Moments after concluding his vocal tribute to Trayvon Martin by singing "Stand Up For Love," Jared Martin, no relation, listened to the next few speakers express their concern over the case surrounding the fallen Florida teen. Suddenly, Jared was overcome with emotion, and he dropped unconsciously into the arms of a stunned observer.
"I'm good," said Martin, a 25-year-old Charlotte resident, a few minutes later. "Sometimes I get over-excited."
Following a national trend to commemorate the death of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen who was killed in February, Kings College graduate Kyle Murray organized Sunday's "Charlotte Cares for Trayvon" event, in Uptown. The rally, which drew about 60 participants, was at least the third organized in the Queen City since Trayvon's death.
Murray, 23, said he felt compelled to try and make a difference. "That could have been my brother," Murray said as he looked at a photo of Trayvon.
That's because Murray's younger brother is 17, the same age as Trayvon, who was shot and killed Feb. 26 by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Sanford, Fla.
"It hits home," said Cynthia Murray, Kyle's mother.
Zimmerman shot Trayvon, who was unarmed as he allegedly walked from a convenience store back to his father's girlfriend's home. Zimmerman claims Trayvon attacked him, and he reacted in self-defense; however, Trayvon's family disputes his claims. As of Sunday, Zimmerman had yet to be charged with a crime. The case has created a media-driven debate on race and self-defense ordinances, with some calling the black teen's death a result of racial profiling.
Charlotte native Jameka Whitten, 35, helped Murray organize Sunday's rally. "[The issue] is not racial profiling," she said. "It wouldn't matter if Trayvon was white, his killer has not been brought to justice."
Sunday's Uptown event was staged one day after thousands in Sanford marched for the young teen. The Sanford rally was organized by the NAACP and featured speeches by civil-rights leaders Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton.
Murray isn't a national activist speaking on a national stage, and the crowd of 60 did not create national headlines. But he said he intended his message to echo those of Jackson and Sharpton.
"Doesn't matter if we have two or 25 or 250," Whitten said at the start of the rally. "We're going to march."