Tracy Martin, whose son Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in a 2012 Florida case that drew worldwide attention, will be the keynote speaker at a peace rally Friday, May 16, in Pine Bluff.
The rally is being held in conjunction with the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission-sponsored 2014 Nonviolence Youth Summit XI, which is being supported in part by a grant from The Arkansas Humanities Council and The National Endowment for the Humanities. The 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. event will be headquartered at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.
The summit will begin with a VIP breakfast that will feature a “vendor showcase” of assorted support and outreach organizations. Presentations will be made by several performing arts groups.
A “Peace March for Youth” will be led by Tracy Martin and MLK Commission Executive Director DuShun Scarbrough. The march is to conclude at the Pine Bluff Civic Center, where Martin will speak.
Scarbrough said Friday that Martin isn’t coming to the city to discuss the “stand your ground” controversy, but rather to speak as a parent of a child lost to violence. Scarbrough said he anticipates about 800 youth from throughout the state will be attending.
Scarbrough thinks Pine Bluff will be a good location for the nonviolence-themed gathering, as the city is ranked among the top 10 most violent municipalities in the U.S. by several national publications.
“Our goal is to promote ‘Stopping the Violence’ from the victims’ standpoint and to show youth that violence affects all,” said Scarbrough.
Recalling King’s principles of nonviolence, Scarbrough said, “Managing conflict is difficult for many people because they have not been taught how to resolve differences in cooperative, nonviolent ways. However, appropriate responses other than violence can be learned.”
During the summit, MLK Educational Ambassador Awards will be presented to Bobby Acklin and Linda Watson, respective superintendents of the Dollarway and Pine Bluff school districts. Scarbrough said Acklin and Watson are being recognized for “their positive leadership and efforts in educating youth about violence in a heavily populated crime area.”
Scarbrough said Watson Chapel Superintendent Danny Hazelwood and White Hall Superintendent Larry Smith will also be saluted if the MLK Commission receives requested information on the two before the summit.
“We want them to be included,” Scarbrough said.