Black college students starting new conversation after Trayvon Martin case

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on July 18, 2013 at 10:26 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 18 at 10:44 PM

ARLINGTON -- They talked a lot about equal rights. They talked a lot about justice.

They talked about Trayvon Martin. And even though they never met him, they all fell like they know him.

Some feel like they are him.

"He was very young," said Brianna Franklin, a UTA student studying social work, "like, when I think of Trayvon Martin, I think of someone who could've been my brother."

Franklin was at a rally on her college campus, hosted by the NAACP chapter at UTA. NAACP chapters from UNT and TCU attended, too.

William Crowley II attended because he said Trayvon's story could have been his own. He said he was arrested when he was 17 as he was walking through his Dallas neighborhood, because he matched a burglary suspect's description. He said he was jailed and wrongly charged, and eventually, the case was dropped.

"They were so sure it was me," he said. "It was another black guy that they never found."

He's a senior at UT-Arlington now.

"You know were all young here, in our 20s," Crowley said. "We're looking forward to having our kids, and we would like to know they can walk the streets without having to worry about being stopped for just walking home."

The young people at the rally kept saying this is not about "a" case, but it was also about "a" community. There was, of course, talk of Trayvon, but more talk about the epidemic of black-on-black crime.

"That's an injustice," said UTA Junior Arielle Clarkson of the Trayvon case, "but the biggest injustice is what's going on in our communities. That we are not stepping up. The injustice is what we are doing to ourselves, and that's the biggest issue that I have."

One speaker told the students to turn their anger into action; their pain into power.

They know they can't change a verdict. But they believe they can shape the future.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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