral Monday in protest of cuts to education, but he also champions the efforts of pro-choice activists.

“The same people who come out against abortion are often the same people against stuff like sex education and providing coverage for contraception. At that point, I think it’s pretty clear that you are against women making decisions for controlling their own reproductive health,” Cater said.

Anna Currie of the United Church of Chapel Hill said she wasn’t happy with the abortion regulations that were pushed through the General Assembly so quickly by tacking the restrictions onto unrelated bills.

“First of all the process was terrible because none of us knew about it. But, I was one of the ones who fought for women’s rights. I just say get the government out of our body. That’s my decision, my body, and it should be between myself, my family and my doctors and that’s it,” Currie said.

Fellow UCCH member Sharon Hanson held a pink sign which read, “Women Remember in November.”

“Remember who to vote for and who to not vote for in November,” Hanson said.

The UCCH congregation has been attending the Moral Monday protests each week since the beginning of the movement.

“I just want to support the people that are willing to do civil disobedience. I am so impressed with those people. I would love to do it myself, but my health doesn’t allow it,” Tony Armer, a UCCH member, said.

The protests have gained national attention as well. CNN sent a camera crew to this week’s Moral Monday. The New York Times published an editorial last week on the state GOP’s policies with the headline: “The Decline of North Carolina.” N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory responded with a letter to the editor of the newspaper, defending the right-leaning policies, saying, “This focus on pragmatic problem-solving is now fueling North Carolina’s comeback to prosperity as well.”