IUP hoodie marchers commemorate Florida shooting victim

Indiana University of Pennsylvania students, many wearing hooded sweatshirts, gathered at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, in front of Pratt Hall on the northern end of the IUP campus. Photo by Marlene Rivera.

By Marlene Rivera

INDIANA — One month after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida, Lauren P. Hamilton, 20, a sophomore psychology major, decided Monday to organize a commemorative hoodie march at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday, thanks to a social-media-assisted promotional blitz, a crowd of more than a hundred showed up at 8 p.m. at Pratt Hall, drawn to the event by banners, speeches, poetry and song.

 “No justice!  No peace!”  marchers chanted.

Photo by Tyrise Barker.

For 45 minutes, marchers wound through the northern tier of the campus and ended at Wallwork Suites, where the crowd sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Organizers and marchers, mostly minority students, spoke of racism.

“We all encounter racist acts as African-Americans, whether it is dirty looks or you can sense the body language of other people when they feel uncomfortable when we enter the room,” Hamilton said in a pre-march interview at Stapleton Library. “Us coming together and doing this march, it’s more than just Trayvon. It’s all of us fighting against racism together and promoting peace.”

Samuel Johnson, 24, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and a senior business management major at IUP, agreed. 

“Indiana’s not too far from racism,” Johnson said.  “This could’ve happened to anyone.”

Anthony M. Royster, an IUP business management major and NAACP chapter president, congratulated Hamilton on the turnout.

 “It’s amazing how someone who is not a part of an organization can put this together and can get this amount of people,” he said. “It’s usually a struggle.”

Two white students, Amy L. Durstine, a red-haired junior sociology major, and Megan K. Adams, a junior special- and elementary-education major, were a distinct minority. They addressed the event’s lack of appeal to white students.

 “I think they feel it wasn’t their issue, that it wasn’t their problem,” Adams said. “It’s everyone’s problem.”

Marlene Rivera is a junior journalism major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She is from Lancaster.

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