ST. PETERSBURG — The picture of a smiling Trayvon Martin hung on the wall of the Uhuru House on Sunday afternoon. A few feet away, Omali Yeshitela pounded his hands on the lectern, his voice rising to a shout.
As the furor surrounding Martin's death entered another week, the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement weighed in with a rally Sunday. The group planned a "March for Trayvon Martin" next Saturday, and heard from a cousin of Martin's.
Most of the talking was done by Yeshitela, though, chairman of the activist organization that calls for a liberation of people of African descent under an "All-African socialist government."
Yeshitela, 70, linked Martin's death to slavery, the bubonic plague, and the deaths of Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Marcus Garvey, among many other historical events.
"Trayvon's future was determined several hundred years ago," said Yeshitela, who blamed capitalism, which he called "a tapeworm in the intestines of humanity, sucking away.'
Xavier Knowles, a cousin of Martin's, also spoke Sunday. Knowles is not an Uhuru member, but agreed with Yeshitela that Martin's death shed light on systemic problems in America.
"It's sad that it takes an incident like Trayvon," said Knowles, 35, a computer repairman from St. Petersburg. "It's like putting Cuban coffee under your nose. It wakes you up."
Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or firstname.lastname@example.org.