The Temple community and local citizens marched on Oct. 8 through North Philadelphia. The March for Solidarity, as it was called, was to bring awareness to racial injustices, profiling and call for changes after the Trayvon Martin case.
Amid signs reading “One Nation, Working Together” and chants of “no justice, no peace,” Temple students along with the Temple NAACP marched to “bring about awareness to the horrendous trend of racial profiling that has been occurring within the United States,” DeVaun Brown, president of the organization as well as senior media studies and production major, said.
“We didn’t just want to have just a program on it or a meeting where we didn’t do anything,” Brown said. “We wanted the community to get involved.”
The march was conceived and planned by Alaysha Clairborne, Temple NAACP political action committee chair.
“I wanted to focus on how the experiences of Temple students on campus and African-Americans in the community sort of mirror each other,” Clairbone, a sophomore African-American studies and political science major, said.
Clairborne also said she hoped the march could be a starting point for open discourse about the connection Temple students and North Philadelphia citizens share, citing recent gentrification and the new building of Morgan Hall as possible topics.
The march also served as a podium for Trayvon’s Law, a bill pushed by the NAACP to legislatively tackle racial profiling, Clairborne said.
The law has focuses on some key issues that arose from the Trayvon Martin case, such as repealing “Stand Your Ground” laws, creating law enforcement accountability through effective police oversight and improving training for watch groups.
“We know it happens a lot in the Philadelphia area and even in the university, so we wanted to bring light of that,” Brown said.
Students who attended the march said they’re just trying to do their part to bring awareness to injustices and support Trayvon’s Law.
“I think that Trayvon’s Law is the first step to eliminating the problem,” Marielle Martin, a sophomore public relations major, said. “It won’t go away overnight, but it’s the first step.”
Miriam Harris, a junior English major, said she considered the criminalization of young minorities a central part to racial discrimination as well.
“The issue is people’s perception of one another and what people perceive as harmful and dangerous,” Harris said. “It starts with education, changing people’s perception, and enlightenment.”
Marielle Martin and Harris cited criminalization of minorities as a major issue and said it must change.
”I think it’s about teaching [people] that black men are not a threat, they are not inherently evil,” Harris said. “They are not here to kill anyone and they should not be killed.”
Marielle Martin said the implications of criminalizing minorities are that such practices could potentially become routine.
“It makes them used to getting arrested and oppressed, and it’s becoming the norm for them,” Marielle Martin said.
Clairborne said it is the job of the community to create reform and change.
“The black and brown students on campus have a duty to critically look at issues that not only affect us but the community.”