WASHINGTON — Emotions ran high at the inaugural meeting of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys on Wednesday, as participants discussed ways to protect and invest in black males amid a renewed focus on race and racial profiling in the United States following the trial of George Zimmerman.
Much of the focus of Wednesday’s meeting was on how to prevent another tragedy like the killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager shot by Zimmerman in 2012 as he walked home in Sanford, Fla. Just over a week ago, the jury found Zimmerman not guilty on charges of murder and manslaughter, sparking protests across the country and setting the stage for a national debate on race relations. The decision even prompted President Barack Obama to deliver unprecedented remarks about his personal history with racial bias.
Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, served as the meeting’s guest of honor and made an impassioned plea for a statute or amendment named for his son that would circumvent future incidences of racial profiling.
“Let’s not let a not guilty verdict dictate what our youth legacy becomes. Fifty years from now when I’m dead and gone, I would like to see that Trayvon Martin’s name is attached to some type of statute or amendment that says you can’t simply profile our children, shoot them in the heart, kill them and say that you were defending yourself,” Martin said.
“The question is, what can we do as parents, what can we do as African-American men, to assure our kids that you don’t have to be afraid to walk outside your house, go the store, get a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea and make it to your home,” he added. “And next time your parents see you, they’re dressed in white at a funeral.”