Trayvon Martin Unites Stars of R&B for Tribute Song, Celebrities for Protests (Video)
Chaka Khan, Eric Benet, "X Factor" finalist Stacy Francis, actors Terry Crews, Angela Bassett and others re-recorded Khan's "Super Life," while protestors took to the streets from New York to Los Angeles in the teen's memory.
While a group of celebrities went into a Hollywood recording studio to record a tribute song and PSA in honor of Trayvon Martin, marchers in Los Angeles joined thousands who have taken to the streets across America demanding that authorities take action in the case of the unarmed 17-year-old boy shot to death by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida.
The protesters, who marched during late afternoon through downtown from Pershing Square to City Hall on Monday, were part of what some are calling “The Million Hoodie March.”
Tweeting from the LA march, actress Tichina Arnold wrote: "'Black Brown Asian White same struggle same fight!' Is what we r chanting at the rally 4 #Trayvonmartin."
In New York, singer Janelle Monae called the outpouring of support "moving," tweeting, "Seeing pics from the "Million Hoodies" march in NYC for #TrayvonMartin touched. my. heart ... When we come together it's priceless."
Meanwhile, on Sunday, March 25, more than a dozen musicians, singers, TV personalities and actors came together for a session at Hollywood's Henson recording studios. There, in the same complex where "We Are the World" was recorded in 1985 and remade 25 years later as a benefit for earthquake-ravaged Haiti, Chaka Khan gathered fellow R&B stars Eric Benet, Kelly Price, Kenny Latimore and X Factor's Stacy Francis to reimagine the disco queen's "Super Life," from Khan's 2007 album, Funk This.
They were joined by actors Angela Bassett, Terry Crews and Boris Kodjoe for the eight-hour session. All wore identical white T-shirts that said "Super Life -- Fear Kills, Love Heals." The PSA is available at Chakakhan.com.
Participant Stacy Francis (pictured) told The Hollywood Reporter: "The song tells how love heals and it's about being ethical and honorable even when life can be so short and unfair. ... The biggest thing for me was, I think it's horrible that someone can throw flour on Kim Kardashian and be prosecuted for it, but this [George Zimmerman] guy… it's not a good sign of where our society is at. So we all have to do our part and I'm using my voice to help in any way I can."
Lyrics from "Super Life" are certain to stir emotions. A sampling below:
"A mama's cryin' 'Cause another young man has gone and died / He's not some statistic / He's another awesome destiny denied"
And: "We take it all so lightly / How did we get so 'climatized / On the 9 o'clock news nightly / Genocide of babies / I can't believe my eyes. ... Right or wrong / I'm gonna live a super life."
Wrote MTV VJ Quddus Philippe, who was also present for the studio session: "Let's not allow Trayvon's legacy to be limited to a fad of rocking hoodies for a week. It's time for a progressive revolution."
Martin, a young African-American had gone out to a local convenience store to buy Skittles and an energy drink, when 26-year-old Zimmerman, a local neighborhood watch participant who hoped to become a police officer, began to follow him. Zimmerman called 911 and was instructed to stop pursuing Martin.
He persisted, however; a confrontation whose nature remains unclear followed and Zimmerman shot and killed the young man. He has claimed he acted in what Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law defines as self defense and local police appear to accept his version of events. Some accounts of the recorded 911 conversation, however, say Martin can be heard begging for his life.
The label "hoodie" springs from the fact that Martin was wearing a hooded sweat shirt at the time of the incident, which lead Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera to suggest on the air that his choice of a garment sometimes worn by street thugs -- as well as millions of young people across the Western world -- may have contributed to his death.
As outrage over the unarmed teenager’s killing has spread -- including to the White House, where President Barack Obama delivered unusually personal comments on the case -- pressure has mounted for some sort of arrest, and Florida’s governor has appointed a special prosecutor to examine the facts of the case.
Over the past week, marchers in many parts of the country have called on the U.S. Department of justice to enter the case, since it appears that Florida’s self defense statute --the most lenient in the country -- may present an insurmountable obstacle to any prosecution on state grounds.
Although marches were held throughout the country on Monday, the day’s biggest rally was in Florida, where a crowd of thousands filled a Sanford city commission hearing room to overflowing and then spilled out onto adjoining streets, where the city set up a Jumbotron so that they could follow the proceedings inside. In a related development Monday, Martin’s parents held their first meeting with investigators probing the case on behalf of the special prosecutor.
Watch the video for "Super Life" below: