Rev. Al Sharpton came to L.A. to rally for Justice and meet the families of Trayvon Martin, Anthony Dunn, Kendre McDade, Frederick Martin and he ended at FAME on the anniversary of the 1992 civil unrest
At the rally which was held at the West Angeles Church of God In Christ, the families of Trayvon Martin, Anthony Dunn, Kendrec McDade and Oscar Grant came to tell their stories and the hurt that they all have continued endured without a semblance of justice. Some came with other members of their families, and some came with their attorneys.
The family members included Tracy Martin, and mother Sybrina Fulton (Trayvon Martin’s parents); Kenneth McDade and Anya Slaughter Kendrec McDade’s parents; and Janell Dunn (Anthony Dunn’s wife).
Along with the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were civil rights leaders, members of the clergy, elected officials, entertainers and community folks. They included Benjamin Todd Jealous (NAACP); Pastor Jamal Bryant Leon Jenkins (NAACP); Rev. K.W. Tulloss; Rev. Cecil Murray, Rev. Eric Lee (SCLC), Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mary Mary, David Banner, Paul Rodriguez, Attorneys Ben Crump and Caree Harper, and many more … the church was packed.
They addressed issues of racial profiling, crime and community action and called for vigilance and support to sustain long term efforts at establishing and maintaining the Trayvon Martin Foundation to fight these senseless acts of violence especially against young Black men.
The following Sunday was April 29, 2012, twenty years to the day when violence and destruction exploded in Los Angeles … triggered when four White policemen were found not guilty of brutally beating a Black motorist (Rodney King) after the incident was videotaped and played over and over on television worldwide.
There was a sense of frustration that had built up over years of brutality of Black citizens at the hands of LAPD officers and other law enforcement officers. Though it had been caught on videotape; the not-guilty outcome of the trial was beyond belief, and the community exploded.
At First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME), whose senior pastor is Rev. John Hunter (affectionately called Pastor John), Rev. Sharpton spoke at the 10:00 a.m. service and continued his call for positive action against all forms of violence. And the First AME Church commemorated the 1992 Civil Unrest by issuing a call for Peace and Reconciliation.
Before Rev. Sharpton took to the podium, Pastor John, referring to the 20-year commemoration, said, “We know we’ve made progress in the last two decades, but there are many things that remind us that racism and justice still exist in our city. In addition to the Rev. Sharpton, many special guests who participated in the healing of Los Angeles following the unrest are attending the worship service,” he added.
“Touch somebody and tell them, ‘We’ve been through a lot but we’re still here,’ he continued, “We made it and we’re still here. Twenty years ago is a short period of time on one hand and is a significant period of time for a community. We need to be reminded of what we’ve gone through and what we’ve come out of.”
Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., executive publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel, introduced the Rev. Sharpton, who then came to the podium and started off. “First, I thank God for another day, a day we neither earned nor deserved,” he said. “To often we get up in the morning like God owed us another day or like we did something to earn another day. Everyday is a gift from God. I’m glad to be here at F.A.M.E., one of the great churches this nation and this world knows as a bedrock of this community.
“I both like, love and admire the real sense of commitment and integrity that Danny Bakewell has shown down through the years,” Rev. Sharpton continued, “I first met him in the 80’s with the Brotherhood Crusade and now as he has built newspapers, radio stations and continued his community work…and he has been nationally a real rock in our community. This community should consider itself fortunate to have him.”
A skilful orator, Rev. Sharpton used the book of Nehemiah 2:17 in Bible as reference in his sermon. And he had a captive audience; in addition to Pastor John’s ‘faithful,’ many came just to hear Rev. Sharpton. There was a host of elected officials in attendance.
And he continued, “Twenty years ago, I came to Los Angeles after the unrest and we protested what had happened with the Rodney King verdict. Flying in this morning from Washington, I thought about what happened 20 years ago and where we are today. There will be those who interpret today in many ways. We need to be honest and we need not romanticize, but be straight and candid with each other and our children.
“What happened to Rodney King should’ve never happened and what we responded to should’ve never happened,” the Reverend emphasized. He spoke long and strong, and when he had finished, the crowd seemed to have gotten their Sunday morning spiritual fill.
First Lady of FAME, Denise Hunter said, “We are our brother’s and our sister’s keeper and April 29, 1992 shows us what can happen when we fail to live up to that responsibility.”
So what will the next 20 years be like?
Some of the special guests who attended were:
United States Representatives Karen Bass and Laura Richardson;
California State Controller John Chiang ; Chairman of the California Board of Equalization, Jerome E. Horton; California State Senator Rod Wright; California State Assembly-members Mike Davis, Steve Bradford, and Mike Feuer; Supervisor Zev Yaroslosky; Los Angeles City Council-members Bernard Parks, Eric Garcetti, and Richard Alarcon; Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Gruel; Los Angeles School Board Member Margurite La Motte; Carson City Councilman Mike Gipson; Inglewood City Clerk Yvonne Horton and Alex Johnson, deputy for Public Safety and Education for Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.