Martin speaks at NAACP banquet
Published 3:00 am Thursday, May 5, 2016
More than 400 people were on hand this weekend to hear the first-hand account of a father’s loss from Tracy Martin.
Martin, the father of the late Trayvon Martin, was the keynote speaker at the 2016 NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet held at Troy University.
“He did an excellent job,” said Gwen Byrd, president of the Pike County Branch of the NAACP. “He speaks regularly about the tragedy, how it affected him and how to prevent that from happening in your communities and your families.”
Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African American from Miami Gardens, Florida, who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. The February 2012 incident quickly garnered national attention and protests surrounding Zimmerman’s arrest and eventual acquittal. The Martin family raised concerns of racial profiling and civil rights violations.
“Mr. Martin’s sister-in-law Sheila Williams is one of our members,” Bean said. “We asked her to reach out to him, and he agreed to come talk with us. …
“He made it really personal, explaining how he was raised and how he raised his own children. What hit home was when he explained that this was his oldest child, and that lineage has stopped with Trayvon’s death.”
Bean said the annual banquet is the primary fundraiser for the local NAACP branch, which has approximately 125 members. “We had many others join us for this banquet, including the NAACP president from Dade County, Florida; members from Evergreen, Union Springs and Montgomery; and Bernard Simelton, the state president from Athens.”
Funds raised from the banquet support the community outreach programs of the local NAACP branch, including voter registration drives.
“That will be very important as we have an election coming up for our community in August,” Bean said, referring to the municipal elections. The general election will be in November. “We will be busy conducting voter registration drives in the next couple of months.”
Bean said those drives are “for everyone,” adding that volunteers will be positioned in front of grocery stores and other high-traffic locations in an effort to encourage residents to register to vote. “We are trying to reach all the people in the area. It’s not specific to one demographic,” Bean said.