As parents and godparents, we all have to warn our children about the dangers of the world—strangers, bullies, which streets not to walk down. But there's a special pain in explaining to my sons the suspicion and dangers they face, simply by being young black men.
One month ago today, Trayvon Martin was walking through a gated community in Florida with nothing more than an iced tea and a bag of skittles. But being a young black man in a hoodie made him "suspicious" to George Zimmerman, who got out of his SUV, tracked Trayvon down, and shot him dead.1On that terrible day, my special pain and fear as a parent became very urgent ... and very real. Racial profiling is a sickness in the soul of our nation. It limits our promise. It divides us. And one month ago, it robbed Trayvon Martin of his life.
Trayvon's story is already inspiring millions in the call for justice and an end to racial violence. It also moved writer/activist Kevin Powell, Akila Worksongs, Jasiri X and the folks at MoveOn and ColorOfChange to record a new powerful video "A Song for Trayvon." Please watch it and share it with your family and friends to inspire more people to join this growing movement:
When I heard about the news about Trayvon, my eyes welled with tears. I pictured my godson and nephews innocently walking home, just like Trayvon, and then never seeing them again—never hugging them. It was more than I could bear.
That's why I joined a SignOn petition calling for justice for Trayvon. It's been signed by more than 500,000 MoveOn members, and I'm delivering it to the Justice Department today. Already, the public pressure from us and our allies is making a difference.
The Justice Department, the State of Florida, and the FBI have launched new investigations, a new state prosecutor has been appointed, and a grand jury date has been set.2 But we need to keep building the call for justice. And we do that by making sure each and every American knows Trayvon's story.
President Obama said, "if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon."3 He might be like Trayvon too, and Trayvon might have been like my two boys; or your son; or friends of your children, joining you at the dinner table.
But Zimmerman couldn't see past Trayvon's race and hoodie to the promising young man he was—a football player, a horseback rider, a hero who pulled his father from a burning kitchen.4 Trayvon was young, he was alive, he was beautiful.
All of us sharing Trayvon's story and calling out for justice are fighting back against racism and senseless violence, so one day we no longer have to fear our child's walk home in the darkness.
It's up to us to make sure that every person in America knows what happened to Trayvon and how his death moved us to tears and action. Help us grow this movement by sharing this video with everyone you know.
Thank you for standing up for Trayvon.
P.S. Today, vigils and rallies are taking place around the country to mark the one-month anniversary of Trayvon's death. To find an event near you, go to http://vigilsfortrayvon.
P.P.S. Writer/activist Kevin Powell, who helped pull 500 people together in Brooklyn yesterday for the "A Song for Trayvon" event, has written a stirring and reflective piece for The Guardian on "Trayvon Martin and the fatal history of American racism." Check it out here.
1. "Trayvon Martin: Zimmerman was not following Neighborhood Watch 'rules,'" Chicago Tribune, March 24, 2012
2. "Calls for justice rage on a month after Trayvon Martin's killing," CNN, March 26, 2012
"Obama: Shooting death of Trayvon Martin a 'tragedy,'" Newsday, March 23, 2012
3. "Obama: Shooting death of Trayvon Martin a 'tragedy,'" Newsday, March 23, 2012
4. "Trayvon Martin's Family Calls For Arrest Of Man Who Police Say Confessed To Shooting (UPDATE)," The Huffington Post, March 8, 2012
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