Laurielle Campbell is a student at the University of Tennessee College of Law and organizer of a March 27 rally on campus to bring awareness to the case of Trayvon Martin, the Florida high school student shot by neighborhood volunteer watchman George Zimmerman.
Whose idea was the rally?
Having the rally as a law school initiative was my idea. During my spring break, I saw the reports about the Trayvon Martin issue and the accompanying rallies in cities across America. I decided to create a rally here in Knoxville to raise awareness about the issue at hand.
Did many law students take you up on the idea? Did many also wear hoodies as requested? How did you get the group together?
Yes, many of my classmates were interested in the idea and I received many e-mails stating they appreciated that I had decided to step forward. Many of my classmates were just waiting for someone to take the first step so that they could join in. Many supported the issue by wearing their hoodies inside the law school throughout the day, and those who participated in the rally wore hoodies outside as well.
Why was it so important to you that law students participate?
I contacted the University of Tennessee’s Pre-Law Division and NAACP. I wanted to include students who were likely to enroll in law school in their near future as well as those interested in politics. The reason I emphasized law-student participation was so we could present to the Knoxville community that as future attorneys we will seek justice and that we will differentiate between right and wrong—not merely between white and black—when we begin practicing.
Did you make it a particular point to ask for participation from those of different races and backgrounds?
Yes, I made sure to include everyone from the law school. Justice is for everyone!
What was the response?
We held up signs such as “Awareness for Trayvon Martin,” “Do I Look Suspicious?” and “Honk for Justice.” We received numerous honks and thumbs-up from drivers on Cumberland Avenue.
Was your protest a civil rights thing, or something else?
The purpose of the rally was to increase awareness and to show support for Trayvon Martin and his family as well as others who faced similar situations. The rally was not in support of convicting, prosecuting, or arresting Zimmerman.
Did anyone’s reaction surprise you?
I was surprised that some of the students were nervous to participate in the rally in front of the law school.
Have you ever been in a rally/demonstration before?
Attending Howard University for my undergraduate studies afforded me the opportunity to demonstrate on campus regarding campus initiatives as well as issues affecting the D.C. community.