When was the last time that the actual streets of Daytona were swept with hundreds of protestors chanting, shouting, and screaming for justice? When was the last time that the steps of Daytona Beach City Hall were flooded with activists?
As a younger man, I wasn’t alive to see the history of Daytona unfold to what it has become, nor can I answer some of the same questions that I’ve asked without talking to someone or a Google search. But when I turned the corner to International and Beach Street, my jaw just about dropped onto the dashboard where history was transpiring before my eyes.
‘Sight of unity’
As someone who’s been protesting for quite some time, this was a sight to be seen. The corner was flooded with faces both old and new, faces of all color coming together to remember the unjust death of Trayvon Martin, a sight of unity that I hope to see many more times for as long as I am in Daytona. This was also the first time that I’ve seen such a significant and inspirational showing from the youth in the community.
We (Occupy Daytona) introduced the “Mic Check” or “The People’s Mic” to the participants in the Trayvon rally. This is where one person says one thing and the rest of the group repeats it so everyone is able to hear it. Once we asked for consensus to begin the second march of the day, a couple hundred hands twinkled up, or showed approval. And so we took the streets again!
Orange Avenue was next, City Hall was in our sights, and it only got louder with every step we took on our march. Before you knew it, there was one person for nearly every inch of space at the front of City Hall. There were cheers, more chants and cries for rectitude, and of course, dancing. It was also here that we began and lost our voices to the exhausting chant: “There ain’t no power like the power of the people, cause the power of the people don’t stop!”
After about 20 minutes at City Hall, we took the streets once again, heading back to the First Baptist Church, where the earlier marches picked up momentum that was seen on newscasts all around Florida.
Ridgewood Avenue is where we picked up more community reinforcement than anywhere else. We had honks and cheers from nearly every car that passed by, even several that stopped in the middle of the road to further strengthen our undying spirit. Enroute to the church, a boy who couldn’t have been older than seven or eight was even starting chants for Trayvon.
It was also here that a police officer shouted at a volume that got over a hundred protestors attention, toward a Black man wearing a hoodie, “If you would just listen to us, then there would never be any problems!” It was a minor incident that couldn’t scratch in our combined vigor.
After a talk with the officers, we were informed that the church’s pastor didn’t want us near the church where another meeting was being held, so we moved back to the corner of International and Beach Street to hold the vigil. With our spirits and our heads high, we lit candles in plastic cups and made a circle for various people to speak about Trayvon.
One of them was Bishop Martin Tooley who said, “This is not an issue of Black and White; this is an issue of right and wrong…Young people, it’s time to stand up. ‘Cause if you don’t stand up now, you won’t stand up when your time comes.”
In my thoughts
A beautiful and heartbreaking moment of silence ensued. I put my camera away and thought even more about where we need to move as a society. And while I don’t believe in a god, I know for sure Trayvon is in a better place; he’s always in my thoughts.
The purpose of these movements and moments is not to avenge or ‘equalize’ what’s been done to Trayvon, but to create a better place where all people can live and be treated without prejudice.
It’s a shame that it took a tragedy to create such a magnificent unity, but now that we are all continuously coming together here and around the world, we can’t let go of each other and of the vision of a better world.