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The Trayvon Martin in US

An American Tragedy

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Edited By Emmanuel Harris II and Antonio D. Tillis

The events surrounding the Trayvon Martin murder, trial and acquittal bring to public and private discourse the violent, brutal murders of Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Dr. King, while bringing back to memory the racially provoked murders of Black American and Black immigrant men such as Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant and more recently, Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York. The name of Trayvon Martin has become trope in the 21 st century, which crystallizes US racial politics regarding Blackness, specifically the Black male: a metaphoric symbol of this history of America’s regard for Black bodies, as well as a metonym, a name that has become a contemporary substitute for terrorist attacks targeting Black bodies. The works included here imply that Trayvon Martin, as trope, reverberates in the most conscientious of ‘US’; and, this epic tragedy is one that has plagued ‘US’ since Africans and people of African descent first arrived to the Americas. The essays range from the profoundly personal to the thoroughly investigated, and conclude with the statement from President Barack H. Obama in the epilogue. The Trayvon Martin in US is essential reading for anyone who is involved in race relations or teaches the topic.
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Chapter One:   A Message for Our Sons and Daughters: Remembering Trayvon

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CHAPTER ONE

A Message for Our Sons and Daughters: Remembering Trayvon

REV. WILLIAM L. JOHNSON III

This past Fourth of July, the nation celebrated its 237th birthday. Many of us watched as people all around the country and perhaps the world took note of the greatness of a nation that has become the world’s singular superpower. As is the custom of many, I gazed at the sight of fireworks exploding while teeming crowds watched with excitement and awe at the grandeur of our nation’s expression of pride and patriotism. Yet, for some reason I found it more difficult to celebrate this holiday than ever before. I must admit, in the past I’ve not been able to really get into the Fourth of July holiday to celebrate the idea of freedom when I remember the true history of the country’s birth. The debates among those in this nation’s first Continental Congress proved that this nation’s leaders ignored the evils of slavery and the very words found in its Declaration of Independence. They declare:

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind, requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the...

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