Members of Zeta Phi Beta organized a march to the courthouse in West Chester. The mission statement of National Zetas Helping Other People Excel service program (ZHOPE) is to empower people from all walks of life in a dutiful effort to enrich the community.
Students gathered in D-Lot on Friday, March 30, to march into the borough with a lit candle, in honor of Travyon Martin and for justice, after the situation that left him dead at 17. Martin was slain by an armed night watch that thought Trayvon appeared “suspicious.” His death has gathered media coverage, bringing awareness to his death but no arrest to George Zimmerman, the neighborhood night watch that took Martin’s life in February.
The Theta Lambda chapter sought out to orchestrate a campus-wide initiative to bring awareness to the cycling occurrences of discrimination and unjust acts of violence that laws like Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” leave too much room for, according to the press release.
The members of the Theta Lambda chapter of Zeta Phi Beta propeled WCU “in uniting with what great ways we could to take a stand against the injustices that perpetuate senseless violence against today’s youth,” Zeta Phi Beta member, Sabria Rogers wrote in a press release.
“It’s an injustice across the nation,” Isaih Robinson said. “It’s being brought to the nation’s attention.”
The march began in D-Lot after students lit one another’s candles. Several students arrived and walked with their hoodies up, as a symbol for Martin, who wore a hoodie on the fatal night.
“The hoodie is a way of expressing support for the Martin family, and for all the sons of minority families who bear the heavy burden of other people’s negative assumptions,” Rogers wrote in an e-mail.
“There needs to be more of a reaction to what happened,” Kenaen Ellison said, “This is just a start.” Last week, Philadelphians held a memorial service at Love Park for Travyon Martin.
WCU students walked in a scattered group on North Campus Drive past Goshen Hall and they walked in one large group down Sharpless Street. The group walked down High Street; at first the only glimpses the group caught were from those who drove by.
The group chanted: “we walking!” The group repeated the line. Once again the person yelled “we walking” with the reaction of the crowd to chant back, “Travyon Martin!”
The students continued on with their chant. They passed the crowded Kiwi Yogurt and stole the attention of the customers. The group changed their chant to yell “walking for peace” and “walking for justice” as the group repeated each line.
When the chants ceased, Robinson told by-passers that they were walking for Travyon Martin. Most by-passers continued to walk by in silence, as they watched the students with their candles. One by-passer responded by saying, “God bless him.”
“It’s an issue that happens often. This is just the tip of the ice-berg,” Mr. WCU 2011, Isaih Robinson said. “There have been a number of Travyon Martin’s.”
Students walked from High Street to Market Street. They crossed at the pedestrian cross walk to stand in front of the West Chester Courthouse. The forty students formed a circle as one led the group in prayer. After one student sang “Amazing Grace,” Sarita Brown, a Zeta Phi Beta member and 2008 WCU graduate, concluded to the group that there’s injustice and violence going on around us that does not get the media attention that Martin has received.
Organizers of the event thanked students for walking with them for the cause. The students returned to campus together, a handful of them still carrying their lit candles.
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a fifth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.