Rap star Jay-Z joined hundreds of demonstrators at the sixth annual Peace Walk & Peace Talk rally in Miami Garden on Saturday, where he reflected on the loss of local teen Trayvon Martin to senseless gun violence.
The Miami Herald reports the rap legend elevated the name of the slain teen alongside those of spiritual leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.
An unarmed Martin, then 17, was shot and killed in February of 2012 just feet from the doorsteps of his father’s gated community home by self-appointed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.
“‘We want to make sure that we stand and support and never forget that Trayvon serves as a beacon of light to the people out here,’ the rapper said as he joined Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, on stage. “So you guys never have to go through the pain and hurt that these guys went through.”
One by one, audience members took the mic to express their feelings and speak about how all the aimless gun violence gripping the nation has affected their lives.
“It means a lot to the community when you see people like Jay-Z who come out to support your cause,” said Brenda Martin Providence, described as a friend of Sybrina Fulton. “With everything going on, we all need to support the cause because our youth are dying in the streets. A lot of mothers are missing their children. For me, personally, my son will be 40 in a couple of days and I have two grandsons. We all need to come out and show our support and walk for the community.”
Zimmerman used Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law as his defense, winning an acquittal in 2013 that further splintered the community and drew international attention.
Trayvon Martin would have been 23 on Feb. 5.
Jay-Z, who is married to R&B/pop superstar Beyoncé, has teamed with the Weinstein Company to produce a six-part documentary series about the Trayvon Martin case for the Paramount Network, Variety reported last year. He also recently appeared on an episode of the Van Jones Show on CNN, where one of the topics he addressed in the wide-ranging interview touched on the justice system and the recent protests of NFL players like Colin Kaepernick against social injustice.