For Verdis Daniels Jr., the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer in 2013 showed that maybe America hasn’t come so far since Daniels was an academic star at Texas’ Nacogdoches High School in 1976.
That year, Daniels scored so well on the PSAT that the local newspaper, The Daily Sentinel, featured him in a photo with his counselor and an assistant principal. A few weeks later, police ended Daniels’ educational hopes by arresting him on charges of robbing an elderly woman. The teenager happened to share one characteristic with the actual mugger, who was described as several inches taller and wearing different clothing: skin color.
Daniels, who was walking home from his dishwasher job at the upscale Hotel Fredonia near Nacogdoches City Hall, was not physically harmed like Martin, but he was targeted for the same reasons — he was a young, black man who looked suspicious to a white man. The acquittal of Florida neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in Martin’s killing reminded many African-Americans that those reasons endure.
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