Jay Z at Trayvon Martin rally as 'a father,' says Sharpton (+video)
Jay Z at Trayvon Martin rally in New York. Jay Z said 'I'm a father. Beyonce is a mother,' according to Al Sharpton, who spoke at one of 100 Trayvon Martin rallies nationwide.
Crowds chanted "Justice! Justice!" as they rallied in dozens of U.S. cities Saturday, urging authorities to change self-defense laws and press federal civil rights charges against a former neighborhood watch leader found not guilty in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.Skip to next paragraph
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The National Action Network, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton, a prominent civil rights activist, organized the "Justice for Trayvon" rallies and vigils on Saturday outside federal buildings in more than 100 cities one week after a jury acquitted George Zimmerman in the February 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a gated central Florida community.
"Jay Z told me, 'I'm a father. Beyonce is a mother.' We all feel the pain and apprehension -- the laws must protect everybody, or it doesn't protect anybody," Rev. Sharpton told the New York crowd, according to the Huffington Post. "We do not come from hate, we come from love of children."
Musicians Jay Z and Justin Timberlake were in New York to perform at Yankee Stadium on Friday and Saturday as part of their "Legends of the Summer Stadium Tour." When the tour opened Wednesday in Toronto, Timberlake and Jay Z dedicated a song to Martin, according to Billboard. Timberlake began singing Alphaville’s "Forever Young," and Jay Z came in with his version, "Young Forever." Timberlake told the crowd to "sing this for Trayvon."
The Trayvon Martin case has become a flashpoint in separate but converging national debates over self-defense, guns, and race relations. Zimmerman, who successfully claimed that he was protecting himself when he shot Martin, identifies himself as Hispanic. Martin was black.
In Atlanta, speakers noted that the rally took place in the shadows of federal buildings named for two figures who had vastly differing views on civil rights and racial equality: Richard B. Russell was a Georgia governor and U.S. senator elected when racial segregation was practiced in southern U.S. states; the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is the face of African-Americans' civil rights movement.
"What's so frightening about a black man in a hood?" said the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who now occupies the pulpit at King's Ebenezer Baptist Church. Martin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, or hoodie, when he was shot.